Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Xbox Live and PSN review

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World immediately reminded me of the NES classic River City Ransom – a game that I played through and beat numerous times about 15 to 20 years ago. Based on a movie that had a lot of video game elements, it seems the perfect fit for an Xbox Arcade or PS3 Network game – the question is, how does it hold up?

Graphics – 8:

The style is perfect for what it is. This game is a throwback to 8bit and 16bit beat ‘em ups, and the vivid colors, pixelized characters and blocky yet busy backgrounds fit the theme perfectly. If there’s a complaint to be made about it is if you have too many people playing at once, it can be hard to keep track of what you are doing – the characters are large and visually appealing, but with 3 or 4 players at a time, they take up a lot of the screen’s real estate too.

Sound & Music – 7:

The music and sound all fits – the sound effects are rather bland in my opinion but I thought the music was quite good. A couple of the tunes really stuck in my head afterward and they were lively and matched the often frantic gameplay.

Gameplay – 7:

The controls are simple, but that’s not a bad thing. The game tries very hard to be one of the old-school games that only used 2 or 3 buttons and a special attack. There are times though where I felt like it was not being quite as responsive as I would have liked, and I’d get knocked on my butt. The game’s not impossible by any means, but there are parts where you will die and they can feel a bit cheap, especially if you were trying repeatedly to take a swing at someone and can’t pull it off.

Intangibles – 8:

The nostalgia is hard to ignore, so for me that’s a big one. One of the most endearing things River City Ransom had going for it was your character progression. You bought skills, food, things like that to advance your character. Here, you do the same – you gain levels, new combos and can do things to improve your overall statistics. You can also use this same built-up character (there’s several to choose from at the start of the game) that you can bring in and replay the game with. This plus hidden shops really help the game’s replay value. The multiplayer is fun – my son and I had a great time with it, but there’s a few missed opportunities here too. You can’t drop mid-level it seems, so you have to wait to join in, and the most glaring omission is I don’t see any means of online cooperative play, which is almost baffling for a game that gets so many other small things right.

Overall – 7.5:

Not a bad way to spend some Microsoft Points or PSN wallet dollars, especially if you’re a fan of these kinds of games – which I obviously am (one of my other somewhat recent acquisitions was the Final Fight/Magic Sword release by Capcom in the interest of full disclosure – so this is clearly a genre I enjoy). There’s a few small things that they could have done better, and one or two large ones that just keep the game from being just about perfect, but the challenging achievements and character progressions mean that the replay value gives you pretty good bang for your buck.

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