I was missing part of the picture, but by the time I got around to doing something about it, the downloadable game was delisted in 2014. Thankfully on the 10th anniversary of the film, it was taken out of the Ubisoft vault, or wherever it had been, and re-released to the masses.
Despite its age, the beat-’em-up with its 2D sprites holds up, thanks to its deeper-than-expected gameplay that’s mainly inspired by the classic “River City Ransom.” Players choose from four characters — Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine or Stephen Stills — and go through a campaign that follows the plot of the movie, though there are differences.
I decided to play the game alongside the movie. I would beat one of the League of Evil Exes on the Xbox Series X and then watch how that played out during the film. I’d return to the campaign and beat the second level and see how it was interpreted on the silver screen. Taken together, the movie and film work to each medium’s strengths and broaden the vision of the graphic novels.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game — Complete Edition” does an accurate job portraying the Matthew Patel and Todd Ingram fights. In the Matthew confrontation, I appreciated the little details, such as Wallace Wells kissing Jimmy in the background while Scott battled the boss. The game even shows the demon hipster chicks as part of the add-on foes during the conflict. The game and movie play out similarly.
The same goes for the Todd fight, which is memorable in the movie because he’s played by former Superman Brandon Routh and has scenes where Scott is punched through a series of walls. The video game captures that part of the fisticuffs, but it doesn’t do much to show Scott’s cleverness as he tricks Todd into losing his vegan powers. That storytelling finesse is better explained in the movies.
That’s part of the medium’s success. It manages to tell a coherent story out of the frenetic narrative and filmmaking. “Scott Pilgrim” moves at torrid pace but carries enough of the plot so that the manic images make sense. Scott’s second and fourth fights against Lucas Lee and Roxanne Richter are better on film than as sprites on the screen.
The video game levels don’t offer enough context to the brawls, and they aren’t as spectacularly scripted as the ones in the movies. But they offer one advantage. The films have something off about them. It’s the feeling that the source material is being condensed and streamlined too much for the film’s runtime, and viewers miss out on things.
That’s where the video game helps out. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game” jogs along at a speed that lets players appreciate the details. Players realize that Lynette Guycott had a bigger role in the confrontation between Todd and his band The Clash at Demonhead. They’ll trudge along the vital shopping district and see the stores and restaurants that have a passing importance in the film.
FLESHING OUT THE CHARACTERS
The video game fleshes out the Toronto environment and amps up the bigger moments that the film played down. That’s evident in Scott’s fight against the Katayanagi Twins, the fifth and sixth evil exes, and the final boss Gideon Graves.
The movie rushes the battle between the twins and it doesn’t give Katayanagia much personality, whereas the video game shows they are masters of technology. The two built and pilot a Gundam-like robot to try to defeat Scott. Meanwhile the film’s final fight with Gideon is decently done, highlighting the relationship drama and Scott’s redemption, but the video game is an elaborate stage across multiple levels and a secret base.
Obviously, creating scenarios like that for the movie would weigh it down and feel off compared to its scale, but in the video game, it feels just right. The last levels with their “Mega Man” vibe dive into the roots of the source material.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is a story told in the language of video games and graphic novels — offshoots of nerd culture that complement each other like peanut butter and chocolate. With all things considered, the movie is better than the game, but fans shouldn’t discount how the beat-’em-up video game captures the atmosphere, mood and some details that have gone overlooked.
It’s the rare licensed game that actually helps fans enjoy the movie more and vice versa.
‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game — The Complete Edition’
3 stars out of 4
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Stadia