Friday, August 13, 2010

I Kicked Him So Hard He Saw the Curvature of the Earth: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Videogame

Based on my experience with the six Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, I think it's safe to say Bryan Lee O'Malley loves River City Ransom. It may well be his favorite NES game. Many games get referenced or namechecked in Scott Pilgrim; Ninja Gaiden, Clash at Demonhead and Shatterhand, to name a few, but none seem to get as many references. The entire flashback scene involving Scott's high school band, Sonic & Knuckles, his meeting Lisa Miller, his introduction to Kim P., all of that pivots on a big reference to RCR. The fact that when he beats someone they turn into coins references RCR. In fact, even rival band, Crash & the Boys is a reference to another game in the same series as RCR.

This being the case, it makes sense that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Videogame is essentially a big, fat homage not only to the beat-'em-up genre in general, but River City Ransom in specific. There isn't a contiguous world, as in River City, but it does have an overworld map. It also has shops where food, items and new techniques can be purchased. In fact, much like Ransom, there's a hidden shop in a tunnel that features crazy expensive items that superpower your character. In fact, the Grand Slam technique from River City Ransom even shows up at later levels.

However, there's more references than just that. There are really great references to Clash at Demonhead (check out the crowd at Julie's constume party), Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (look for a hidden shop) and myraid others. Not to mention a smattering of movie, TV and music references.

"But Joe," you say, "is it any good?"

Well, funny you should ask. It is good. It's best played multiplayer, of course, and this shows the game's biggest weakness: a lack of online multiplayer. I haven't heard a reason for this, and I'm not sure there is a good one. Castle Crashers had wonky online, but at least it was there.

Overall, though, it's a ten buck game, and I'm not going to kvetch too much about that. I can always round up my roommate for some co-op, if I need help. It's got a levelling system, tons of moves, weapons, and enough little easter eggs (have you found Knives dad yet?) to keep you busy for a while. Overall, it's a very competent game in a rare genre. Plus, it's got plenty of Scott Pilgrim fanservice!

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