In the late 80's and early 90's, Beat 'em ups were king. You couldn't walk into a pizza parlor, a 7-11, or traditional video game arcade without seeing such classic titles as Final Fight, Golden Axe, or Double Dragon lined up ready to engorge themselves on the pocket change of 10 year old kids. Complicated combos, ultra realistic graphics and complicated plot lines weren't required. All you needed was one to four protagonists armed with a punch, jump, and kick button against an unending sea of easily dispatched henchmen and incredibly punch resilient bosses. As video games moved beyond the 8 and 16 bit era, the classic beat 'em up became a dinosaur of simple game making, consigned to the occasional appearance at Dave and Busters. So it comes as no surprise that a game based on Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Bryan Lee O'Malley's seminal graphic novel series, would chose this genre.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World isn't just a love letter to nerd culture and video games, it's also a love letter to one of the best classic NES games of it's time, River City Ransom. Like RCR, it incorporates RPG elements, allowing a player to level up and unlock more special moves while earning experience and money from defeating bad guys to buy items. One to four players can play as Scott, Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine, or Stephen Stills as they navigate through legions of Canadian hipster baddies on their quest to battle Ramona's evil exes.
If you never heard of Scott Pilgrim, do yourself a favor and go buy the graphic novels or at minimum, go see the Michael Cera movie. Not only does this game follow the art direction of the graphic novels perfectly as well as incorporate many little video game and geek references, it manages to do so in a very 8-bit style. Fans of the books will notice references to the novels and games such as Super Mario Bros sprinkled throughout the levels while uberdorks will have their minds blown at playing a video game based on a comic series whose plot plays out like a video game.
The game play itself is fairly standard to all Beat'em ups. You punch, you kick, you occasionally jump (and kick). Weapons are sprinkled all over the ground and health can be replenished by visiting shops and purchasing food bought with money gained from defeated enemies. The music is phenomenal, with frenetic upbeat tracks composed by Anamanaguchi pumping out beats you can stomp your enemies to. And at a modest price of 10 dollars, there's no reason to not get this game.
-Follows the plot of the comics
-Great music track
-Beautiful colorful 8 bit animation
-A love letter to 8 bit video games and River City Ransom
-Has all the things you hate about beat 'em ups: very few lives, bosses that can kill you multiple times with no effort, and attacks that can't be blocked if you happen to stand in the wrong place.
-Fairly short game play
-Is less fun in single player.