|System: PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal / Ubisoft Chengdu||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 10, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Making a retro-inspired game can be a treacherous business. Though people love reveling in the good ol days, it is important in games like these to balance the nostalgia factor with an experience that still feels fresh. Few games achieve this balance, and I was surprised that a downloadable movie tie-in game would be the one to create a new experience that absolutely nails what a retro-inspired game should be.
The game wastes no time pulling you into the world of Scott Pilgrim and introduces the games simple storyline with a second cutscene. You see Scott fall in love with Ramona and then BAM, seven evil exes enter the picture. The games setup is blissfully simple, and you wont find much here in the way of storyline. In fact, there is no dialogue in the game, and characters feelings are expressed via emoticons that appear above their heads when something dramatic is going on.
Scott Pilgrims format takes the form of a traditional side-scrolling beat em up like Streets of Rage or Double Dragon. You can play as Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Stephen Stills, or Kim Pine. Each character has their own attacks and special movies, and while theres no real tactical difference between the characters, youll find your favorite rather quickly.
The combat system begins simply, with each character having four attacks: light, heavy, special, and summon. The light and heavy attacks can be combined to form combos, which deal extra damage to enemies without the cost of energy. The interesting thing about Scott Pilgrim, however, (and one of the things that gives users a fresh experience rather than just retro rehash) is the presence of a unique leveling system. Every enemy defeated contributes a certain amount of experience points to your characters stats, which are only viewable from the Start menu as best as I can tell. After you reach a certain threshold, your characters attack and defense will increase, and you will also gain access to new combo attacks.
The leveling system is used here to great effect, and when you are playing solo, it is a necessity to do some grinding in early levels to get your character to a point where he or she can take on the hordes of enemies that await in later chapters. However, if you are playing with more than one person, the leveling system becomes less of an issue. The games co-op system allows four local players (no online here, sorry) to play together on the same screen. The co-op is not drop-in, but you can add people from the main menu at any time. In addition, if one player has been making some progress, players can join a game already in progress. The only caveat here is that if the new players are starting off at level one, they wont be able to jump in immediately and play without running into some serious trouble. Of course, you can always start a completely new game and start everyone off at stage and level one, but if you are just looking for some temporary help with one particularly difficult level, you may be disappointed.
Despite these few qualms about the co-op system, the game plays like a retro dream. Each level has its own particular visual scheme, with unique enemies and challenges. Environments range from a crowded concert hall with plenty of bar space to a bustling movie set plagued by camera-wielding paparazzi. The level design includes plenty of secret bonus areas that you can explore as well as destructible items that grant rewards. The games design also calls out several retro classics (youll see a Mario pipe right on the world map and one of the movie sets in the second level looks just like an old Indiana Jones game), and the game has plenty of secret unlockables that recall older titles as well (including Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy). Although none of these shout-outs are overt, savvy gamers will recognize the references easily, and discovering the games Easter egg-type references adds a whole new level to the game.