I tweeted a while back that the world needed the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World video game. Having played the demo on the PS3 (waiting for it to hit the 360 on August 24 before buying), I stand by that statement. This game has the potential to almost single-handedly resurrect what is, for all intents and purposes, a dead genre: the beat-em-up.
Those not familiar with this kind of game make me sad, and I’m hoping that you’re just a figment of my imagination; but in case you’re not, the beat-em-up is a game that revolves around one concept: kick the crap out of everyone in your path in order to accomplish the goal. Traditionally, these goals are saving someone, whether it’s the president, your girlfriend or maybe even a bunch of kidnapped women. Sometimes you got to achieve complex goals like saving a school and your girlfriend at the same time but generally that was too complex of a storyline for the desired game experience.
Scott Pilgrim is all of the great things about old-school beat-em-ups whipped into one frothy mass of violence. Judging from screenshots, reviews and the first level demo, it’s a mysterious alloy composed of 78% River City Ransom, 7% Double Dragon, and 2% or less of other games like Streets of Rage, Vigilante and even Super Mario Bros. 3 . It takes the gameplay elements of those older days and combines them with modern processing power in terms of framerate and soundtrack. You can use virtually anything as a weapon (including downed enemies that can you can pick up and whack other enemies with); the gameplay is hard, sometimes to the point of brutal; beaten foes drop money that you use to buy food or items to restore life and increase stats; and the game takes none of this too seriously.
What things like Golden Axe and Final Fight failed to do when offered as downloadable games was to excite modern gamers. (You can observe this by the ability to get online games — a mere two weeks after Capcom’s release of Final Fight Double Impact, online games were scarce.) Scott Pilgrim has a chance to do that, being released around the same time as a movie based on the book, which has only just recently concluded. It’s fast, flashy (featuring colorful old-school inspired graphics and a killer soundtrack from Anamanaguschi), addictive and deep for a brawler. Those who never experienced the pleasure of beating a few hundred people unconscious with their virtual fists might enjoy the game enough to look up other games like it, which could re-ignite interest in the genre.
Who knows? Scott Pilgrim could be the Double Dragon of this era, grandfathering in a new wave of take-it-to-the-streets action. Only time will tell, but as a gamer, you owe it to yourself to at least try this one. And then go dig up that ROM or cartridge of River City Ransom and enjoy an afternoon of smacking people around until they yell “BARF!” and drop just enough change for you to go buy that Grand Slam technique book. Isn’t that what gaming is all about?