We're in the middle of a sort of renaissance of old-school beat 'em ups and it's pretty fantastic to see one finally make its way to Stadia. From the excellent Streets of Rage 4 and River City Girls to the recent Battletoads reboot and more, now is a good time to be a fan of walking from left to right while fighting bad guys.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game -- Complete Edition may have more subtitles than it does original ideas, and it's certainly not one of the best Stadia games, but what it lacks in innovation it more than makes up for in style and polish for genre fans. And for an 11-year old game that was already considered quite retro at the time of its original release, it's hard to expect anything more than that.
At a glance
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition on Stadia
Bottom line: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game -- Completion Edition is a very long title for a pretty short game. There isn't a whole lot going on here that you haven't seen before if you've ever played a side-scrolling beat 'em up at any point in the last 30+ years, but it's a serviceable homage to an era of gaming's past with enough nostalgia fuel to make you smile while punching through a slew of ex-boyfriends.
- Fantastic pixel art graphics and an amazing soundtrack
- Fun, simple progression system
- Plays great across all Stadia formats
- Lots of fun for co-op multiplayer
- Only a few hours long
- Difficulty spikes and pacing issues when playing solo
- Extra modes don't add much
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition review Story, Gameplay, and Presentation
|Title||Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game -- Complete Edition|
|Genre||Beat 'em up|
|Play Time||4 hours|
|Players||Solo, up to four total for local or online co-op|
|Release Date||Jan. 14, 2021|
In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, you take on the role of either Scott or one of his various companions on a journey to fight and defeat all of his girlfriend's ex-lovers. There is 4-player co-op either locally or online, but it's playable solo as well. It's a silly and extremely thin narrative that serves no purpose other than to push you through the levels, so it's good enough, but it would have been great if more of the jokes, humor, and referential moments from the graphic novel and movie made it into the game somehow. It's still clearly based on the same source material, but it doesn't seem to fully take advantage of being a game about a comic based on video games in the ways it could have.
The chiptune soundtrack is simply excellent and the pixel art is truly top-notch
Gameplay is just fine. You can punch, kick, jump, and block, but overall character movement (at least at first) is much more sluggish than I expected. Dashing seems faster than I'd like while walking is at a glacial pace. Blocking and countering mid-attack is nearly impossible, so getting stuck in long combo juggling from enemies ends up feeling very cheap and frustrating. Thankfully it doesn't take long to level up characters and learn new abilities and since your levels carry over even after a Game Over it's not too terrible. The difficulty spikes are real though, but that isn't very unusual for this genre, I just would have expected a bit of balancing work in a remaster. Instead, this is a pretty straightforward minimum-effort port as far as I can tell.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World excels the most in its presentation. The chiptune soundtrack is simply excellent, the pixel art is truly top-notch, and the brief animated scenes between levels and boss fights are all full of color and personality. Everything about this game screams nostalgia for better and for worse so much so that I'd consider it nearly impossible to even enjoy this if you don't have fond memories of games like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Double Dragon, and so on.
For a more in-depth analysis of the game itself, check out our Xbox review over on Windows Central. Now let's dive into the differences on Stadia.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition review Stadia performance and comparisons
As you can probably assume, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is not a very demanding game. I never had a single performance issue while playing and since the art style is very pixelated I doubt I would have even noticed any streaming-related hiccups at all even if they had occurred.
I also tried the game on PS5 (via the PS4 version) and it played great there, but the flexibility of being able to play a breezy beat 'em up like this across my phone, PC, and TV is just wonderful. Squishing that pixel art down to a phone screen, in my opinion, makes it look even better so I found myself preferring to play that way or on my Microsoft Go laptop/tablet hybrid. Blowing it up on my 4K TV via Chromecast was nice for sharing the experience with my son, but for my own tastes, I actually liked playing on mobile best.
Actually a really stellar game for Stadia since you can play it at your own pace
I tried it out using my Razer Kishi, using my Stadia controller, and using just touchscreen controls. Out of all the ways to play Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, my overall favorite (even including Chromecast or PC) was by far on mobile with a Razer Kishi. Retro games always feel at home on small electronics to me, so this was an excellent showcase for that. It's a snappy, fun, and simple game that you can blow through in just a couple of hours or play in quick bursts.
Thanks to the way the leveling system works you don't waste time just playing for ten minutes here and there to grind some XP and unlock new moves. If you don't finish an entire level, that's okay, you still made progress. In this way, it's actually a really stellar game for Stadia since you can play it at your own pace. And even though the extra game modes like the survival mode or the zombie mode don't really add much, they're perfect for quick sessions on mobile.
Remarkably, it's actually pretty playable with touch screen controls as well. Since it doesn't require lightning-fast reflexes or really precise timing most of the time, you can totally bang out a level on mobile using just virtual buttons if you want. My biggest gripe with this format, as is the case with any Stadia game, is that you can't remap the locations of the virtual buttons at all. I would love to have been able to move the virtual R1 to a more accessible spot closer to the face buttons since that's a special attack button here and is used often.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition review Should you buy it?
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is one of those games that, when you heard it was announced, you probably already made up your mind about whether or not you wanted to buy it. When it first released 11 years ago it already felt extremely old-school and that feeling is only exacerbated by recent releases in this genre that are far better in every way — like Streets of Rage 4.
It's not a bad game by any stretch, it just relies far too heavily on nostalgia to propel it forward. In a lot of ways, it's such a referential experience that if you're not a product of the 80s and early 90s so much of the game will be lost on you that it's hard to recommend.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition on Stadia
Blast from the past
As far as 2D beat 'em ups go there are certainly worse ones out there, but there are most definitely tons of better ones from the last 12 months as well. This is now suddenly a crowded genre and with no real upgrades from its original release 11 years ago, Scott Pilgrim is simply a good game with great, nostalgic visuals and music.
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