Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (XBLA)

Anamanaguchi's soundtrack is divine, by the way.

This post may mark a slightly sharp turn in approach. I set this whole thing up around January last year, and I thought that if I was diligent, I could probably hold myself to a decent-enough schedule of a fortnightly post to chronicle what I’d been doing. How I was wrong. It turns out that things get in the way. Well, who’d have known?

So from this point, I think I might start just jotting things down here; little snippets, blog cuttings, if you will, of my experiences. Something perhaps more akin to what I bet legions of videogame bloggers dub ‘The Penny Arcade Approach’. That is to say that I’ll use this place more as a reflection of what’s going on around me, instead of trying to find the time to play games, complete them and then muster up the courage to spill one thousand words over them.

Scott Pilgrim, then, was a chance discovery of a Marketplace bargain. 400 points? I’m in. It’s a winning price point: if it’s a bad game, you spent a pittance to discover that, but if it’s a good game, you spent a pittance to discover that. The game is a wonderful beat ‘em up trip down memory lane of rainy Sundays spent in my Dad’s living room playing Streets of Rage 2 or Golden Axe 2 with my brother (an ongoing cycle of sequels that culminated in an argument almost every time, and which revealed a cunning streak and I volunteered to ‘collect the money’ in SoR2. To spend on what? ). Scott and his friends are put into an 8-bit style reminiscent of all games of that era, with many citing River City Ransom as a strong reference point. Mind you, it’s a reference that’s lost on me because I never touched the game, though I’m familiar with the Mega64 riff based on it.

SPvTW is great fun, but it’s probably the most broken game I played from the Marketplace so far. I have so far steered clear of Fallout 3 and it’s bad reputation for full-on lockdown, but the spirit of that experience has come to visit me in my home through the medium of SPvTW. It’s surprising that the game has been out for two or three months now, and no-one has bothered to fix it. Asides from game coding flaws, the most outstanding, sore-thumb-esque fault of the game is a complete lack of online multiplayer. In a title packed with references to halcyon days of gaming, it’s cute that they have opted to encourage gamers to find a friend to play alongside locally, on a sofa, like two buds. The major flaw is that I’d wager that the majority of people who own an Xbox 360 or PS3 don’t own multiple controllers for it. Perhaps one extra, but when the game is offering you the chance to play with 4 people, it seems like such a waste to not have even considered that maybe local-only play was not a wise choice. It’s a real shame, and it’s been a reason I’ve heard spouted more than a few times in recent weeks with regards to why people were not picking up the game ar it’s 400 price-point.

The title is a winner, in terms of gameplay, story, graphics, sounds (as mentioned in the picture caption, NYC chiptune-punk band Anamanaguchi provide easily one of the greatest soundtracks of the year) and the countless nods to other titles of gaming lore. Each character, for instance, has their own end of level animation that echoes a different character from Nintendo’s back catalogue. At times it’s almost surprising that they got away with it, but I am glad that they did. These are not obscure references, I promise. And certainly if you are someone who has read the comics upon which both it and the film are based, you will find plenty to enjoy. Unfortunately, as with all film tie-ins, something had to go wrong. Despite the bad points, I would recommend it, thought perhaps not at more than the bargain amount I got it for.

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