Wuv. Twue Wuv.
  • Ubisoft
  • Wuv. Twue Wuv.

What happens when I miss a deadline for the print version of The Merc, yet have to do something to avoid my text becoming antiquated? It appears on Blogtown, where the pretension is 20 percent less likely to give you a paper cut!

This latest bit of gaming criticism covers Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the (momentarily) PlayStation 3 exclusive, 2D beat 'em up downloadable title that is equal parts retro gaming nostalgia festival and promotional tie in for the upcoming Scott Pilgrim film (starring Michael Cera as A Terrible Casting Decision).

The twist? You'd think that, what with my being a mid-20s gaming journalist with a known hard-on for the work of Paul Robertson, this game would have me rolling on the floor, hugging kittens and squealing, and yet ... not so much.

Hit the jump for a 330 word explanation.

Canadian indie rock: Succubus magnet
  • Ubisoft
  • Canadian indie rock: Succubus magnet

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Developed By Ubisoft
Available Now For PlayStation 3

There's a simple formula behind Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (the game based on the film based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's comic cum hipster Bible of the same name): Take River City Ransom's combat system, coat in a thick layer of the finest in modern sprite art (courtesy Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 creator Paul Robertson), charge $10 for it and watch the cash roll in.

If that seems like a cynical assessment of a game that should appeal to me, that's because it is. The problem with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World isn't that it's bad. It's not. The game follows the above formula to the letter and offers its target demographic the beat 'em up their kid-self is craving. In choosing to ape the beloved games of yesteryear however, it has cursed itself to a shallow existence.

This isn't a game that you will play for hundreds of hours. Or tens of hours. I doubt anyone I know will be playing it a month from now.

I admit, some of the game's modern additions are pretty awesome. The graphics are stunning — I get geek chills just watching the trailers — and the character designs are both faithful to the comic and original enough to support a few hours of punching sprites in the face. Combat likewise, shows a lot more depth than the classic games that are being homaged here, yet SPVTW never loses the crisp, responsive controls that a quality beat 'em up requires.

Still, I had hoped this game would be … I don't know what. What I wanted probably doesn't exist anywhere but in my mind. It shouldn't shock me that a game like this is shallow, but I can't help but feel that the developers missed an opportunity to do something more with the license. Maybe that's just the part of me that dug the original comics shouting over the rational, gaming critic part of me.

I just hope the upcoming film has a bit more substance.