Every so often a miracle occurs in the video game industry by way of a licensed title – commonly tying in with the release of an upcoming movie release- that actually does credit to its source material. In the mid-90s the best example of this happening was a little known N64 multiplayer-centric shooter called Goldeneye. But since then, Rocksteady’s critically acclaimed Arkham games have done a pretty good job at taking over the mantle.
Both these titles went onto to establish a reputation for bucking a typically problematic trend, even against the odds. But while many AAA titles achieve widespread glory, it’s the cult licensed video games that more often go unnoticed for doing very much the same. Scott Pilgrim vs the World released in 2010 on PSN and XBLA is one such game, but sadly most will never get the chance to experience it.
An adaptation of comic book author Bryan Lee O’Malley’s wildly successful graphic novels and Edgar Wright’s movie adaptation of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs the World saw the 80s inspired franchise come full circle. It took the shape of your classic side-scrolling beat ‘em up brawler, a style of play aped by the original source material originally anyway. It’s this back and forth between book, movie, and game which allowed all 3 experiences to inform each other so effortlessly. Here, for the first time in years was a licensed game that new exactly what form to take and tone to opt for.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World was a more experimental outing for the often tower-obsessed Ubisoft Montreal, and their risk paid off in beautiful 16-bit fashion. Taking to the streets of Canada, as the titular Scott Pilgrim and friends you’re tasked to work your way through hordes and hordes of enemy punks, picking up power-ups and gaining more experience as you go. The gamification of Scott Pilgrim vs the World’s premise became a reality, as each level would end with you defeating one of Ramona’s evil ex boyfriends.
Such faithfulness might seem detrimental to the very idea of doing something new with established concepts, but somehow in Scott Pilgrim vs the World it just, works. Backed up by an appropriately chip-tune soundtrack and brimming full of personality, the game is hailed as one of the greatest modern brawlers by many. But what makes Scott Pilgrim vs the World so elusive from recent conversion? Somewhat ironically: Licensing!
Sadly, since December of 2014, Scott Pilgrim vs the World has been unavailable from either of its original platforms. No ROM or emulated version of the game currently exists due to the lack of a PC release, leaving it currently a game lost to time. And that’s a shame. Scott Pilgrim vs the World not only proved that a retro-throwback licensed game was possible, but genuinely enthralling when handled correctly. Creator Bryan Lee O’Malley recently took to twitter expressing his desire to shove the game back into the limelight, but unfortunately until that happens, it’s addictive boss rush action stays elusive.