Triple Tap-Out Tu3sday: Scott Pilgrim Review

Last week saw the release of both the movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, as well as the game on the Playstation network.  Since both the movie and the game were both based on the long running comic series, I thought it would be a great idea to do a special edition of our “Double Tap 2uesday” features that covered all 3 versions of the series.  So read on as I cover Scott Pilgrim in his comic, film and game incarnations! It’s the Triple Tap-out!

The Comic:
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim is definitely a hard book to describe. Its art style is akin to Japanese anime, and its stories are full of pop culture and game references that commonly make it seem that Scott and his friends are actually living in a video game rather than the real world. While the series has been going since 2004, with the sixth and final volume having been published this year, many are only now becoming familiar with it due to the recent release of the movie. The story of Scott Pilgrim starts simply enough. 23 year old Scott has just started dating a 17 year old high school girl named Knives Chau after a nasty break up with his previous girlfriend a year ago. He plays bass in a band called Sex Bob-bomb (with his ex on drums) and shares a tiny (and crappy) apartment with his gay roommate Wallace Wells. Things start to take a turn for the strange when a mysterious girl named Ramona Flowers starts to show up in his dreams. After a series of clumsy meet-ups with her in the real word, he convinces her to go out with him, but soon learns that she has a bit of baggage. In order to date Ramona, Scott must defeat her seven evil exes.

The encounters with Ramona’s Exes usually play out like videogame “boss” encounters and it’s funny how no-one really questions Scott’s almost superhero ability to fight and take a beating.  Also in keeping with the book’s quirky sense of humor and its references to games, defeated exes usually vanish in a puff of smoke, becoming piles of coins.  Although it’s initially strange to get accustomed to the book’s alternate sense of reality, I found myself thoroughly entertained by the exploits of Scott and his cohorts. readers will find themselves very quickly going through all 6 volumes of the series just to see what happens next. Another little quirk of the book is how fairly common it is for characters to “break the fourth wall” many times when asked about certain things, saying that they’ll reveal them in a later volume or to check a previous volume for more information. It’s the little things like this that make the story and characters so likable. The comic’s art style lends itself well to over exaggeration to really convey emotions in characters. It’s an interesting mash-up of east meets west that actually works pretty well for the story. Characters all sport huge eyes and O’Malley often uses this to really bring out more emotion in the characters (often to comedic effect).

I found the series to be a great read from beginning to end. There are sad moments, thought provoking subjects, and enough action and humor to keep readers entertained throughout the course of the series. I highly recommend anyone that has not checked out the original series to do so, as it’s one of the most original and coolest series out there.


The Movie:
Although full of references to the comic series (and many sections of dialogue lifted verbatim) the Edgar Wright directed Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World manages to be just as enjoyable for fans of the series as well as newcomers. One thing immediately apparent is that the movie is fairly fast paced. Since it covers what is essentially 6 volumes of comics, It packs quite a deal of content into its almost 2 hour run-time. While initially recreating the first volume and a half of the series practically word for word, the latter part of the movie differs from the book in order to work within the shorter time constraints of the film. The movie and the books all ultimately arrive at the same location, the film just takes a slightly different path to get there.

While I initially questioned the casting of Michael Cera in the title role, he actually works as the underachieving character Scott. After recently finishing the comic series, I thought that the casting for every character was fairly spot on.  From Ellen Wong’s take on the (initially) quiet Knives Chau, to Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the mysterious Ramona Flowers, the actors did a phenomenal job of bringing Bryan Lee O’malley’s world to life. While the movie does a great job of reproducing much of the humor from the comics, there is plenty of new material here to keep those that are fairly familiar with the comics entertained and on their toes. It’s also worth mentioning that the special effects are fairly impressive, and the film is actually loaded with art from the comics. Fans of the books absolutely owe it to themselves to check out the movie, as it’s as faithful to the source material as it can possibly be.

While it’s true that the film probably won’t win any Oscars for its script or storytelling, in all honesty, it’s not a movie that sets out to. It’s a fun summer movie that feels like it’s meant to be enjoyed with a bunch of buddies at your side and a bucket of popcorn in your lap, and you can’t really fault it for that.

The Game:
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game is a blast. If anyone would have told me that one of the most fun 4 player games that I would have played this year would be a game based on a comic that was being released to tie in with a movie release, I might have suggested they get their head examined.

Although the game released simultaneously with the film, it more closely follows the comics in both it’s art style and progression. There are also tons of in jokes and references that only fans of the comic would pick up on (such as the bionic arm being sold in Wallace’s secret shop).

The game is full of references to tons of other games of the 80’s and 90’s. From its Mario Bros. 3 inspired map screen, to its shops that players can purchase power-ups ala River City Ransom, the game often times plays out like a love letter to games of the past, while packing in enough of the series offbeat humor to keep things fresh and give it a voice of its own.

Gameplay is akin to an old-school side scrolling beat ‘em up similar in style to games like final fight and double dragon. Players select from 4 different characters, each with their own fighting moves and special attacks. Players can also pick up practically anything in the world to use as a weapon (including enemies and other players)

The only real complaint that I had with the game is that there was no online multiplayer. If players want to play with their friends, they’ve all got to be playing on the same console.  Even with this small oversight however, the game is a well worth it’s $9.99 asking price every gamer deserves to give it a play through.

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  1. Pingback: GCPD Episode #12 (The Leaving on a Jetplane Episode) September 2, 2010 « Mighty Ink Comics and Entertainment

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