Over the years, games based on movies have developed a reputation for being notoriously bad, and the same can also be said when the scenario is reversed. But there are a few good ones that manage to slip though the cracks because they have one key element about them that gives them a stronger chance at being good. These games and movies I'm referring to are the ones based on books or comics. They either have more information to use (in the case of video games), or are much more flexible in terms of creative licensing (in the case of movies), but when it comes to graphic novels, reinterpretation can be tricky because visuals are supplied to the reader and it could cause problems if it isn't translated properly for use on the screen. Scott Pilgrim is the rare gem that breaks this trend as both the game and movie adaptations of the graphic novel they are based on are fantastic in their own right and I am going to cover each one in this comparative review.
Scott Pilgrim Graphic Novel
Released between the years of 2004 and 2010, this six part series tells the story of Scott Pilgrim, a lazy 23-year-old living in Toronto, Canada in a small flat primarily owned by his gay roommate Wallace Wells. In his spare time, Scott plays bass in a band called Sex Bob-omb with his friends Steven Stills (on guitar) and Kim Pine (on drums), or will go on a date with his 17-year-old girlfriend Knives Chau. Everything goes relatively smoothly for him until he sees a mysterious girl from his dreams appear in his life for real which he then seeks her out and attempts to get to know her. Shortly after he finds out that her name is Ramona Flowers, the two begin dating which prompts an unusual circumstance where if he wants to continue dating her, he needs to fight and defeat all seven of her evil exes. Now this kind of story can't really be played out too well without the visuals that were generously provided by the series author and illustrator, Bryan Lee O'Malley. There is action, romance, humor and many video game references. And the internal struggle Scott experiences when dealing with not only Ramona's exes, but also his own arises, it makes you feel a unusual combination of both disgust and pity for him. It's very much a metaphor for how many relationships have emotional baggage that needs to be dealt with before you can truly grow as a person and accept that some things are just out of your control (at least, that's what I got from it). A very good read and it can be knocked out in just a day if you have nothing to do.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World (Film)
Now unlike the books, the movie is altered a bit due to the fact that filming started before the books were finished being written. As such, some characters toward the second half of the film have different back stories and some plot elements were removed in favor of a battle of the bands style story. But at most, this only diminished the quality just slightly as the modified story is still very good and the scenes mirror many events in the novels up to the end of book four. Now while most of the movie follows the plot of the novels very well, many scenes were moved around to improve the flow of the story, but the visuals remain extremely faithful as it looks like they were lifted from the books themselves. Even if some of it seems a little out of place after reading the novels, it is still an engaging movie to experience and a lot of fun to watch as Michael Cera plays the role of Scott very well. This is a great film for movie night.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game
Now this is where things get interesting. The game adaptation of the novels was made to promote the film and was released around the same time the film was released to theaters. The game on the other hand, follows the books much more closely likely due to direct influence of the series author. The game is an arcade style RPG beat-em-up for up to four players, in which you can play as Scott, Kim, Steven or Ramona in a quest to defeat Ramona's seven evil exes. The game is mostly modeled in the same vein as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons Game, but is also influenced by River City Ransom as many of the actions you can perform, such as lifting and throwing downed enemies, and buying healing items and power ups from shops, can also be done. The gameplay can be a bit chaotic with four players on the screen at once, but to me, that just adds to the insanity that this game offers. Like most games with RPG elements, the more you fight, the more experience you get toward leveling up which grants new skills and powers at each level until you max out at sixteen. The game's graphics are outstanding; it is done in a style reminiscent of 16-bit and 32-bit games and was done mostly by Paul Robertson who is known for the animations Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 and Kings of Power 4Billion%. The music is fantastic too; all of the songs in the game are composed by chiptune rock band Anamanaguchi and it fits the style of the game extremely well. Everything about this game just meshes so well with everything else that's in it. My only real gripes about it are that it is a little short, it is a little repetitive and you can't play online until you buy the DLC for it and even then it can only be someone from your fiends list. Still, this is a great game and it is even more fun to play with friends.
Well, that's all I can say about this. If you wish to buy the books or the movie, you can get them from Amazon for pretty reasonable prices and if you wish to buy the game, you can download it to the PS3 and XB360 for about $15USD. But until then, I'll be seeing you.
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