The first time I ever saw Scott Pilgrim was at E3 2010. Even knowing little about the series or its beat 'em up inspirations—I never played much River City Ransom growing up—I was immediately taken with its spectacular art and music.
When Scott Pilgrim was subsequently released a couple months later, it was praised in many quarters for its looks, but criticized for unbalanced difficulty that required grinding. It was also buggy—very buggy. The later levels especially had a lot of irritating glitches and unbalanced platforming. After falling into a pit for the umpteenth time, a friend of mine threw his controller down and said, "F*ck this game."
Those memories colored my opinion of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World for a long time. And yet, I never knew how good I had it. In 2014, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was delisted from Xbox Live Arcade and PSN, making it all but inaccessible. Short of buying an old Xbox 360 or PS3 with Scott Pilgrim on the hard drive, or negotiating the somewhat complex PS3 emulation process, there's no way to revisit what many now consider to be a classic beat 'em up.
The situation faced by Scott Pilgrim's fans is a frustrating reality of the digital age. Many games are rare these days, but they are still theoretically accessible if you pick up an old NES and a cartridge. Digital games, by contrast, are subject to the whims of publishers and complex licensing agreements; if they're gone, they're gone. Since its removal, the Scott Pilgrim game has largely lived in the memory of its fans; the only real evidence of its existence being Anamanaguchi's excellent soundtrack, which can still be found on Spotify, and a brief animated sprite at the end of the film's credits.
Lately though, there's been a push to get Scott Pilgrim back on modern consoles, fueled by nostalgia for the film and the comic series. Both series creator Bryan Lee O'Malley and film director Edgar Wright tweeted a public request to Ubisoft back in May, prompting a thinking emoji from the publisher. Last week, O'Malley tweeted that he had been petitioning Ubisoft for a re-release for "4+ years" to no avail, followed by a cryptic, "P.S. ubisoft has reached out to me."
Why does a buggy last-gen beat 'em up continue to inspire so much passion? Part of it is that when a piece of media is difficult to access, it's that much more alluring; part of it is that Scott Pilgrim still enjoys a sizable cult following, and part of it is that the game is just that good. Yes, really.
I've come around on the Scott Pilgrim game over the last 10 years and change. It's just hard not to appreciate the amount of love put into its design: Paul Robertson's spectacular sprite art, energetic Anamanaguchi tracks like "Rock Club," and wonderfully weird setpieces like the glitch world and its flying pigs. It was also well-supported for its time, with characters including Wallace Wells and Knives Chau being added as DLC characters along with online multiplayer.
These memories have lately left me itching to revisit Scott Pilgrim, but to no avail. I never bought it on PS3, and my Xbox 360 is long gone, so I have no recourse but to hope for an official re-release by Ubisoft. The odds, unfortunately, seem slim. O'Malley himself has said that he would be "as surprised as you" if Scott Pilgrim ever appears again on digital storefronts. The hassle of sorting out the rights agreements is likely too much given the probable return.
Still, Ubisoft should find a way to make it available anyway, if only out of a desire to aid game preservation in some way. A physical release from Limited Run Games would certainly go over well, as would a Switch release. There are plenty of avenues for Ubisoft go down if it so desires.
Whatever happens, it's a crime that a game as beautiful as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is impossible to play in any practical way. It's high time for Ubisoft to make things right and let us fight again on the snowy streets of Toronto once again.
Major Game Releases: August 17 to August 21
Here are the major releases for the week of August 17 to August 21. Want to see the complete list? Check out our full list of video game release dates for 2020.
- Microsoft Flight Simulator [August 18 for PC]: Get ready to go up, up into the wild blue yonder-if your PC is up to the challenge. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a beautiful pilot sim that's so meticulously engineered, I imagine it'll wow professional pilots. Of course, there's nothing to stop a novice from crashing their Cessna nose-first into a cow pasture.
- Rogue Legacy 2 [August 18 for PC]: The Rogue Legacy bloodline finally carries on with Rogue Legacy 2, which enters early access this week. Like its predecessor, Rogue Legacy 2 is built upon the curse of heredity. When you die while exploring Rogue Legacy 2—and you will—your progeny will carry on your quest, despite their near-sightedness, colorblindness, or whatever other "gifts" their fathers and mothers bestowed upon them. The first Rogue Legacy remains one of my favorite indie platformers.
- Battletoads [August 20 for Xbox One, PC]: The original NES release of Battletoads was one of those games that seemed to be everywhere. It regained relevance when 4channers and other assorted trolls called GameStop and Pawn Stars and other locales asking if they possessed the infamously difficult beat-em-up. Battletoads 2020 appropriately centers around the 'Toads's attempts to crawl back into the spotlight. It's a light-hearted belt-brawler with a weird sense of humor. There are even difficulty options, which should soothe anyone who still has nightmares about the original game's Turbo Tunnel.
Five Things You Should Know Heading Into This Week In Gaming
- Epic is in an all-out war with Apple. Yes, two Kaiju-sized entities are roaring and scratching at one another, and all us mortals can do is stay out of the way and munch popcorn. Basically, Epic has beef with Apple taking 30% of all App Store transactions, which led the studio to take Fortnite off iOS. (It was subsequently booted off Google Play as well, which led Epic to file a lawsuit.) Apple has since stated Epic will be cut off from all iOS and Mac development tools at the end of the month. There's really no one to root for in this situation. Yes, Apple's 30% cut is ridiculous, but that's a problem for indie developers; Epic makes millions upon millions with Fortnite. Epic also put out a gross parody of Apple's 1984 ad that made me burp up a bit of my lunch when I saw it. Yuck.
- A Nintendo Indie World Showcase is coming tomorrow: Tune in tomorrow morning/afternoon for a glimpse of what indie developers have in store for the Nintendo Switch! I'm hoping for a glimpse of Eastward, Pixpil's upcoming RPG. Its sprite art is charming; I hope it plays as well as it looks. Obviously, there's some disappointment that the Indie World Showcase isn't a full-blown Nintendo Direct, but there's been some buzz on social media about an Indie World Showcase preceding a full Direct. Maybe the prophecies are true...
- Summer Games Done Quick is on. Speedrunners from all over the world will show off their best times this week, and it's already a spectacle. We put together a schedule of runs you won't want to miss. The show will close out with an any-% run of Pokemon Shield. That should be something. Let's hope Games Done Quick can happen live and in person again sometime next year. Dang coronavirus.
- The Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Kickstarter campaign is flying. People are super-excited about Eiyuden Chronicle, the spiritual successor to the Suikoden series that's being put together by Suikoden alumni. The Kickstarter has 11 days left, but it's already garnered well over $3 million USD at the time of this writing. The campaign met its latest stretch goal, which promises we'll get 108 recruitable characters—a staple of the Suikoden series. Pardon: make that 109 recruitable characters. Eiyuden Chronicles needs a touch of flare to separate itself from its inspiration, after all.
- It's the 20th anniversary of Chrono Cross, and people are as divisive as ever about the strange RPG. I love Chrono Cross, even if its story is a mess. At least it's a unique mess. The key is to ignore most of what the characters are saying and instead soak in the atmosphere. Squaresoft was masterful at infusing its '90s PlayStation games with atmosphere. Maybe it was the fixed camera angles and the pre-rendered backgrounds. Whatever it was, it was magical.
Axe of the Blood God for August 17, 2020
Axe of the Blood God is our official RPG podcast releasing every single Monday. You can find subscription info here. We also put out an Axe of the Blood God newsletter every Wednesday, which you can subscribe to here.
It was the year 2000, and Square was pushing three big RPGs on the Sony PlayStation. The games themselves-Chrono Cross, Threads of Fate, and Legend of Mana-met with a mixed reception, but the Summer of Adventure 2000 said more about where Square stood in that particular moment in history. Kat and Nadia remember this unique period in gaming history, the RPGs it spawned, and Back to the Future 2 (?) in this look back on the mythical summer of 2000. Listen here!