Scott Pilgrim Is Making A High Scorer

Fear the Vegans.

This broke at San Diego, but was left for me to talk about, because everyone on RPS knows how I feel about Scott Pilgrim and/or are very lazy. Ubisoft announced they’re making a game of the forthcoming Edgar “Spaced/Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz” Wright film-version of Bryan O’Malley’s irresistible Scott Pilgrim. This is a thing to be excited about.

Also, a thing to be almost certainly disappointed by. This will almost certainly be the next Brutal Legend. That is, a game which we’ll (i.e. I’ll) get excited by when it exists in the Schrodinger’s Release Formats part of the universe, but when it inevitably gets confirmed for console only, we’ll get all huffy. Mainly because we won’t be able to write about it any more.

But right here, right now, when according to O’Malley himself that the formats haven’t been decided we can start the hype-bandwagon and declare it the greatest game of all time even before there’s any screenshots. Or real confirmation of what you do in it, bar being a side-scrolling fighting game. This is about all we have to go on…

Ubisoft has said it’s a side-scrolling brawler, so there’s that. [laughs] I don’t know if some people know this, but there’s this Ninja Turtles game that came out a couple of years ago based on the recent CGI film, and the Gameboy Advance version was really cool. A lot of the same people that worked on that worked on this game, so it should be cool. Hopefully some of that will rub off on this.

Scott Pilgrim is about a bunch of Canadian twenty-somethings (And one teenager. Or maybe two. I’m never sure about Young Neil). The Lead, Scott Pilgrim, wants to date American Ninja Delivery Girl Ramona Flowers. To do so, she has to defeat her seven evil Exs in mortal combat. It’s pop-culture’s premier purveyor of what’s been described as Videogame logic. That being, taking the tropes of videogames and using them to both illustrate and propel a non-videogame narrative. Missing Save Points before important conversations so having to go in with no way back. Earning experience points for growing the fuck up. And – er – Earning Mithril Skateboards. Away from the metaphor, there’s an array of note-perfect references from play the bassline to Final Fantasy at an inappropriate moment, Monkey-Island notes and all the visual pastiches. It has consumed and been influenced by videogames in a way which I’d hope the vast majority of the readers of this blog would empathise with. It’s awesome. It’s clever and important in a manner which makes the unconverted not even see it.

Here’s something I said while wanking myself into a frenzy over the fifth and latest volume….

Something else about this volume: it keeps Scott’s charm and clear-world-view, with never being laugh-out-loud funny. It’s as witty book as you can wish for, but we’ve moved past laughing, at least for now. This shows how analysis of Pilgrim as “Videogame reference gags” is absolutely myopic. Take the GAME OVER legend over the barren streets, of the CONTINUE? one over Scott, locked outside the flat again with the Evil-Ex-monikered cat. They aren’t funny. They’re tragic. They resonate.

And this sort of thing brings the key value of Scott into clear focus. This isn’t (just) gags. This is about how humans of a certain generation process reality. I mean, take last week in New York. Jamie, 2000-AD writer Al Ewing and myself went up the Empire States Building. When looking over one of the greatest city of Earth, the reference points which were voiced were: Bioshock. Sim City. Risk pieces. That Scene In Preacher Where Cassidy Threw Himself Off. Point being, our art shapes how we relate to reality. Scott’s joy – and why it speaks to so many people – is that it understands the pulp through which we see the world, and assumes that’s as natural as blinking.

Scott Pilgrim compels because of its fundamental honesty, its fluency in a shared tongue and its lightness of touch. I can’t believe there’s only another volume to go. I wish that volume was out tomorrow.

Really, we know fuck all about Scott Pilgrim the videogame, but this is just a great opportunity to plug ’em. Five volumes available, with the final one coming out just after the film – which will be its own thing rather than trying to cram in all that into a couple of hours – are available from your favourite internet retailers. Go get ’em and thank me later.

The thread is now open for people yelping about Scott Pilgrim, people grumbling about Scott Pilgrim and frenetic brainstorming of what amusing stuff they should cram into this.

61 Comments

  1. LewieP says:

    The GBA TMNT game was really fucking good. Excellent balance of retro and contemporary design, and a hell of a lot of fun to play.

  2. Scorpi says:

    I love them – the author himself helped me find myself the latest volume, and an extra one for my girlfriend (criminally, they’re hard to find in Montreal, even though that’s where Scott’s own evil ex-girlfriend is from!)

  3. Railick says:

    What?!

  4. mathew says:

    “Art shapes how we relate to reality. Scott’s joy – and why it speaks to so many people – is that it understands the pulp through which we see the world, and assumes that’s as natural as blinking.”

    Very well said. I wonder why it is that the comics form understands this so well? Alan Moore’s The Black Dossier is far from the final word on this topic, but it’s the most recent one I was thinking about personally on these lines.

  5. Jae Armstrong says:

    Still waiting for Volume 5 to appear on Play.com. Mystified as to why it’s taking so long.

    Really don’t want to have to grapple with Amazon. :(

    Although on closer inpection Amazon.co.uk only has one second hand copy. Odd. Did it get a release on this side of the Atlantic at all?

  6. Gap Gen says:

    Something like the Penny Arcade game, perhaps? It will be interesting to see how they handle it (or if they just farm it off to some start-up studio and give them six months to produce it, as other film licenses often end up).

  7. chi hair straightener says:

    Life is a leaf of paper white, thereon each of us may write his word or two.

  8. Tei says:

    I can make a “Ramona is not on this castle” mario joke…

    I get some weeboo feelings of this. But If RPS is covering this, must be brilliant. Humm…

  9. PleasingFungus says:

    Man, Scott Pilgrim is the best.

    Just hope they don’t screw this up (too much).

  10. sebmojo says:

    Nice points KG. I don’t know Mr Pilgrim, but feel a bit the same about Order of the Stick – it’s nerdy pop-lit that uses profoundly disposable cultural building blocks to tell a story that, ultimately, is worth telling.

  11. Bret says:

    Scott Pilgrim rules. FACT.

    And I hear this will be River City Ransom style, which is incredibly great if true.

  12. Sisyphus says:

    Scott Pilgrim is tops.

    OOTS started out well, but is now a bit cumbersome. Erfworld carries that webcomic flag now.

    As for availability in the UK, I’m sure you’ve probably checked out your local but it’s been released pretty widely in all comic book stores. I had no trouble sourcing a copy in Australia.

  13. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I quite enjoy Scott Pilgrim but I’m not particularly interested in a videogame adaptation and I’m terrified of the planned movie version. I mean, Michael Cera? Really?

  14. sigma83 says:

    Sisyphus: Really? I like this story arc version of OOTS much better than the gag a day strips. The guy is quite a talented writer.

    For those who don’t know what we’re on about (I feel left out of internet discussions; /cry) The Order of the Stick is a webcomic about a party of D&D adventurers. Can be found at http://www.giantitp.com

  15. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    The pic picked for the post reminds me that Scott vs. Todd was a darned good “hero vs. villain” fight on top of those critic-friendly topics people tend to talk about when they talk about Scott Pilgrim. So the game ought to let you play through a proper reenactment of the Todd and Envy mini-arc, no matter what.

  16. DarkNoghri says:

    I know nothing about Scott Pilgrim. But the fact that someone mentioned TMNT and River City Ransom in relation to it makes me thing this could be the best thing since sliced bread.

    Slightly off topic, OOTS is quite good. I need to reread the entire series sometime. Erfworld was pretty much amazing by the end. And then it ended (sort of). I encourage everyone else here to check out Reckless Life at http://www.graphicsmash.com.

  17. 冰蓄冷空调 says:

    Every Living Person Has Problems

  18. Oozo says:

    As somebody who has privately and publicly been raving about Scott Pilgrim ever since Vol. 2 has been put out, I couldn’t help wondering about the meager amount of footage the books got from game-related websites… all the nicer to read this here, especially because it is very well put.
    You had me shocked there for a moment, though, with your claim that it was based on the movie; wouldn’t make much sense imho, since they are reported to be going for a more retro-approach (I mean, I can totally see the comic’s art-style or something pixel art-like being used for it, but I don’t think I could get all too excited about playing a digitized Michael Cera-avatar…). According to Mr. O’Malley’s website radiomaru.com, though, it’s only scheduled to be synchronized with the movie-release, not necessarily based on it.
    I can also see how an old-school beat em’ up would be kinda faithfull to the comic’s influences, even though I think that a lot of potential would remain untapped that way…
    In the end, I’m pretty confindet, though; not only because O’Malley is so, too, but also because he says he’s heavily involved in the development of the game – he definitely knows enough about games and cares enough about his creation not to let it gone to waste completely.
    And, after all, what is leaked day by day on Edgar Wright’s weblog about the movie inspires hope for the best, too – even though Cera was kind of a weird choice for the main-character.

  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’ve hope for the movie if only because Edgar Wright is the optimum directorial choice for the thing. Scott Pilgrim as the Canadian Spaced is something people have been saying since the first trade. It’ll be fine. I’m sure. Yes.

    I’ll admit: seeing the enormous banner with O’Malley’s art at Comicon put a big grin on my face.

    KG

  20. cullnean says:

    i feel even more uncool now for only really liking main stream marvel and a handfull of vertigo titles

  21. Octaeder says:

    I picked these up after you originally reviewed book 5 on your site Kieron, so this is me officially thanking you later.

    Thanks!

  22. Andresito says:

    Release it on PC madafakas!!

  23. Kieron Gillen says:

    Sometimes me wanking myself into a frenzy does the trick.

    KG

  24. sbs says:

    Ahaha this is going to be amazing.
    And thanks Kieron btw for that post on Scott Pilgrim back then, I don’t know if it was here or your blog, but I enjoyed it very much. What a brilliant little story.

  25. Larington says:

    Wait, a sidescroller, err, I have a feeling some executive will just go ahead and assume that this type of game is only really suited to a controller scheme and that’ll be the end of that.
    It’s what happened to brutal legend if I remember correctly.

    Of course, this also means that chances are the system demands of the game will be somewhat more moderate than your (Supposed) $5000 PC so there is still room for some hope I suppose.

  26. Morph says:

    Scott Pilgrim is pretty great, though I almost wish I’d waited till vol 6 came out before reading them all as coming to the end of vol 5 left me rather depressed.

    I’m looking forward to the film too. It’s Edgar Wright after all, and all the stuff on his blog makes me optomistic.

    But a video game… really? For all the video game trappings of the comic I just can’t see it working. If it’s about how we perceive the real world through our video game culture, then that doesn’t exactly translate to an actual video game. Fingers crossed and all but I’m not too hopeful.

  27. Dante says:

    Wanking yourself into a frenzy seems like a terrible idea, you might get double attacks, but you’re obliged to charge anyone in range, which can only end in embarrassment.

    Yeah, a Warhammer joke, I had to make of the geek quotient I lost from having no idea who Scott Pilgrim is.

    Thumbs up for more Edgar Wright movies though.

  28. Okami says:

    Actually frenzy doesn’t give you double attacks anymore, but +1 attack. Of course back in the olden days, frenzy gave you +1 to hit, +1 to wound and reduced the enemy’s saving throw by 1. Though I guess that the result of a wanking frenzy should ignore armor saving throws entirely.

    I guess I need to get out more often…

  29. Solario says:

    Rating: Totally fucking awesome.

  30. Ginger Yellow says:

    Got into SP a while back on Chris Sims’s recommendation (trust that man with your life for everything pop culture), and have loved it. That said, “Scott’s charm”? He’s a bit of a dick, really.

  31. Dracko says:

    A developer who hates games making an adaptation of a comic that hates games, music and human interaction?

    Match made in heaven.

  32. Dracko says:

    Yeah, if you consider Scott to be anything other than a total prick, you’ve misunderstood the comic, at that.

    It’s okay, most fans do.

  33. Kieron Gillen says:

    What do you *like* Dracko?

    KG

  34. Gap Gen says:

    My reading of it was that Scott isn’t intentionally a dick, he just doesn’t think things through particularly well.

  35. Ginger Yellow says:

    Dickishness is not a question of intent, at least not in Scott’s case. He’s just extraordinarily shallow and a moocher.

  36. Gap Gen says:

    Shallow? I can’t remember examples of this. But yeah, he is a moocher. Hard to deny that one.

  37. Morph says:

    Dickishness is totally a question of intent. People who are dicks set out to be dicks. Scott just ambles through life. He’s totally a moocher though, yeah.

  38. Solario says:

    His start-up infatuation with Ramona is a bit shallow, but I think Scott’s biggest flaw is that he’s, not intentionally, kind of a douche to other people, because he’s an egoist.

    I still like him though.

  39. Solario says:

    Scott Pilgrim is a User. An endearing aimless User, but a User no less.

  40. Kieron Gillen says:

    Paraphrase: “Are you happy, Scott, or really, really evil?”

    KG

  41. The Great Ramiz says:

    The Great Ramiz predicts the future!
    This game;
    Will suck.
    Will not sell well.

  42. Ginger Yellow says:

    ” An endearing aimless User, but a User no less.”

    Yeah, this.

  43. phil says:

    @Dante – That was possibly the finest wanking/warhammer joke I’ve ever heard.

    Side-scrolling beat-em ups are not the best venue for post modern character driven humor – the Simpsons video game was fun and all that but it was hardly the Simpsons.

  44. Helm says:

    I do agree with you Kieron about Scott Pilgrim, at least, in theory. I don’t think the videogame stuff are treated as a gimmick (at first I had trouble with some of it, but consistency helped), as you say, it’s a valid lens through which to examine the emotions of the characters, honest, even. If that’s what you’ve lived then that’s what you talk about and through, sure.

    My problem with the books is that they seem kinda effortlessly drawn. The pacing is pretty great in some sequences, brilliant in others, he has a real touch for time manipulation, but I guess I feel like he’s in ‘rapid fire’ mode when he draws the pages, I imagine him doing 2-3 pages a day sometimes, I don’t have any info if that’s a reality, but that’s how the books come off for me.

    For some people this isn’t a problem at all, I guess I’m kinda naive and romantic in that I’m mostly interested in art not just when it’s honest (which Scott Pilgrim is) or visionary (again, yup) but also when there’s a lot of hard work that goes into every aspect of the execution.

    Of course somebody could argue that doing so many pages of a same story and holding it together takes a lot of hard work and they’d be right. Scott Pilgrim, from what I’ve read, doesn’t lose its aim halfway like a lot of other ‘painless’ periodicals I’ve read in similar styles, so props to Bryan O’Malley for that. But that’s one aspect of the work.

    I know this is kinda like criticizing Peanuts because Charlie Brown can be drawn with 5 brush-strokes… it’s not a generalized fault I see with ALL comics… I guess I’m trying to see if there’s anyone else that feels like I do in this particular case.

  45. Funky Badger says:

    OT: OOTS was good for about 30-40 strips (and the “2” gag in the first strip was gold) – then got extremely tedious, extremely quickly. Ironically when he split the party up and got them to try to save the world…

    Dunno about SP, but it sounds a bit, well, Pseud’s Corner

  46. James T says:

    I can make a “Ramona is not on this castle” mario joke…

    You’re at least as qualified as BOM to write SP then!

    I know this is kinda like criticizing Peanuts because Charlie Brown can be drawn with 5 brush-strokes…

    Well, not really; Schultz at least made individually distinct characters within his style.

    [digs up an oldie]

    I’m 3-and-a-bit books into ‘Scott Pilgrim’;

    (This didn’t change much, I gave up at book 4)

    …Some of the dialogue was relatively amusing early on, so that was nice, but aside from a few marginally affecting reminders of my horrible teenage excuses-for-relationships (which require only rhat a writer happen to chuck the right set of circumstances into their story, so no bonus points there LOL THAT SOUNDED LIKE A VIDEOGAME REFERENCE), I feeling no attachment to, affection for, or interest in anyone in it — not even the much-trodden-upon Knives, and definitely not Scott. They’re not just written shallowly, it extends to the art too — it’s cute that they keep changing their hair, but since hairstyle is the only thing to visually differentiate almost any of the key characters from one another (apart from freckles… which are found only on two unintentionally identical blondes anyway!), it reduces group altercations into a mush of “wait, who’s that? When did they turn against her? Is that not who I thought it was? I thought those two were together…” The limitations of the artwork and the just-about-adequate story are one thing; quite another are the horrible videogame parts; dreadul, pandering, IF I PRESS UP DOWN UP DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT A B START, I UNLEASH NOSTALGIA POWERUP & DON’T HAVE TO TRY ANYMORE stuff. ‘Sex Bob-omb’? Get fucked*. I honestly don’t think Bryan O’Malley is being cynical in his Dane-Cook-esque “REMEMBER MEGAMAN?! ALSO: I AM APROP-ER-ATING AKIRA” nostalgio-whimsy (I actually really like the ‘seven evil exes’ setup; if only he’d put some effort in) but it still strikes me as really lazy, really unclever stuff.

    * Alright, ‘Kid Chameleon’ was good choice.

  47. James T says:

    Also: Test.

  48. Gap Gen says:

    I think the life-as-games thing could be more extensively explored, but I don’t think he’s going all-out on that concept, really. It strikes me as a kind of indie lifestyle comic with occasional game references.

  49. a says:

    Well I do like comics and videogames, as well. Also, when I was reading KG’s bit on the comic and saw “Empire State Building”, first thing I thought of was ol’ Cass. =3