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. Patrick Davison says:

    Scott Pilgrim is the single best comic I’ve read to come out in the last 5 years, and is arguably the piece of art that sums up my generation the best out of any art I’ve ever interacted with. I can’t praise it highly enough.

  2. ohnoabear says:

    Yeah, I kind of think of Scott Pilgrim as a zeitgeist thing, too (at least for bookish indie kids in their 20s). But at it’s core, it’s just a comic about being a young adult and hanging out with your friends. If you can’t understand that, you’ll never understand why people like it (hint: it might be nostalgia, but not in the referential pop-culture reference sense). Especially since most of the characters are shallow and self-interested at best.

    But that’s really how most people act at that age. It’s like complaining about a teen drama because all the characters are awkward and immature.

    Scott Pilgrim works because it understands what it feels like to be in your 20s, on your own and trying to figure out what to make of life. And then it takes those emotions and makes everything into a do-or-die, all-out battle with epic consequences, because that’s what everything feels like at that age. Every situation, every struggle, is new, which makes it seem huge and important even when it’s not.

    It’s pulp that manages to resonate because it captures the feel of reality without getting bogged down in the details of it. And it’s always entertaining.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    Like Spaced, it’s certainly a generational “thing”.

    KG

  4. Helm says:

    Actually, is it? I’ve made my dad watch Spaced and he enjoyed a lot of it (more than I did as I was closer to the situations lampooned and so found it more predictable). Older people were once teenagers and then young adults too (although some would be loathe to admit it) and it’s the beauty of art about the human condition that they are more universal than their superficial niches might initially suggest. I think a person with a minimal knowledge of videogames could – and should – still be able to enjoy something like SP provided they go at it without too many preconceptions. They can read around the bits of pop culture they aren’t familiar with.

    Also, isn’t that sort of thing to be recommended? I mean, to get people to interact with art that they’d think ‘is not meant for them’? I always find the idea that people should mostly peruse what they know they’d like/understand suspicious.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Helm: Well, yeah. Grown-ups liked the Beatles too, if you see what I mean. There’s an honesty from engaging with your moment which means it resonates. Or, at least, I think so.

    KG

  6. Thants says:

    A Canadian Spaced, eh? As a Canadian twenty-something who loves Spaced I think I might have to read this.

  7. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    I don’t see the connection between Spaced and SP frankly.

    Also Scott Pilgrim is a fool. He had a great thing going with Knives and he blew it to fight a bunch of wankers for a total bimbo. There I said it.

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    Mad Doc: Accurately drawn 20-somethings, pop-culture-references as comedy, embracing pop-culture riffs as ways to show character and similar, hyperspeed modern-storytelling techniques. That kind of thing.

    KG

  9. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Yeah, I guess if you put it that way.

    It was late-ish when I posted that.

  10. wretcherd says:

    For anyone who doesn’t own the books yet and is interested, they’re cheapest at http://www.bookdepository.co.uk.

    Just over £6 each with free delivery.

    “Sweet! Coins!”

  11. Comment system, what comment system? says:

    Thanks for turning me on to this book, I plowed through all 5 volumes this weekend. Funny stuff.