Scott Pilgrim: The Game is made to appeal to your sense of nostalgia. A beat-em-up in the vein of old 8- and 16-bit classics with a purposefully pixelated art style, your mission is simply to get from one end of the map to the other while beating the crap out of everyone who gets in your way. And, for a game that celebrates the simple pleasure of button-mashing, it's highly effective.
The game effortlessly weaves together nerd-culture references (from Super Mario Bros. to Akira) with levels and playstyle created to remind you of games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and River City Ransom. Miniscule background animations and character details ensure that, even when you're just wailing away on clones of enemies you've seen in every other level, they all look distinct. And like RCR (or more recently,Castle Crashers) you also level up your character -- earning new powers, greater strength, and more incentive to keep going, the further along you go.
But as enjoyable as it is to mindlessly bash through wave after wave of enemies, you're going to have to grind to get through the later stages; especially if you're playing on your own. Money you earn from battering your foes lets you buy apparel and food (both of which boost your stats). Unfortunately, there's no way to tell what stats will get boosted until after you've laid your money down. But pretty much every item addssomething to your character, even if it's a modest hit point upgrade -- and you're going to need a lot of hit points to make it through the later levels.
See, even though you have unlimited continues, Scott Pilgrim is brutally difficult. Even on the lowest difficult setting (Average Joe), I had to grind through the later levels over and over again, earning enough money for new upgrades, just to be able to survive long enough to make it to the boss. And the same cheap tactics you use on your opponents to trap them in corners and mercilessly wail away at them? Well, they can do that too. The only way to prevail against the never-ending waves is to boost your stats... or employ the help of a few friends. Getting more characters on screen makes the action even more chaotic, but, you can revive downed allies and share hit points to make even the most grueling levels a breeze.
And that highlights Scott Pilgim's real problem: the lack of any online multiplayer. If you want to play with friends, they have to be sitting on the couch in the same room with you. And if someone comes up and wants to join a game in progress, you have to exit out to the main menu to bring them in. You can't have friends jumping into a brawl mid-level. As a nostalgia-inducing romp through colorful worlds, Scott Pilgrim is a great time-waster. But even if you're not a twenty-to-thirty-something with fond memories of River City Ransom (or a huge fan of the Scott Pilgrim comic/movie), the detailed art and driving soundtrack from Anamanaguchi should be more than enough reason to give this retro-inspired brawler a try.