Although beloved independent comic book Scott Pilgrim concluded in July 2010, it received film and video game adaptations shortly afterward that firmly lodged the series in mainstream pop culture. The movie is fine, but the game is considered a lost gem due to its delisting from digital storefronts only a few years post-release. Now, on its tenth anniversary, the conversation about how to bring Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game back to its fans is only getting hotter.
This most recent renewal of interest in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game started, fittingly, with Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley. The artist commemorated the game’s tenth anniversary with a Twitter thread about its status, putting the impetus on publisher Ubisoft for any kind of re-release.
“For years now, I’ve been saying, ‘If Ubisoft ever puts the game out again, I’ll be as surprised as you,’” O’Malley wrote, tagging Ubisoft’s official Twitter account. “I keep asking around and Ubisoft hasn’t contacted me or anyone who worked on the game in any capacity. If the Scott Pilgrim game does get re-released and none of us are involved, how messed up is that? It’s messed up.”
O’Malley also claimed that he, Scott Pilgrim publisher Oni Press, and video game boutique iam8bit have long discussed the possibilities of a physical edition should a re-release ever happen. After four years, however, Ubisoft has yet to respond to any of their efforts at communication. Speaking to Kotaku, an Ubisoft rep said they had nothing to share about the Scott Pilgrim game. O’Malley did not get back to us.
Scott Pilgrim as an intellectual property has always had a strong connection to video games. O’Malley’s characters look like they jumped right out of River City Showdown, and the comic book and movie make frequent references to video games. But this isn’t a dorky Ready Player One situation. No, Scott Pilgrim is smart with its allusions, using them to enhance story beats and character interactions without bogging the narrative down with a constant stream of winking “remember this?” moments.
As such, turning the comic book series into a video game was a no-brainer. Ubisoft enlisted an incredible team of artists to transform Scott Pilgrim’s aesthetic into beautiful pixel graphics and development teams in Montreal and Chengdu to craft a solid beat ‘em up. Chiptune maestros Anamanaguchi were also enlisted to give the game a pumping soundtrack. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game launched on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in August 2010 to critical acclaim from fans of both the Scott Pilgrim franchise and old-school brawlers like Double Dragon and Final Fight. It was delisted from both platforms in December 2014.
Kotaku spoke to two Scott Pilgrim developers as well as Anamanaguchi frontman Peter Berkman about the game, all of whom were in favour of the game returning in some fashion.
“I’d love to see Scott Pilgrim re-released, but I have no idea if it’s ever gonna happen,” Scott Pilgrim designer Jonathan Lavigne, who co-founded Panzer Paladin developer Tribute Games in 2011, told Kotaku. “We made some efforts to get the ball rolling back in 2016 but it went nowhere. We had Bryan Lee O’Malley and Oni Press on board, but ultimately, it’s entirely up to Ubisoft and Universal.”
Lavigne was also open to the idea of Tribute Games contributing to any future re-release or remaster, as the studio is made up of many of the original Scott Pilgrim developers. They could even fix a few of the lingering bugs, he said. But Lavigne also urged folks not to get their hopes up due to the complexities of the licence and the inherent work that would have to go into bringing the game to current or next-generation consoles.
Scott Pilgrim animator Jonathan “Persona” Kim echoed many of these sentiments, pointing out that Ubisoft and Universal were likely candidates for why the game is being held up. Ubisoft may have published Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, but licensing ultimately falls to Universal, which holds the rights for the movie adaptation the game was meant to promote. You can blame capitalism and the world’s adherence to draconian copyright policies, basically.
“We’d absolutely love to see the game re-released,” Anamanaguchi’s Peter Berkman told Kotaku, again indicating that Universal might be the party responsible for the game’s continued absence. “It was a labour of love for everybody involved — the artists, designers, even producers — and of course us. The ten-year anniversary, with the unbelievable response from fans, seems to have stoked things again. Now it seems it’s just in Ubisoft’s hands to deliver what so many people have been asking for! We hope they do it.”
Universal Pictures did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.
It’s easy to understand why both fans and the folks behind Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game want to see it come back. It’s also obvious why Ubisoft and Universal might not see the financial benefit of re-releasing it. At some point we’re going to have to ask ourselves if this atmosphere — wherein the folks who actually made the game wholeheartedly want to see their work made public but suits at two large corporations hold all the cards — is conducive to artistic expression, not to mention simple enjoyment of video games as a medium.