Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, after years of being stranded on old consoles, was finally re-released last week. I’m eager to hop back in, but more than just playing through it one more time, I’ve been digging re-listening to the game’s perfect pop-rock soundtrack.
The tunes for Scott Pilgrim were made by pop-rock band Anamanaguchi. They’re not strangers to digital tunes; alongside their work on Scott Pilgrim, they’ve done songs with Hatsune Miku and played in Minecraft concerts. Their roots also stretch down to the pop-rock sound that dominated the early-aughts, and man, does it ever come through in Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game.
One of the more memorable tracks in the game is the first stage theme, “Another Winter.” It is chiptune-meets-rock perfection. The driving guitars and drums that start the song off, with call-and-response melodies and a surprisingly melancholic tune, don’t really make for a regular video game track. It sounds more like an already established pop-rock hit that was digitised, with the lyrics turned into blips and beeps instead of human vocals. It’s excellent.
Other tracks dive deeper into what you’d expect from a retro-infused beat ‘em up. “Maki Ya” sounds like it could fit in with a Double Dragon or Streets of Rage, though it still has Anamanaguchi’s own flair. There’s a lyricism to the melodies, like you can almost hear words being sung, that makes this soundtrack feel more like a concert than ambient noise. You’re busting heads and slamming dudes with Ramona’s hammer at the show.
“Another Winter” is really the song that captures all of this in one go, though. In a recent PlayStation blog, the band talked about its work on the soundtrack and how it feels about the songs, a decade after Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game first launched. Drummer Luke Silas pointed to “Another Winter” and the song “Just Like In The Movies,” which has a similar pop-rock anthem feel, as songs representative of the band’s work back then. “We’ve expanded a lot, but at that point I think most people considered us pretty splashy and fun like those levels,” Silas said.
Songwriter and guitarist Peter Berkman called attention to the tension of the 7th and 9th chords used in “Another Winter” as “stacks of complicated feelings,” something that’s all over Anamanaguchi’s music. There’s a yearning to the song underneath the otherwise upbeat tunes that reminds me of Saosin’s “Mookie’s Last Christmas” or Underoath’s “Reinventing Your Exit.”
It’s been a decade since I played Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, and I’m interested to see if any of the emotions I had about it back then still hold up now. We haven’t been lacking for solid new beat ‘em ups like River City Girls and Streets of Rage 4, so whether Scott can still fight with the best of ‘em is exciting to find out. But I’ve really just enjoyed immersing myself back in the nostalgic soundscape of this soundtrack. It’s the driving, melancholic tune that makes me want to walk through a park laden with snow and think about life stuff, you know?