Tag Archives: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Charlie Murder is pure punk rock punching and kicking

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Charlie Murder is one of the two free games given out last month on the Xbox 360 for Gold members, and I nearly forgot all about it, ending up downloading it on its last available day, a few hours shy of midnight. Whew. Thankfully, it’s a small game, somewhere under 400 MB, and so it didn’t take very long to go from Microsoft’s server to my hard-drive. Skip ahead a few more days, and I actually got to play a wee bit of it, enough to put some thoughts in my head, which I’m now sharing with y’all.

Let’s see. Charlie Murder from Ska Studios is…well, I don’t really know what’s happening story-wise at the moment. The game begins with our titular character in Hell, but only briefly; see, a paramedic is actually resuscitating Charlie, though I’m not sure that’s a good idea. Seems like the streets are now overrun with denizens of Hell because the end times are upon us. Three cheers for that. Now back on his feet, Charlie and his friends (if you have friends to play with, that is) must fight off this stirred evil. There’s also some story stuff about Charlie’s band, which I’m only just beginning to glimpse, though I imagine it is either going to be of the “rise to fame” or “fall from grace” ilk. We’ll have to wait and see on that for now, and I’m definitely more interested in that than anything else.

Charlie Murder‘s a brawler, a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up, which, to be honest, is not a genre that really excites. Sure, over the years I’ve had some decent fun with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, Streets of Rage, Shank, X-MEN Arcade, and so on. Heck, I’ll even openly admit right here, right now, that I put many hours into the demo of Fighting Force because, in 1997, I just couldn’t stop hitting men with broken bottles. But for the most part, walking left to right and beating up generic goon after goon with fists or a range of weapon types until you can move on wears out its welcome real fast with me. Especially the part where you repeatedly mash the X button. Alas, that gameplay style seems to still exist here in Charlie Murder, but at least the game has personality, as well as some RPG elements to freshen tactics up.

There’s just one problem–I can’t read any of the text in this game save for the colored button prompts for quick time events. It’s tiny and scribbly, and yes, I’m wearing glasses and even sitting pretty close to my television. See, a big part of the game is using your smartphone, checking in on a Twitter-like app to see who is messaging you and how many followers you’ve gained, as well as reviewing your inventory, buying skills, and selecting which special powers to assign to what buttons. Y’know, key elements to make Charlie stronger and more unique, and I’ve ended up going on guesswork alone, hoping that this shirt is better than the other one based on some iffy color cues. Like, I know this is a bad image to begin with, but this is more or less what is like to be me and see the game and its text as I’m playing. Insert a grumpy face emote here.

So, that’s a bummer. Thankfully, the game has style out the wazoo, and you wouldn’t be wrong for immediately thinking of Jhonen Vasquez’s Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics and Invader Zim series. Muted colors save for greens and purples and dark, quirky humor work pretty well here, especially that one part where Charlie had to rough up a man in a hamburger costume at a fast-food joint. You can change how your character looks with clothing and tattoos, which is always a plus in my book, seeing your actual equipped attire reflected on the person, and it seems like there’s plenty to spend on, though money does not come fast or free, which might mean grinding, and now all I’m doing is frowning.

But yeah, this indie brawler is nice to look at and listen to, I just worry that playing by myself, especially unable to read most of the stats on weapons and gear, is not going to be a lot of fun. You can join up with other people online, which I tried once and got immediately booted, so there’s that option, but I don’t suspect I’ll be back to stop this punk-rock apocalypse from happening any time soon unless I magically receive two more Xbox 360 controllers and three new ready-to-go friends. It’s competent, but conventional, and I’m sorry if that hurts to hear, Mr. Murder and friends.

Pushing a button until your fingers fall off is Ayla’s idea of a fun time

Initially, I liked Chrono Trigger‘s Ayla. She’s got one helluva introduction, dropping in all Tarzan-like and beating up a bunch of wicked dinosaurian creatures. And she likes to party. Party hard, that is. Especially when soup is at hand. I mean, I love brontosaurus cock-a-leekie just as much as the next guy, but she really takes the meal to heart. More on that in a moment.

Upon arriving in 65,000,000 BC, you’ll be attacked by the aforementioned beasts. They aren’t too tough, not surprisingly weak to lightning, which is the greatest tip one could heed during their time in the prehistoric days. After Crono and gang get their collective butts saved, Ayla will take them back to Ioka village to speak to the chief and…well, party. Evidently, Ayla knows where this Dreamstone thingy is, but to get that information out of her, Crono must first beat her in a soup-guzzling contest. And that all boils down to doing one action perfectly and repeatedly: pushing a button.

I hate pushing a button repeatedly in rapid succession.

Usually, the first attempt is a failure, as it’s not clear just how fast the button needs to be pressed. To beat Ayla, seems like…pretty fast. That girl can guzzle. I failed my first three attempts to out-guzzle her, and by then, my hands were cramping. One has to remember that I’m playing Chrono Trigger on a Nintendo 3DS, so I’m not just mashing a controller, but an entire system. Had to be careful not to break it. For my fourth try, I rested the 3DS in my lap, turned it sideways, and used my pointer finger to hit the button again and again and again. That did it, but still required a lot of effect, and my hand was already tired at that point. All for soup and a Dreamstone and to wake up the next morning with a soupy hangover to find that all of Crono’s stuff was stolen. Greaaaaat.

Let’s look at some other games that have featured this tormenting gameplay element and their lasting impression on me. Yes, let’s:

Metal Gear Solid

The button-mashing sequence in Metal Gear Solid is one you can fail and continue on with the story. However, there’s a great consequence for failing. Snake gets captured by Liquid Snake and is strapped into a machine that can shock the living skin off him. Ocelet wants some answers, and if Snake doesn’t give them, Meryl will die. But if he speaks and gives in, then all will be fine–so to speak. When being tortured, your options are to press the circle button repeatedly to recover strength or press select to submit to Ocelet’s demands. You will be tortured for a limited period of time, and you must press circle nonstop to survive the torture sequence. You have to live through four intervals, and then you have to take a break to ice your fingers.

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game

Actually, I didn’t mind the button-mashing in SPVTWTG because it actually felt rightly implemented. Sometimes a group of enemies will suddenly dogpile Scott or Kim (like you’d play as anyone other than them), and to break free you have to mash the attack button with a fury that one sparks when one needs air and just can’t reach it. Same goes for when you want to kick off a super hit combo, mashing X again and again until you are flashing and somewhere in the the high 60s. Still, after a few of these encounters, your thumb does get sore.

God of War

Hydras can only be defeated by button-mashing. It’s true. Look it up. Actually, not even your thumbs are strong enough to pierce their heads on ship-made pikes; I remember having to wedge my PS2 controller against my leg and use a combo of other fingers to get the speed I needed for Kratos to do some killing. There’s also some button-mashing for larger enemies, not just bosses, plus when the going gets rough you’re always rolling around and swinging those chains like a madman. It’s enough to break one’s hand.

There used to be turbo controllers for the PlayStation 1/PlayStation 2 that could help players get around button-mashing sequences–basically cheat–but those days are gone. Or maybe they aren’t. I don’t know. I’m not big on buying more controllers than I ultimately need, and the stock that comes with the version is generally sufficient. I am just waiting for the day when this mechanic goes away or stays where it belongs, in social games like Mario Party 17, where it’s a race to fill up a balloon with air or something, and to do that you gotta be the fastest at pushing a button.

Games Completed in 2011, #7 – Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game

I grew up on a decent diet of beat-em-up titles, such as Streets of Rage 3, Double Dragon, and Battletoads in Battlemaniacs. This genre was perfect for me at the time, a boy not very interested in reading or learning about stats, as well as a kid often mooching off friends’ systems on the weekends, and brawlers like such were made for two players. Beat-em-ups are as simple as their namesake, and all I knew was that there were some bad guys that needed beating up and mashing the buttons often worked well. Good enough for me, and–many, many years later–good enough for Scott Pilgrim.

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game is, besides a mouthful, a downloadable 2D side-scrolling brawler. It’s based way more on the book series that inspired the movie than the movie itself, which is a golden surprise to many, I’m sure. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series is brimming with videogame tropes and nods, even more that Edgar Wright could fit into the theatrical release, and a good number of these references make their way into the game. And what a game it is. First, we have sprites and animations done by the legendary Paul Robertson; second, we have a bouncy, chiptastic soundtrack from Anamanaguchi; and third, we have a strangely fun mix of River City Ransom and The Simpsons Arcade Game.

SPVTWTG is also extremely difficult. I think that should be evident from the fact that I downloaded this around the time the movie dropped (early Fall 2010), and only got around to finishing off Gideon last week…on the EASIEST difficulty. The game starts out really hard, gets easier once you’ve gotten some EXP and food to go, and then gets hard in a cruel way for the final boss battle. Some of the designs in here are pretty retro, like having to start an entire level over again if you lose all your lives. It’s not enjoyable, but it makes sense.

SPVTWTG, like many brawlers, features co-op play. This is good and bad, and I’m speaking from experience here, as playing with a second character does not necessarily make things easier. Why? Well, Scott can punch Kim or accidentally pick her up or have to constantly reanimate her fallen body. It can be a distraction, and yet it can also be a blessing, but the majority of time the two characters end up hurting each other more than helping. We can also blame the lackluster d-pad on the Xbox 360 controller, which doesn’t make manuevering like sailing on butter. Because of this, the final boss level became extra frustrating, and I eventually had to tackle it solo (sorry, Tara!) after I had leveled Scott up as far as he could go and discovered the secret code for the Sword of Love.

I still don’t understand or love the RPG elements here. Gut Points and Heart Points and shopping for EXP instead of getting it from kicking evil henchmen’s asses. It’s a little odd, and sadly encourages grinding for coins. Thankfully, the punching and kicking and throwing and hyper combos are a lot of fun, and the enemy designs extremely varied. I personally loved all the crazy robots in the Techno Base level, even if I was sick of fighting them at that point.

So, I’ve beaten this once, with Scott. Supposedly, if you complete the game with the remaining characters (Kim, Ramona, Steven) you’ll unlock Nega-Scott as a striker. Don’t know if that’s enough incentive for me to try again, especially considering how long it took me to do this one time. We’ll see…

Inching closer to Ramona’s final evil ex

Twins are cool. That’s just a fact.

And over the weekend, Tara and I took down two of ’em, at the same time, thus earning ourselves the following Achievement from Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game:


Twin Dragons (10G): Defeated the Twins simultaneously.

To be honest, it happened too fast and too easily. I mean, we had so much trouble staying alive against Todd and Roxie; I figured the Twins were gonna be a handful of ass-whoopin’, but no. I got both of them cornered up in the top left part of the screen and slashed away with a stolen ninja sword while Tara took care of any nearby goons. Within seconds, one of the Twins was flashing yellow, an indication of his low health, and then boom–KO!!! Both dead. Both within milliseconds of each other. I really thought killing two bosses at the exact same time would’ve been tougher than that, but it was almost mindless how it went down.

Here’s hoping NegaScott or Gideon toss up a better challenge. Granted, there’s no Achievements tied to them so all Tara and I need to worry about is staying alive. I’ve hit the level cap with Scott, but she’s still climbing the experience ladder with Kim. I have to wonder if maybe I was a bit overpowered for the Twins? I doubt that though because just the level’s regular enemies put up one stink of a fight. Hmm. Can’t wait for the DLC and patch to help balance out the difficulty issues. Still need to get online access though…

Knives Chau DLC announced for Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game

I’ve still not gotten past Roxie in Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game, but the makers of said title care very little for my insufficient gaming skills as new DLC has just been announced for the game. For about $1.99, the new DLC will give us a new character to play as–Knives Chau, 17 years old, Chinese–and two new modes to experience: Dodge Ball and Battle Royale. The former is more or less what you think it is, and the latter is more akin to a Super Smash Bros style gameplay. This DLC should supposedly coincide with the film’s November 2010 release on DVD, which I’m totally buying Day One.

More Scott Pilgrim goodness for a measly two bucks? Count me in.

Also, there’s going to be a patch released soon to help fix the difficulty level of “Average Joe” as well as knock out some annoying bugs found throughout. The first time SPVTWTG froze on me I thought it was the devs having a laugh at how old games like that would crash all the time. The third and fourth time it froze, I was no longer smiling. So this is a must-need-now sort of thingy. I really like bitesize DLC and free patches, all in all.

Want some early screenshots? Click below…

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More like The Clash at DEADhead, right?

With Tara’s help, Scott Pilgrim and Kim Pine took down The Clash at Demonhead in Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game, a pretty tough level just for the amount of enemy goons it throws at you. I can’t believe I even tried going at it solo; only got as far as the one-against-two fight of Scott versus Envy Adams and that drummer with the robotic arm. Immediately after that, it’s an extremely tough fight as extreme vegan Todd Ingram tosses us around in a back alley like ragdolls. Not even the Vegan Police could stop him…though they tried.

We lost all our lives in this level, and we definitely landed the final blow as we were down to a tiny bit of health. That sort of felt frakkin’ fantastic, that did. The co-op in this game is actually quite great; you can reanimate fallen allies, you can perform co-op attacks, and you can even pick each other up Simpsons arcade style and use as a weapon. It’s bizarre and funny, but sometimes you might just need a Kim to throw, so there you go. Afterwards, we went shopping, and then tried to take on the next level, which was full of NINJAS. Needless to say, we got our butts whipped, but we’re jonesing to try again. Just gotta get Scott and Kim some awesome food to go.

I think Tara’s first experience so far with Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game was good. She said she kept getting distracted by all the people in the background, but she learned many of Kim’s moves fast and got good at knowing how to attack and when to reanimate. I tried explaining to her the RPG elements here, but even I didn’t fully understand it. “Uh, you buy food, and that’s how you gain XP. But you don’t know what each food item does until after you buy it. And even then, it’s hard to tell what kind of difference it makes.” Yeah…something like that. She did remark that she loved how it both looked and felt like an old-school game.

Maybe we’ll play some more tonight? I hope so. Roxie needs to go DOWN!

Moving, the game of heavy boxes and staircases

No, this post is not about the PlayStation Move, but it is about moving. Cause that’s the reason I didn’t play any videogames yesterday. That’s right. Not a single one. Didn’t even end up busting out the Nintendo DS before the Sandman came to take me away. Oh wait…I did play the game of not having a heart attack after repeatedly climbing two sets of stairs with heavy boxes as Tara and I moved into our first apartment. I totally beat that game. Cause…I’m typing this post, see?

Anyways, we only brought over miscellaneous stuff at the moment. It’s going to be a piece-by-piece sort of move, as I still have my own studio and she’s still living at home with her folks until we get married. Which, amazingly, is happening one month from today. One…month. ONE MONTH. Trying not to freak out here. Deep breaths.

Want to see some more shots of our new, mostly empty pad? Check out Tara’s Flickr account then.

I’ll get back to videogame-related blathering soon, I promise. Visiting my folks for the weekend, which means packing up the Xbox 360. Tara hasn’t gotten to play Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game yet, and I now need help beating The Clash at Demonhead level. I’m even gonna be nice and let her play as Kim, as Scott’s move list has actually grown on me. I had to grind with him for a bit just to get past Lucas Lee on “Average Joe” difficulty. Tis a hard game. But if I can beat the no heart attack game, I can conquer this one for sure.