Comic books often spawn great video game tie-ins or spin-offs, whereas video game spin-off or tie-ins of films usually suck. So the decision to base the Scott Pilgrim video game on the graphic novels rather than the film was a wise one. The game uses the art style of the graphic novels and has a lot of references to old school video games; also the gameplay is a nice throwback to classic beat 'em ups, making for a satisfying downloadable game to coincide with the highly entertaining film. If Ubisoft had managed to screw up a video game based on Scott Pilgrim, a franchise well known for its video game references, there would probably be no hope for good quality games based on media franchises.
In the Scott Pilgrim vs The World film, the music was an important part of the production, with many of the bands songs being written and performed by the likes of Beck, Broken Social Scene and Cornelius. As well as all this, an 8-bit version of Jerry Goldsmith's famous Universal Studios theme can be heard, as can some music from The Legend of Zelda series. Rather than try to compete with all of that, Ubisoft instead hired chiptune punk rock band Anamanaguchi to compose and perform the soundtrack, and the result is an extremely satisfying and unique soundtrack that captures the spirit of the game perfectly. There are also some nice throwbacks to the musical styles of some retro classics.
One thing that may be off putting to some people about this soundtrack is that most of the tracks are under two minutes long, but for a soundtrack of this nature, it works. This is because the entire soundtrack is a throwback to classic video games, and therefore none of these tracks need to develop into fully developed pieces of music; instead they rely on simple, catchy melodies and cool riffs to get the listener in a suitable mood to play the game and in my opinion Anamanaguchi have succeeded brilliantly in achieving this. There are also some pop and rock music influences too, with a bit of electronic dance music thrown in for good measure, giving the soundtrack a unique sound and feel to it.
The "Scott Pilgrim Anthem" wastes no time whatsoever in throwing the listener straight into what the game and the soundtrack is all about — upbeat, catchy tunes that get the adrenaline pumping and the mind in the mood to kick some butt. The blend of heavy rock and chiptune sounds works brilliantly throughout the soundtrack, neither one overpowering the other. This is demonstrated in "Another Winter" which has a lot of harmonic and counter melodic chiptune sounds as well as melodic ones, intersynching well with the heavy distorted guitar and also when the accompaniment dies down.
There are other styles explored as well, mainly in the realms of dance music. For example, "Maki Ya" sounds like a dance version of International Karate's music, while "Cheap Shop" is an entertaining tribute/parody of typical shopping centre themes — it even has elements of, dare I say it, elevator music. "Bollywood" features low resolution percussive sounds that successfully manage to sound like Indian percussion instruments, and I also really like the synth-like accompaniment in the quieter middle section here. "Rock Club" appropriately sounds like an 8-bit rave — fast paced with a pulsating beat — while "Rox 300" is very techno oriented. "Party Stronger" is more quirky, which provides a nice contrast, and has some super cool bass lines.
There are several nods and tributes to video games of the past in this soundtrack, such as "Skate or Live" which is an awesome tribute to Skate or Die, replicating the metal vibe of said game's music. "TechnoMan" is a nice tribute to the Mega Man series, a fast paced piece focusing on the chiptune sounds with some understated rock accompaniment, while "Twin Dragons" sounds like a blend between Ninja Gaiden and Double Dragon. "Subboss Theme" is a fast paced track designed to get the adrenaline going; it almost mocks the game as if to say "You know this boss is easy, enjoy destroying it."
Some of the music gets surprisingly intense. For example, "Gideon Wrath" gets suitably dark in part 2, while "Giant Contraband Robot" takes the tempo down a notch, and creates an intense feel with heavy bass and an off beat drum rhythm. "The Dark One" takes this further sounding downright dirty in places, though this is broken up with a seemingly random bleepey interlude. Finally I can't leave this review behind without mentioning "This is the End" which sounds remarkably similar to Queen's "We are the Champions". I think it was intended as a tribute to the song, and it's a great way to end the soundtrack. You can just imagine Scott walking off into the distance with Ramona Flowers while listening to this, a suitable reward having defeated her seven evil exes.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game's soundtrack is absolutely awesome; it's entertaining, well written and really catchy. It suits the game right down to the ground and is easily one of if not the best modern chiptune soundtrack out there. There are some fantastic cheeky nods to some old classics as well as some very catchy original material. Anamanaguchi didn't want to try and compete with the film's soundtrack but, in my opinion, they've bettered it.