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Scott Pilgrim is a series of six graphic novels written by Bryan Lee O’Malley. These graphic novels were later adapted into the 2010 live-action, romantic comedy movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, sharing the same name as the second graphic novel. A couple months after the film hit theaters, a video game adaptation called Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game was released on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network digital download systems. The plot centers on the romantic relationship between Scott Pilgrim and the mysterious Ramona Flowers. It is soon revealed that Ramona’s ex-lovers have formed an organization devoted to controlling her love life called the League of Evil Exes, and Scott must defeat each of her evil exes in a fashion similar to the traditional video game boss fight in order to score the girl of his dreams.

The entire franchise has attracted a cult following, particularly from the young adults that grew up in the late '80s and early '90s that view that period of time with fondness and nostalgia. Particularly notable are the various nods to video gaming culture, from a band being named after an obscure NES game, Clash at Demonhead, to sounds from the all-time classic game Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past playing at various points in the movie, to the evil exes exploding into loose change upon their defeat, a staple of many different video games.

Scott Pilgrim The Book vs. Scott Pilgrim The Movie

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is, for the most part, a very faithful adaptation of the six graphic novels written by O’Malley. However, because the mediums telling the story are so different, there are a lot of notable tropes worth studying as examples of the adaptation process. One of the most telling differences between the novels and the films is the amount of time the plot takes to unfold.

For the graphic novels, the struggle between Scott and the League of Evil Exes is a yearlong endeavor to the point where Scott actually celebrates a birthday in Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe. In the film, the entire plot takes place in a few weeks. When you consider George Bluestone’s argument about the passing of chronological time, this change really makes sense. The first novel, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life was released in August of 2004, while the last novel Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour was released in July of 2010. Having the characters age throughout the story is a lot more natural when you consider the difference in time between the first and last novels, and the amount of time it takes to read them. Compare this to the movie which is always a two hour endeavor, having the plot resolved in a few weeks also seems a lot more natural than cramming a year’s worth of time in a couple of hours.

The film does pay tribute to its graphic novel roots in many aspects. One key aspect of the plot of the Scott Pilgrim series is that Scott plays in a band called Sex Bob-Omb. When they play a song in the movie, you have lightning bolts and speed lines coming out of the instruments, similar to how a comic book, graphic novel, or other soundless mediums would visualize loud music coming out of an instrument. Sound effects are also sometimes visualized, such as a punch causing the word “POW!” to appear on the screen. This could be compared to the old Batman show starring Adam West, which like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, is an adaptation of an almost identical medium.

The color of Ramona's hair is another aspect of her character that is expressed differently from the graphic novels to movie to video game. The only time we can actually see her hair color in the graphic novel is on the cover art, as the graphic novel is presented in black and white. This could be used as a metaphor for the mystery surrounding her character. In the film, her hair is three different colors, a unique color for Act I, Act II, and Act III. In the video game, every character has multiple costumes available, so you can actually choose which color hair she has as you play.

One of the more subtle allusions to the graphic novel that can be observed is the eyes of the characters, particularly Ramona’s. The art style of the characters of the graphic novels has very large eyes compared to the rest of their heads. The film actually seems to emulate that in some fashion, as can be seen by the following picture comparing Ramona’s comic and live-action counterparts, as well as a normal shot of the real-life actor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

The video game adaption of Scott Pilgrim is reminiscent of two different genres of old-school video games. It plays much like an arcade beat-em-up similar to X-Men: The Arcade Game or The Simpsons, and it also contains a leveling system with experience, reminiscent of RPGs such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. You can play as four different characters, Scott, Ramona, Stephen Stills, and Kim Pine, each having their own little differences and animations. The game’s graphics are essentially what the novel would look like if it was colored and played on a 16-bit console, and the music is reminiscent to something out of the Mega Man series.

The game is a much more loose adaptation of the story found in the novels and film. In fact, the plot itself is nearly missing in action, which itself could be a throwback to games of the 80s and early 90s where the plot was often little more than something like, “The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President.” However, it is safe to assume that anybody playing this game has either read the novels or watched the film, possibly both, so the game itself would work best as a companion piece to the originals, rather than a straight retelling of the story.

However, the game does have cut scenes and multiple endings that work with the film and novels to enhance characterizations. For example, if you beat the game with Scott, the ending reveals that he goes on to date three women at the same time, contrary to the lessons he learns at the end of the movie. However, NegaScott, the dark representation of Scott’s past sins and mistakes, is presented a little bit differently than he is in the other two mediums. In the novels, Scott merges with NegaScott and in the film, he surprisingly befriends his own dark side with seconds. Both times it is presented as a metaphor for him conquering his past and learning from his mistakes. In the game, he is fought and defeated in the same fashion as Scott’s evil exes. Therefore, you could make the argument that Scott never learns his lesson and goes on to become a heartless womanizer like he was in the main story. In this respect, the game works with the movie and film to enhance the all around story.