The Top 5 Videogame References in ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’

I know that I’m not alone in saying this, but I loved ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.’ Forget whatever else you had planned to watch and check it out. It’s easily the best film I’ve seen this year without question. It helps, of course, that the movie is replete with videogame references.

While it should go without saying that a post about the contents of a movie will contain spoilers, consider this to be your official warning: There will be mild spoilers.

5.) Sex Bob-omb

The one thing I wish this movie had was more brilliantly named bands. “Sex Bob-omb” is the name of the titular character’s group and is one of the more blatant of all the game’s references. Most folks with knowledge of ‘Super Mario Bros.’ should pick it up right off the bat.

If you’ve played any ‘Mario’ game since the original, then you’ve probably had some experience with Bob-ombs. They’re those little walking bombs with big googley eyes, boots, and a questionable evolutionary mechanic. Seriously, how are creatures that explode shortly after making contact supposed to thrive?

4.) “Hey, I learned the bass line from Final Fantasy II”

Scott is, in the middle of band practice, faced with a complicated question. It’s one of those situations they make Twix commercials out of. Rather than grab for a candy bar, Scott whips out his bass and diverts the conversation with the bass line to the ‘Final Fantasy II’ battle theme.

Dropping the ‘Final Fantasy’ name is cool and all, but what makes this scene is that Scott actually does start playing the bass line from ‘Final Fantasy II’ – or ‘Final Fantasy IV’ if you want to get picky about the whole US/Japanese numbering system.

3.) Puckman

This is true. The beloved ‘Pac-Man’ was originally named Puckman, after the Japanese onomatopoeia “paku-paku.” It’s the sound made by the mouth opening and closing. You know, like “nom nom nom.” The problem is that even the laziest arcade cabinet vandal could figure out how to scrape off part of the “P,” leaving an F in its place. Rather than leave a bunch of “Fuckman” cabinets in arcades across the country, Midway changed the name to the vandal proof ‘Pac-Man.’

It’s a cool story, and it’s also Scott Pilgrim’s go-to when it’s time to impress the ladies. Seriously, he delves out arcade cabinet history to get the chicks. Hey, you’ve got to go with what you know, right?

2.) The Opening Trill

The 16-bit Universal logo is cool and all, as is the musical treatment of the theme. But it’s the harp trill that comes just afterwards that gave me goose bumps. ‘Scott Pilgrim’ uses the opening of ‘A Link to the Past,’ which is easily in my top five games of all time. Just ten seconds or so into the movie, I was completely and totally sold on it.

What makes that tiny musical clip so great is that it’s never explained, never elaborated upon, and not gotten by most of the folks in the theater. Gags like this really pay off for the people that get them, and they’re unnoticed by people that don’t. This is a fantastic way of just coming out and saying, “Hey Dick, this movie is for you.”

1.) Chaos Theater

All right, I know that I called out ‘Clash at Demonhead’ as the finest reference in the movie in comments last week, but I’m willing to admit that I was wrong. It’s only after some thought that I realize that the Chaos Theater mentioned and visited in the film is a wonderfully obscure reference to a fairly obscure game.

Right now, there’s an ‘Earthbound’ fan out there that’s reading this and is extremely disappointed in me. The Chaos Theater was a fairly influential set piece early in the game. If you never got a chance to play the strangest RPG ever to hit the SNES, you owe it to yourself to track it down and play it for all its glorious weirdness.

9 comments

  1. it was a joke. i haven’t seen the movie yet and he can enjoy any movie he likes. ben gets crap for saying i am legend is one of the greatest movies of all time and i was playing off that.

  2. JoeRo

    Wow I definitely didn’t catch the earthbound reference, but then again I’m only familiar with Ness from SSB so … no surprise I guess.

    I was really pleased with this movie and darn sad that it’s not doing well at the boxoffice. It’s definitely one of, if not the, best movies I’ve seen this year. Inception still has a hold on me so I’m hesitant to give Pilgrim the title, still Scott Pilgrim is easily the most fun I’ve had in the movie theater this year. And that has to count for something.

  3. Scott

    I have to agree…best movie of the year? Really? It was fun and all, but, it never really grabbed me. So far The Square, The Kids are All Right, and Inception have been my favorites.

    I guess this is safe to say since the article comes with a spoiler warning…but the part that bugged me the most was that no development at all was given to Ramona. Aside from looks, there’s no reason given for Scott to be attracted to her, let alone fight off all of those evil ex’s. Towards the beginning she’s even kind of a jerk to him! Scott Pilgrim himself was kind of a pathetic character as well, and he was also a huge ass. I know that at the end of the film he realizes this, but everyone’s way too quick to forgive and forget. Then he ends up with Ramona anyway? I came away with an ends justify the means feeling…like Scott went through all that crap for her so he better be with her!! …but why?

    • I haven’t seen the others, but I’ll gladly fight the ‘Inception’ vs ‘Pilgrim’ fight 🙂

      As far as the character development goes, I don’t disagree. But I don’t think there needed to be. It’s instant love/infatuation without all of the introductions and questions.

      ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ is like a fairytale, where the prince loves the princess because that’s how stories go. Prince Philip (I’m going with the Disney version) has absolutely no reason to rescue Sleeping Beauty. He’s got no reason to be in love with her – they only met for a minute. But he is, and he fights a dragon for her.

      • Scott

        I can see your point about Scott Pilgrim being a fairy tale, and I think that if this was the set up we were given then it could have worked very well. Except, we have Knives Chau…

        Honestly, I haven’t watched Sleeping Beauty since I was a very small kid, so don’t hold it against me if I completely am missing something 🙂 …but I don’t remember anyone aside from the princess who had any attachment to Prince Phillip. In any of those Disney princess movies, if someone is competing against the princess for the affection of the prince, or vice versa, the other person is usually evil. I never got that vibe from Knives. Maybe she was a bit clingy, but she liked Scott for who he was. Much different than the “if you sign my package I’ll hang out with you” Ramona. This just made me feel bad for Knives the whole movie. Like I said in my other post, I know this is brought up at the end of the movie, but I think that a preferred ending for me would have been Scott ending up with Knives and fighting off everyone making fun of him for it… or maybe Scott ends up with neither… or maybe Scott sees someone else who he is immediately attracted to even moreso than Ramona and he now has to fight her eight evil exes?

        It’s kind of crappy since I don’t want to say that the movie would have been better if Knives wasn’t there, her and Wallace were my favorite two characters, but it would make the fairy tale aspect a lot more meaningful.

      • Scott

        Oh…and check out The Square! It’s been getting a lot of comparisons to a Coen Bros-style Film Noir. A very entertaining movie! I think it comes out on Blu this week?

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