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.
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.