Pilgrim Droppings

Once in a while, new games are created in the forges of old. When Megaman 9 was released as a downloadable game, it was indistinguishable in style from Megamen 1 through 8. It was, in essence, an NES game, and was lauded for its traditional graphics, music and controls. I never actually played it, but it looks great, and I’m in love with the idea of making new things using classic, seemingly forgotten methods. Nintendo gets it, and sees how much potential remains for side-scrolling Mario games. Konami still makes 2-D Castlevanias every couple of years, too, although I continually wish that they would make TMNT and Simpsons style arcade games again.

So it should be no surprise that when I saw the E3 trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, two very loud splats sounded in my underwear. The intentionally pixellated look of the game you may find to be pandering to video game players who have been playing for over 20 years, and yet if you say that “it looks like shit,” then you’re just being a lying asshole. You can see immediately the homage to River City Ransom, and recognize that the imitation is not a selfish one. The generous overhaul of colors and animation are phoenix yakitori for video games; burned, juicy, and then born again within you. That’s gross. But seriously, it was time for another River City Ransom. I fucking loved that game so much, I referenced it in a rap. The only question I had was “Who in the fuck is Scott Pilgrim?”

It wasn’t long before I was wading knee deep in hipster lore and hate trying to figure it all out. It was a comic about a slacker in a band with lots of video game references. It was slated to be a major motion picture starring that George Michael kid from Arrested Development. The video game, it would seem was only incidental to the major marketing machine built (most likely) around the movie, but if a movie is what it takes to get a game like Scott Pilgrim The Game to get made, then, please Hollywood – please continue to make shitty retarded movies based on comics and video games and other superior mediums of cultural fancy that you could never hope to out-cool.

When I finally got a hold of the demo of the game (realizing only very recently that I could hold a US account in addition to my Japanese account on Xbox Live), it was basically everything I expected. It’s definitely a game made for my crotchety new-shit-sucks-balls ass. There is no reason you have to see the movie or even read the comic, for that matter. I can see the popularity of the game outliving that of every other incarnation, because as much as I enjoyed reading that comic, I do not see myself reading it all the way through again, although I could pick this game up and play the shit out of it any time of day for the next 20 years. Especially if they ported it to the iPhone… Christ, I’d never get off the train.

The game is scored by the band Anamanaguchi, who has one of the most interesting setups for making music, which is programming an 8-bit musical piece onto an actual NES cartridge chip, hooking the NES up to an amp, and jamming along to the creation with guitars and drums. It sounds simplistic, but there is an energy there that outdoes all other “chip musicians” who as far as I can see just fruitily thrash about a mixing board with a Gameboy. Their sense of melody, arrangement, and 8-bit instrumentation is also commendable because they strike a frequency that resonates in the lush echo chamber of nostalgia as well as whatever it is that makes you look up and say, “Holy shit – this is really fucking good.” It’s like the revelation you get when you listen to Frank Zappa and at first you’re chuckling your balls off and then you realize that the man was a fucking brilliant composer above all else. I welcome them to this hall of honor – the few, the underappreciated, the composers of video game music. They will get nothing but their proper propers from me here, skinny jeans and all.

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