Friday, June 09, 2006


Nintendo Realism

As I've pointed out repeatedly, I'm something of a late adopter. So while the rest of the world has been raving about Scott Pilgrim for several years, I waited until this last week to check it out.

I don't know what's wrong with me, honestly. It's not as though I wasn't familiar with artist Bryan Lee O'Malley's work. I'd had his Radiomaru site linked for years, and I'd really enjoyed his Lost at Sea OGN, but for some reason when the first volume of Scott Pilgrim was release I gave it a miss. I can only think it all stems from the fact that I was dropped on my head as a child.

In a review of the first volume, Pete Mortensen described it as "Nintendo Realism." His reasoning also acts as a handy synopsis:

"The world the characters inhabit is largely normal, except that everyone has a handy stat-sheet which determines their capabilities. Perhaps most insightful in this shortcut is its reflection of life, where the "statistics" of a human being can determine their livelihood, success in relationships and ability to participate in certain activities. The device is outlandish but also in some ways painfully honest. Rather than compose an angst-fueled slacker epic, O'Malley stepped outside of existing genres to create a celebration of people just getting by, reveling in minor achievement. Scott is, in the strictest sense, a video game hero. His friends are not competitors, they're supplemental characters who might offer advice which help him to overcome the dangers of new enemies and challenges."
I was reminded in reading the three volumes of some of Paul Pope's wackier stories, which share a similar kinetic energy and use of text sidebars and character stats, but since both are heavily influenced by manga I suppose it shouldn't come as any surprise. (And, now that I come to google it, O'Malley appears to have acknowledged Pope as an influence in interviews, but while there are tonal similarities, their artistic styles are so disimilar that I never would have expected Pope to have been a direct influence.)

There was a vibe similar to that I found in Kung Fu Hustle, which is never a bad thing. And how can you go wrong with a world in which, after our hero defeats one of his new girlfriend's "evil ex-boyfriends," the vanquished foe disappears, leaving behind a pile of coins? Oh, and sometimes Scott ends up with an "extra life" as well (though he didn't manage to hit that save point before Envy made the scene, did he?), which is sure to come in handy.

It took me a while before I tried the series; just didn't seem to appeal directly to me. I was completely unprepared for how much I loved it.
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