I am a tremendous fan of South Park. I’ve watched it since I was in fifth grade, sneaking episodes in on the basement TV whenever I could, and watching along side my mom when I got a little older, and the show itself got a little tamer. Actually, I don’t think South Park ever got tamer so much as I and the rest of Comedy Central’s viewer base just became desensitized to things like seeing fecal matter on television. They did give Sarah Silverman her own sitcom, after all. BA-ZING!
South Park is a long-lasting TV series with a ridiculous amount of memorable moments, songs, characters, and at this point, it even has eras. It’s also released a really good movie, a christmas album… And a generous handful of some of the worst video games ever.
South Park for the Nintendo64 was basically Turok with South Park characters. And the Turok franchise was one that somehow managed to get worse with every new game. Seriously, just when they fixed issues with the old game, new issues popped up. I’m genuinely amazed I even bothered with Turok 3 after how disappointed I was in Turok and Turok 2.
South Park Rally wasn’t any better. A racing game with South Park characters sounds pretty sweet… Right up until you hear how it’s played. I forget who developed South Park Rally, but they were clearly trying to reinvent the wheel when it came to racing games. For fuck sakes, guys, just have them do three laps, and whoever finishes first wins! But no, we have to have a trophy that needs to be carried throughout the entire race. As memory serves, you could finish last, and still end up winning the race because you’re the one holding on to the trophy at the end. Inversely, you could finish first, and still lose the fucking race because the guy in second or further back has the trophy. And apparently, we couldn’t have traditional god damn racing tracks, either. Okay, I get that simple circle and square shapes are boring. I don’t mind a whole lot of twists and turns, but when the entire fucking town is the track, and I have to drive to specific points that are indicated to me during the mayor’s tutorial, we’ve got a problem. The multiplayer was probably the only thing even remotely fun in South Park Rally, and even then, I never had anybody around who wanted to play until well after the Nintendo64 was rendered obsolete.
There’s other South Park games out there, but I haven’t played those. However, I’m assured by reliable sources that they’re just as bad.
So yeah, long story short, South Park has had a serious history with bad games. So when I saw that they were releasing yet another South Park Game for PS3 and Xbox, I was skeptical. Apparently, one of the studios who worked on this game was also involved with Alpha Protocol, and just in case you’re new here, I ended up despising that game after a while as well.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is the first official South Park RPG. I’m assuming it picks up immediately after South Park’s “Song of Ass and Fire” Black Friday parody thing, what with the fact we see Princess Kenny and all. It’s probably because I’m a George R. R. Martin fan, or maybe it’s because I don’t have the patience for three-parters like I used to. I’ve kind of found that aside from Mysterion VS Cthulhu, South Park’s three-parted episodes are kind of a chore to sit through. And the Black Friday thing was honestly no exception to the rule.
But suppose you don’t care. Suppose you find out South Park is trying their hand at making an RPG, and you can’t help but think that nothing but good things will come from this. Yeah, prepare to be disappointed.
I’ll give the game credit where credit is do: it looks and feels like an episode of South Park. Rather than go the 3D route the shit games for the N64 went, the developers of this game decided to replicate the classic paper cutout style that is South Park’s trademark. Add on the fact everyone from the series reprises their roles as their respective characters, and everything is golden as far as presentation goes.
I probably should’ve stated this in the beginning, but I’m not especially huge on RPGs. I did like the Shadow Hearts franchise back in the day… Or rather, I liked the first one, and never got around to playing the other two despite really wanting to, but I liked it. I’ve attempted some other RPGs, and have had a varying rate of enjoyment. I’m really more of a fighting game kind of guy, or a beat-em-up game kind of guy, or hell, even a puzzle game kind of guy as long as the puzzle isn’t ridiculously absurd to the point of needing a fucking calculus degree.
In South Park: The Stick of Truth, you can create your own South Park character, and subject him to an adventure they’ll never forget along side Cartman, Butters, Kenny, and other delightful characters. You can even name your character, but get used to everyone calling you Douchebag. Assuming we were operating under Japanese rules, I decided to make my character as effeminate and idiotic looking as possible. Because as every Final Fantasy game since 10 has taught me, the girliest, stupiddest, and most annoying character ends up being the hero of the story. Not entirely sure why, other than Japan is fucking confusing, but whatever.
The combat system in South Park: The Stick of Truth reminds me a lot of Paper Mario. Unfortunately, it’s not without its problems. The biggest one being that you have to keep attacking, even after the opponent has been beaten during your turn, or else it doesn’t count.
The thing I really found annoying about the game, though, was the attempts at puzzle solving elements. Which basically degenerates into shoot everything in the background until something happens for me. It’s because of this that I have to follow a walkthrough word for word if I want to get anywhere in this game. I do enjoy an occasional puzzle every now and then, but if I need to have my laptop open and with a walkthrough present every time I get to a new portion of the game, then I’m not having fun. Yeah, I’ve needed walkthroughs in the past, but not nearly as much as I’ve needed them for this one.
The controls for the fart magic are also a real pain in the ass. Seriously, farting shouldn’t be this hard. In real life as well as in video games. When Boogerman has the superior fart controls, you may want to reconsider your design. Then again, the fact you even have fart controls in the first place is probably something to meditate on.
And of course, there’s the menus. I don’t mind the ones that let me equip my character with things, but that’s the only one. I got to hold down L1 and R1 respectively to switch between types of farts and companion actions, I have menus to swop companions, I have menus for other things… I even have a menu that shows me what all the characters are posting to Facebook! And much like the real life Facebook, I don’t see a practical use for any of this. Of course I say that, knowing full well my book series has a fan page there.
Do things really need to be this tedious? My fart abilities seem to be mapped to my right analogue stick, so how about I just move the analogue stick a certain direction to perform this type of fart? The only thing keeping me from recommending removing Facebook is the fact it does have something to do with a side quest, but still…
Overall, it’s about twenty steps forward from the N64 days, but still manages to go about three or four steps back afterward. I suppose you could’ve done a lot worse, but I find this game to be more of a headache than anything else. Plus in this day and age, if I really want to see an RPG’s story without dealing with the gameplay, I can just look up some dude’s Let’s Play on Youtube.