South Park first debuted on television when I was in the 7th grade, and I’ve already written about how the first website I’ve ever built was a South Park fansite so you can imagine my anticipation of finally being able to play through the latest South Park video game.
I was an immediate fan of the show and remain so to do this day. Sure, there are more misses than hits in recent years, but there are still gems produced every season.
My first experience with a South Park video game came courtesy the 1998 eponymous title, which was released just a few short years after the show’s premiere that was essentially a polygon-infused first-person shooter. Players walked around the town, throwing snowballs and firing weapons at turkeys that squealed whenever they died.
In 1999, South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack, a collection of themed mini-games, was released, followed by South Park Rally, a Mario Kart knock-off that dropped in 2000 and is arguably the best game from the early years.
Despite the fact these games were all very different, the first few South Park video games were universally terrible. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Here’s what Matt Stone had to say back in 2001 about the early trio of video games developed by now-defunct Acclaim:
We currently don’t have a game developer. Acclaim did such a good job of fucking up the games that now no one is really that interested in the liscence [sic]. I will say this … Trey and I had little to nothing to do with the first games, and if we do another video game it will be R-rated. We wanted to do that in the first place but everyone said it was impossible. Now everyone is doing adult-themed games.
A pair of XBox Live Arcade exclusive titles, South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! and South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, were later released. Nothing as ambitious as South Park: The Stick of Truth, however, has been put out by South Park Studios.
I was stoked when I first heard about the South Park game back in 2012. The early previews built anticipation of an immersive experience where the player and character were actually a part of the TV show.
After finally playing through South Park: The Stick of Truth, it’s clear that the creators fulfilled that original goal. South Park: The Stick of Truth is violent, vulgar but more than often side-splittingly hilarious. What other universe would feature a boss battle between the protagonist and Khloe Kardashian’s Nazi zombie aborted fetus?
There are throwbacks to classic RPG games (see below) and other video games from yesteryear. The constant references to the show’s past are everywhere, making the game as much of a nostalgia trip as a new experience.
That’s not to say the game is without fault. Quite the opposite. And its fault is a big one.
The biggest issue with South Park: The Stick of Truth is the short featured story arc. It should not take 10 hours to beat a game that took three years to make. Sure, there are plenty of side quests and mini-missions that add more to the gameplay experience, but it’s not enough to satisfy the itch to continue gameplay once the featured story ends.
There has been a call for a trilogy of games, all in the same vein as South Park: The Stick of Truth. I love this idea, obviously, and would play every one of the games. I just hope we don’t have to wait three more years for the next installment.