South Park The Stick of Truth: Making a TV Show Playable

South Park is a show that is pretty hard to talk about. It’s a fun show that always gives me a good laugh. But given just how foul it is, and good fucking god that shit is foul, it’s kind of hard to sit down and talk about the series. Especially given that any review would just be, “Yeah, that shit was gross, but it was kinda funny.”

Luckily, there are not one, but two South Park video games to talk about. Which should be much easier to discuss.

You play as the New Kid, your own created kid coming to South Park for the first time. Shortly after your arrival, you’re wrapped up in a game of fantasy war between the boys, with Cartman and Kenny on one side and Kyle and Stan on the other. But as you might be able to predict, everything soon takes a turn for the bizarre and deadly as a zombie infection creeps into the town, along with aliens and a few other things.

This whole game is essentially one big playable season of South Park. Which means you get all the disgusting shit you can expect from that show. From turning small and fighting monsters beneath your parents, who are having sex, to performing an abortion on a man and fighting a giant mutant fetus, this game is just as disgusting, it’s humor just as black, as the show it’s based on. If you like that, this game is a great time. But if you hate South Park the show for that, you’ll hate South Park the game for it.

Shocking, I know.

If you are a fan, though, this game is a delight. Not just because you get to be cussed out by all the characters and have a boss fight with Mr. Mackey. But because of all the subtle references sprinkled throughout the world. This game turns South Park into a massive playground in which you can re-experience many of the show’s finest (and foulest) moments.

Hell, even looking at the game is fanservice. The whole game looks exactly like the show itself! From the paper cut-out character designs to their simple bobbing movements to even the environments of the town itself. The transition from show to game is perfectly smooth.

But the question is: is the game itself good? Yes. Well, mostly.

At its core, Stick of Truth is a very simple turn-based RPG. You can go into battle with your character and one companion, one of the many characters of South Park, to take on aliens, zombies, FBI agents, and all other manner of bizarre enemies. Each character has a limited selection of moves; choose one, then mash the button or match the timing to maximize damage.

Think Paper Mario. Which is fitting, given South Park’s art style.

This combat system is fun… at first. But after a few hours of play, it can start to get old. Luckily, the game isn’t especially long, so it won’t ever become completely intolerable. Still, you can only fart on a dude so many times before you start to get tired of it.

Gameplay in the overworld is pretty underwhelming. Most of the puzzles you’ll be solving are pretty simple, boiling down to using the same ability/item you got three hours ago over and over again. Rare is the puzzle that actually requires you to think beyond just shooting a bow or using your butt probe.

The fun of the game boils down to how wacky some of the stuff you can do is. You can straight-up summon Jesus to attack your enemies! There’s a side quest where you deal with the Satan-summoning animals. While the core gameplay is very repetitive, the things you do throughout are never the same. Every set piece of this game is a fresh bout of insanity.

South Park: The Stick of Truth isn’t the most impressive game out there. Hell, it isn’t even the best licensed game. It’s basically just a season of the show, but you play it instead of watching it. That’s a lot of fun for a South Park fan, or even a newcomer who is getting into the series through the game. But if you’re neither one, this game has nothing for you.

Not unless you like really simple and repetitive turn-based RPGs. Which I do. I’m the guy that defends Final Fantasy 1, remember?

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