The appeal of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s expansive journey through all things satirical, weird, and downright disgusting, is so great that it was picked up for its debut video game appearance just over a year into its twenty-season run – on the family-friendly console, Nintendo 64, of all places.
Named after the eponymous series, Acclaim Entertainment’s 1999 effort was a first-person shooter that involved throwing snowballs at turkeys, dodgeballs at mutants; fending off cows dropped from UFOs, and collecting plungers and packets of Cheesy Poofs. All in all, it was a more sensible, straightforward affair than the TV show, and received mixed reviews from critics. The later PlayStation port was panned, however.
Acclaim published two further South Park titles – Chef’s Luv Shack, an exclusively multiplayer quiz game, and South Park Rally, a Mario Kart-style racer – in 1999, neither of which was particularly good. The franchise then disappeared from video gaming for the next ten years until 2009’s South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!, a surprisingly competent hybrid of the action and strategy genres and perhaps the first evidence to date that the series might avoid the tie-in hell that plagues video games based on other media.
One of the more unusual tangents South Park has explored in the past decade is casino; specifically, a 5-reel, 25-payline slot machine at 888casino. The game, which includes bonus features based on Kyle (kicking Ike onto prizes), Cartman (hunting hippies in bushes), and Kenny (trying not to die), has the same graphical style and sense of humor as the TV show. As an 888 game, it’s also playable on mobile phones or on the brand’s casino website.
While there was another, decidedly average, South Park game released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2012 – South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge – the series’ breakthrough on mainstream consoles and PC wouldn’t come until 2014’s South Park: The Stick of Truth, an RPG made by beloved developer Obsidian (Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity), and one that includes classic tropes like Nazi zombies, UFOs, the FBI, and a lost twig of tremendous power.
Mint Berry Crunch
Among all South Park games, The Stick of Truth and its upcoming sequel, South Park: The Fractured but Whole (TBA), are almost unique for having Stone and Parker on board throughout development. The pair distanced themselves from video gaming after 1999 following Acclaim’s troubles with the franchise: “We don’t want anyone making a South Park thing”, Parker said prior to the release of The Stick of Truth. “We have to do South Park ourselves, all the time.”
The Fractured but Whole, a game pencilled in for a 2017 release and under development by Ubisoft San Francisco, is a sequel to The Stick of Truth, albeit with a story based on the Cartman-led Coon and Friends, a group of DIY superheroes that includes TupperWear (Token), Human Kite (Kyle), Toolshed (Stan), and Mint Berry Crunch (Bradley). Whether Captain Hindsight will make a return is unknown, however.