Review by QXZ
"Don't go on down to South Park don't go have yourself a time; Angered faces everywhere, humble gamers get corrupted..."
Born in the early 1990's, Comedy Central, where the low-budget Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (which has recently ended its run on the Sci-Fi Channel) called home, along with old Abbott & Costello films. Although it never had much in the way of popular programming, save for the British-based hit show, the hilarious Whose Line Is It, Anyway?, the station started small.
As time progressed, Comedy Central started receiving increased popularity over the years. Come 1997, Comedy Central's hit the big-time. Shows as the Daily Show (started in '96) and the uproariously fun Win Ben Stein's Money, this once-lowly station unexpectedly exploded into the cable TV world. Even though these show's are belong in the station's annals as the station's first crack into the lime light, there is one show that made Comedy Central a household term. That show was South Park, a low-budget, crappy-animation-fest that really pushed the censorship envelope with third-grade children that not only swear like sailors, but die gruesome deaths and even use sexual references.
For those who don't know my real opinions about the show, I'll explain. When I had seen the first advertisement for the show, I hated it. Rather, I was expecting it to be crap. Watching the show has never changed my opinion to the point of it being the next Simpsons. To be fair, the show did offer some rather clever reparté that even made me laugh, and some of the jokes-- moreso those satirical in nature-- to be entertaining. Most of the other jokes just worked like a well-oiled recycling machine. Is seeing the same kid die in every episode really necessary?
The first South Park video game made available to the gaming public is more of the same story.
The story begins with an asteroid heading towards the Rocky Mountain town of South Park, Colorado. After crashing, a lot of slightly less than normal things happen within town limits. Well, normal for the show. And, as hard as it is to believe, only four foul-mouthed 3rd-graders-- whose names Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh, and eternal Lazarus Man Kenny McCormick-- have the ability to save the town. As ludicrous as the story already is, it's of the norm for avid fans of the show; Those who aren't might find the story... well... even more ludicrous than it already is.
The game's story, like the show's writing (and animation quality), is not worth dignifying as art haute. From the 2D paper-cut-out town of South Park into a 3D world, the quality is startling! Not content with having flat, Doom-like 2D characters who peak at twenty frames per character, the cast is modelled in 3D. What's more, the characters actually walking instead of looking like popsicle-stick puppets that bob up and down in the show. Ironically, the same does not go for the environments: Unimpressive landscaping, simplistic mountains, and plain, square buildings. (Although the game does capture the interior design of Chef's house well-- to the sitar music, to the pix of nekkid babes.)
But that's hardly what made the show popular. The main draw to the show (to the dismay of many) was hearing the 3rd-grade cast, well-educated in more ways than one, say F- and S-words in spades, albeit bleeped out. That said, the game's audio is perhaps one the most defiant of the N64's cartridge space. Fans will definitely not be disappointed. South Park's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone provide their vulgar, outhouse-licking voices. Isaac Hayes' Chef is a smooth black operator as he is on the show. There is so much here, the fact that they're all crystal-clear without presence of fuzziness to the naked ear, it's a slap in the face. As such, the game is chock full of humorous banter.
Putting this 3D game's nice character design, extremely vulgar language aside, and other technical triumphs aside, that was all that proves food about this game. South Park is really nothing more than a mediocre Doom clone.
One strike against the game are blamed on the levels. Scarce decorations leaves success as little more than following the arrows and killing one form of enemy. The show's fans will easily recognize what little variety in enemies, such as mutated turkeys gone medieval, Braveheart style, moronic clones who repeatedly scream ''duh-d'oy-duhr'', and others not required to mention. This list of simple-minded, single-unit enemies continue, but never once become interesting.
The next foul-up is that the game heavily ramps up the difficulty after each episode. When a new episode starts, you are given a set of enemies that have a higher tolerance to pain before dying. This would not have been so bad, if not for the fact that all weapons gained in the prior episode are gone, leaving our zeroes with mere snowballs. Where the first level has one-hit-wonders of turkeys, the second level's clones are extremely difficult with the snowballs.
What really pisses me off? Chef. He knows damn well what's happening, but why is he so insistent for a marathon shagfest instead of actually trying to help our zeroes? And, besides, what would be a good Shaft reference I could use? (If that question survives filtering, I'll be surprised.)
South Park also has control schemes that are surely mucked up. Your aim is anything but pinpoint using the ''Brown-Eye'' scheme (preferred), and then there's the blasphemous Turok scheme... need I say more?
Then, there is the multiplayer. The good news: Quips fly all around. The bad news: Everything else. Despite the number available, the levels are all poor in design, leading to massive ''duh-d'oy-duhr'' sydrome, and are all to easy to get lost in. Even worse is the characters themselves lead to a major imbalance of power. In cases of Cartman vs. Chef, Cartman would easily win because Chef's a towering oaf, while Eric is plump, yet incredibly short.
So, what can best describe the game is that the only actual draw to this game is that we get to see Nintendo drop their ''family-friendly'' stature. You know the rest of that story, I hope. Flagrant use of F-words, S-words, and even relations to X-rated items-- typical South Park terminology-- are abundant, so you know right then that kids should keep clear of this game entirely....
...As well as everyone else. Only die-hard fans of the TV-MA-rated show would, in their wrong mind, be willing to put down hard money to purchase this game, only because the name South Park's been slapped on it. Others, like me, will grow weary of the game's antics after only one hour-- if that long. As this game proves, vulgarity and four-letter words galore alone can't make a game (but can help), but it's all the better that this show has never popped out into the public eye all that well. (Then again, what other game on the market allows use of snowballs inundated with the fresh scent of pee?)
Parental notice: If you haven't read this review in full, shame on you! South Park for the N64 contains vulgar language, use of excrement, and even unnecessary gore. Hey, the show ain't rated TV-MA for nothin'! The game is not much different.
MY SCORE: 5.5
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 03/25/01, Updated 10/26/01
Got Your Own Opinion?
Submit a review and let your voice be heard.