Many top entertainment IPs eventually make the jump from their native medium to that of the video gaming universe, but few have spawned so many iterations as the animated comedy South Park. The releases have not always been excellent in terms of quality or originality, as you will soon see, however those that shined were excellent games, cult classics in their own right.
The first South Park video game was 1998’s aptly named ‘South Park’, released for Playstation, Windows and N64. A first person shooter where, playing as the series’ four main characters, Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman, players had to fight against a variety of enemies, all brought to the town as a result of an evil comet approaching the town. The N64 version was excellent; funny, engaging and well crafted; however reviewers hated the PC and PS versions, GameSpot calling the PS version one of the worst games they’d ever played!
In 1999, ‘South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack’ was released for N64, Dreamcast, PS and Windows and almost immediately was berated from all angles. The majority of the game was spent playing mini-games alongside answering questions about the series, however many mini-games were based upon already well known games (Galaga, Asteroids, Paperboy, Whac-A-Mole), and as such bad reviews followed. 1999 also saw the release of ‘South Park Rally’, a similarly terrible, poorly put together game that only took seven months to create!
Unsurprisingly designers Acclaim were met with terrible reviews and dire sales. It could be said these early South Park games were primarily released to take advantage of the hype surrounding the show in the late ‘90s; any quality control leaping out of the window; however the late noughties signalled a return to the original 1998 N64 title.
The blossoming online gaming scene has spawned a number of ‘Park themed titles; MrSmithCasino’s ‘South Park Reel Chaos’ and ‘South Park’ have injected new fun into the slots genre; and new releases for gaming consoles have been received very well.
In 2009 ‘South Park Let’s Go Tower Defence Play!’ was released for the Xbox Live Arcade. Cheap and cheerful, the game was very well received by the critical community, thanks to great levels of nostalgia, a fun story and a focus on multiplayer that was agreed is truly the forte of a South Park title. ‘South Park: The Stick of Truth’, released in 2014, has easily been the most well received game in the series’ history however, IGN magazine giving it a nine out of ten score. Praised as one of the most faithful video game adaptations ever released, truly capturing the rambunctious spirit of the series! Let’s hope the creators release more games of Stick of Truth’s ilk in the future.