South Park. So many things come to mind when those two words are spoken. Some people get a feeling of anger, disgust. Others throw around the term ‘genius’ and ‘trend-setter’. No matter what side of the fence you are on when it comes to South Park, I think there is the general consensus when it comes to South Park and video games, they have come up short. They have given it another shot with the 2-D side scrolling platformer South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge
I’m not about to go into detail about what the title means. After all, if you’re a South Park fan, then you’re reading this review and know exactly what it means. Non South Park fans probably aren’t reading this and could care less. We can agree that Tenorman’s episode is without a doubt a time when South Park was at its peak and most relevant in the pop culture world. So I can’t fault the developers for wanting to maybe throw some life back into the South Park video game franchise, since the series itself has been on a downswing the past few seasons.
The game starts out promising enough. It’s been no secret that Trey and Matt are fans of the Xbox having put the console in a number of episodes. So why not make a game that revolves around the the Xbox itself and the feud between Cartman and Tenorman. No, you don’t have to find Tenorman’s parents for a chili cook-off. Rather, Tenorman has stolen Cartman’s Xbox hard drive and your mission is to get it back. If only for the sole reason being you don’t want to watch all the LA Noire cutscenes again. It’s comical and could almost be a South Park episode all itself. In fact this is where the game shines, in the presentation. It’s as close to looking like an actual South Park episode than any other game before it. Having the actual voice overs always helps and not holding back on the language makes this a true South Park title. Add in a futuristic looking level design and South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge has a fantastic look and feel. However, once the game begins there are a number of issues that hold back this game from being a stand out for the franchise.
South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge was meant to be played on a multiplayer level of up to four friends (that’s not hard to figure out is it?). We will get to that in a bit, but first let’s cover the game on a single player level. Having a game that was made for multiplayer then offering a single player experience while not changing up the gameplay to suit a single player is a major flaw in South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge. Whether you’re playing single player or multiplayer, you play the same levels and face the same foes.
At the start of the game you choose which classic South Park character you want to control (and I’m willing to bet we all pick Cartman). After that, you’re on your own. The game is difficult enough while playing with four players, so trying to get through it on your own is next to impossible, let alone boring. Not because of the gameplay, but because each character brings something new to the table. They all have different powers and abilities and not being able to switch between characters on the fly limits what you can do and even where you can go on any given level. It’s frustrating!
At certain points throughout the game, you can jump and transform yourself for a short period of time into your comic book alter ego. Cartman can become The Coon, Kenny becomes Mysterion and so on. However if you were to play as Stan and a Cartman transformation bubble is above you, you can’t switch to Cartman and become The Coon. That would be ok if not for the fact that you can’t advance on that level unless you become Cartman’s alter ego! When they designed levels specific to a certain character’s alter ego, and you’re not playing as that character, you’re out of luck. Not only do I wish you could switch characters whenever you choose because I want to move through a level, I just want to switch characters because I love the South Park characters and want to experience it with all of them! Did I mention that if you’re playing solo the only time you even see the other characters is during the cutscenes. So if you’re playing Cartman, you only see Cartman. At least give me a Tails to my Sonic.
So I don’t need to tell you that South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge is not to be played as single player. How about multiplayer you ask? Yes. As with most multiplayer games, it’s more fun with friends. If you can get four players then you’re playing how it was meant to be played. Get three and it’s passable. Two I would give it a shot but you probably will find yourself struggling with the same problems you encounter during the single player. Get four friends that enjoy multiplayer, platformers and South Park and you’re golden.
What the game gets right on top of presentation is fully encompassing the South Park world.The game is hilarious. From Cartman’s special ability to smash through walls with his belly, to Kyle using his “ginger” ability, a lot of thought went into what each kid does and says. If you’re a South Park fan you will be in South Park heaven when it comes to the jokes. If you’re a gaming fan you will be left with much to be desired. What’s more disheartening is Obisidian announcing they are laying off a good portion of their staff and with it some games they had planned. One being a South Park RPG that was in development. So this very well may be all we get in the South Park video game universe for a while.