If I magically just gained the ability to time travel, like right now, there are three things I would accomplish without a second thought!
1. Get last week Jonny to buy more toilet paper
2. Gently smother 1983's George Lucas whilst whispering 'this is for the best'
And 3. Reassure childhood me that one day, in the far off distant future of 2014, there will be a good South Park game! ...Nay, not great, an amazing one!
South Park: The Stick of Truth is the South Park game us MTV generation kids have been waiting for! Sure we had to grin and bear it through the crappy 90's FPS and rally tie ins but now we finally have what I can only describe as a playable episode... like, a 16 hour, awesome episode... that's also an RPG!
To walk in the room and look at it, you would swear you were watching the show, which is by no means a negative criticism, that is rad! The good folks over at Obsidian have taken the time to capture that wonderful crappiness that the shows visuals have always sported, this combined with the original voice cast of... three people gives you the most authentic South Park experience you'll ever have in a game.
In true South Park fashion, the narrative is all kinds of crazy! What starts off as a simple, imaginary kids game revolving around Grand Wizard Cartman and Elf King Kyle fighting over a piece of driftwood, escalates into alien attacks, the dead rising from their graves and good ol' fashioned government conspiracy!
You start the game like any other RPG, by creating your character, where you are spoilt for choices on customization (as long as you didn't want to be a girl). I have to say, I had more fun with this than I probably should have (don't roll your eye, you will too!) It reminded me of doing it as kids on the 2.0 build of their website but now that character had a reason! A purpose! To get me a magic stick!
It wasn't long before my mensch of a Jew mage was out on the streets of South Park, exploring for collectables like Chinpokomon and interacting with the locals. No joke, I spent hours doing this... HOURS! I wanted to hear what everyone had to say because it was straight up hilarious! There was never a dull moment and this even carried over into the battles.
Sure, it's like regular turn based RPG combat but it plays very similar to the way Super Mario RPG did and if you're not one of the four people that got that reference, here's what I mean.
Instead of just picking your attacks, like say Pokémon, you have to hit a specific button at the right time to do more damage or string together combos. This also goes for blocking, where a well-timed button tap can avoid you hurling the controller at the screen!
This mechanic combined with the buff / debuff system they have in place makes for a more involved style of gameplay, that requires tactics and timing instead of occasionally just pushing a button. (Yeah, I'm looking at you Final Fantasy!)
But really the best part is when Man-Bear-Pig...
And the underpants gnomes...
With Mr Hanky riding the...
Sorry, was that a bit annoying? Well, you've had a taste of what it's like to play the Australian cut of the game. And you thought we were gonna get through this without talking about the censorship!
Sure, you can say "Jonny, the cut material was rude and offensive" upon which I will look at you quizzically and utter "Have you seen South Park?" A show notoriously known for pushing social boundaries and norms, which often strangely ends up addressing social issues in a humorous and relatable way!
But that begs the question, if the cut content was so grossly insensitive how in the world did the other stuff get in? Racist slurs – apparently all good, perpetuation of negative stereotypes - just fine, Jesus, beating in the head of a zombie, Nazi foetus with a dildo –a okay! The word of day here kids is hypocrisy. All of this stuff, cut content included, is rated M when broadcast as a show but as soon as it's interactive BAM! No go! Again, just another prime example of how flawed our new R18+ rating still proves to be.
But despite that minor upset, South Park: The Stick of Truth is hands down one of the most fun and hilarious games I've played in recent years. The combat's easy to grasp, yet deep enough to keep your interest and the wonderful pacing means you never need to grind. As a piece of fan service it delivers on every front and even those unfamiliar with this little mountain town will have a blast.
There's no way that if you buy this game you'll end up with... the short end of the stick. (...oh, c'mon! Sticks are hard to pun!)
Forged haphazardly from discount parts and blinded by the old world ideals of Sega fanboy-ism. Jonny Robot is half man, half machine and runs on the unstable fuel source of lukewarm coffee. He also owns an Atari Jaguar but can't justify why.... a burden he bears to this day.
Jimmy the Geek