Developer(s) – Iguana Entertainment & Appaloosa Interactive
Publisher(s) – Acclaim Studios
Designer(s) – Jeff Everett & Niell Glancy
Producer(s) – David Dienstbier
ESRB – M
Developed amidst the immense success the animated series garnished throughout the late 90s, the South Park video game followed many of the same principles as Iguana Entertainment’s successful first-person shooting title, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Unfortunately, however, the game received mixed to negative reviews upon release with critics remarking upon it as being decent in the way of merely license and graphics, and nothing more; something which I agree with for the most part, since I believe it offers hardly anything in the way of gameplay compared to the original Turok, as well as most other FPS games.
Graphics – 6.5/10
Conceptually, the game makes use of many of the different setting and concepts that had been perpetrated within the TV show at that time, and the developers did a fairly decent job of not only celebrating what source material there was, but also expanding upon it to a certain extent, with it taking place in a wide range of locations such as UFO’s the streets of South Park, forests, caves, factories, and toy stores. Problems arise on a graphical level, since whilst this game could be considered a precursor to the idea of incorporating cel-shaded visuals in games, it’s also heavily glitched.
Gameplay – 6.5/10
Though I do need to say as a prerequisite I spent a lot of time playing this game, and therefore won’t be giving it as harsh a review as many other critics have, I have since gained a better understanding of where many of them are coming from. For me, the biggest problem is that it seems too much like a step down from Turok, since where that game was much more open-ended, and players had the option to come and go as they pleased, this game is stage-based, and consequently follows a much more linear path than the former, marring down the overall experience. That being said, however, what there is in the way of gameplay also presents players with a pretty decent amount of variety. There are quite a few weapons to unlock, as well as a plethora of different characters from the series to play as in multiplayer mode.
Controls – 7/10
Since this game also incorporates the same control scheme as Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, I found myself having problems in this respect as well. Using the C-buttons on the Nintendo 64 controller to move is a lot more awkward than how future FPS games would be handled on the system, such as Perfect Dark, and therefore, controlling the game felt much more like a chore than an enjoyment.
Lifespan – 4/10
The South Park FPS also lasts around the same time as Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, which whilst it doesn’t make it seem as much of a downside as it does in the former, since Turok is more of an open-world game and therefore a longer lifespan would have possibly been expected, four to five hours still felt like a very underwhelming amount of time for a game to last; even back then. The average lifespan of a first-person shooter would go on to be increased as time went on, but there was no way this game would have been able to compete with the seemingly never-ending adventure games available on the console at that time.
Storyline – 6/10
The story of the time follows the exploits of the show’s four main characters, Kyle, Stan, Cartman, and Kenny, as they battle their way through a multitude of different enemies, such as cows, turkeys, aliens, robots, and toys, in order to save their hometown of South Park amidst the approach of a comet from outer space. As expected, it’s as outlandish as most plots of episodes of the series were at that time, but in my opinion, it just isn’t anywhere near as funny as the show was. The creators would most certainly put more effort into the later game based on the License, South Park: The Stick of Truth, but the comedy portrayed in this game is much more of a case of hit and miss.
Originality – 6/10
As well as every other problem I encountered with this title, there also isn’t much in the way of uniqueness either. Many of the weapons used in the game have a fair bit of imagination to them, such as the cow launcher, the alien device, dodge balls, and the Terrence and Philip dolls, again alluding to how much the developers chose to respect the source material, but in terms of basic gameplay structure, it is, for the most part, a watered-down version of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter.
In summation, whilst there is some entertainment value to be had in playing this game, South Park is largely an average gaming experience overall, and one that has trouble holding up to this day. The control scheme will just seem frustrating at best to anyone who picks it up now, and it has nowhere as much of a comedic element to it as the show did.