Video games and TV shows don't always mix - especially when such a show hones in on elementary school shenanigans and cheeky societal spoofs like South Park. And indeed, there have been a number of questionable efforts to translate this edgy adult cartoon into accessible games. This is especially the case when it comes to some of the earlier efforts.
A few more recent South Park games have provided some compelling gameplay, while capturing the comedic essence of the show, which balances witty spoofs with juvenile toilet humor. Modern-day graphics have allowed for cell-shaded graphics that make you feel as though you're playing an interactive episode of the show. At the same time, there still exists a recent smattering of poor efforts and cheap cash grabs.
So let's go on down to South Park and examine each game based on our favorite foul-mouthed 4th graders over the 2 decades of the cartoon's history. This list will sort through each of the 11 games in the franchise and provide a ranking from worst to best.
11 Chef's Luv Shack
Take a mediocre version of Mario Party and blend it with an even more bland trivia game, and you might have Chef's Luv Shack. The game was created during the show's infancy, being released in '99. This goes some way in explaining the crude and basic style of humor that's some distance from the more clever, nuanced comedy of modern-era South Park.
Still, the lack of comedy depth can be redeemed as long as the gameplay holds up. Unfortunately, this isn't really the case here. The gameshow questions contain a weird mix of basic South Park factoids and totally unrelated bits of trivia. The occasional minigames you get to play are mostly poor ripoffs of classic arcade games with their own cheeky South Park twist - like the Terrance and Philip-themed version of Asteroids.
10 South Park Rally
Considering we've got a mediocre Mario Party ripoff, it shouldn't be surprising that around a pale imitation of Mario Kart 64 was released too. The game somewhat feels like that classic series - except if it contained loose mechanics and clunky controls to the point of being a distraction.
It's a shame, because there are a few cool concepts in Rally, with a diversity of objectives each race to break things up. Yet most of these are ultimately glorified fetch quests that grow aggravating quick - collect 20 turkeys roaming the streets, gather candy, etc. You do have a few entertaining items at least, such as the Pink Eye and Weight Gain 4000.
9 Mega Millionaire
It's tough to knock a game too hard when it costs roughly the price of a McDonalds Hamburger. Still, quality is quality, and this iPhone South Park game, Mega Millionaire, isn't exactly brimming with it.
There is a certain charm in the simplicity of the "get from A to B." platforming, which is controlled by tilting your phone. The goal is to coast through a variety of obstacle courses which are supposed to be the setting of a crazy Japanese gameshow. The gameplay is about as watered down as you'd expect for a $2 mobile game. Though there are tinges of that zany South Park humor and some surprisingly decent graphics to boot.
8 South Park 10: The Game
As a 2007 release, South Park 10: The Game is more of a celebration of the show's (then) decade long run than a fully-fledged game. Yet, despite the comically simple gameplay and slim content, it does have some fun moments and amusing show references.
The game contains 10 levels, each of which adheres to different themes and plots of a particular episode. This includes a stage based off "Butters' Very Own Episode" where Butters must traverse a forest to get home, and a cheeky reference to "Smug Alert!" which Cartman has to save San Fransicso from smug clouds. The level design and mechanics feel charmingly retro - which makes sense given some assets were recycled from a never-released Game Boy Color game.
7 Tenorman's Revenge
You can file this one under the category of "disappointment" when it comes to South Park titles. Having played the enjoyable South Park: Let's Go Tower Defense! to death, my South Park loving friends and I were pleasantly surprised when we heard another co-op SP game was making its way to the Xbox Live Arcade. But about 10 minutes in, we caught on to the fact that this was merely a pretty average platformer with a South Park overlay, sprinkled with some cumbersome puzzles.
Fans of the episode which features one of Cartman's biggest foes, Scott Tenorman, or the "Go God Go" episode from which the theme is ripped, might want to give it a look. Though the weird sci-fi theme gets a bit old and feels more like some bizarre science fiction-y indie game rather than a South Park experience.
6 South Park (PS/N64)
The mid '90s saw the height of the 3D obsession, which has since been dialed back somewhat. It was at such a high level, that even the cell-shaded construction paper visuals of South Park were disregarded to make way for crude polygonal 3D in this game.
Still, despite some less-than-solid mechanics, bland level design, and dumb jokes, the actual gameplay of South Park for Playstation and N64 can be amusing. The campaign of this 3D action-shooter feels like a cheap version of Goldeneye - only with killer turkeys and yellow snowballs rather than henchmen and lasers. The multiplayer - and its plethora of goofy weapons like the Alien Dancing Gizmo - make for some good times and plenty of laughs.
5 Phone Destroyer
Take the concept of card battles found in the likes of Hearthstone and infuse that with a battle system that comes across like a watered-down version of the South Park RPGs, and you'd have Phone Destroyer. The Ubisoft-published SP games have fast developed a pretty solid track record, and this mobile game is no exception.
The game contains a number of cool and hilarious cards that are fun to both collect and unleash in battle. The cell-shaded visuals, while not quite Fractured But Whole level, are on point. Being a card-based mobile game, there are obviously limitations, and the game leans a bit heavy on microtransactions that may leave a bad taste in the mouths of some. Overall though, this is a fun little South Park-themed PvP battler to opt for if you've already burned through the superior SP RPGs.
4 ZEN Pinball 2: South Park: Super-Sweet Pinball
Obviously, there's a fairly limited ceiling when it comes to any sort of pinball game. Though this wacky South Park-themed pinball romp is one of the better virtual pinball experiences in recent history.
The game looks sharp and contains a very intuitive, tactile feel despite existing only on your TV screen rather than as a tangible pinball machine. The environment is completely chock full of all sorts of detail, with amusing visuals and sound bites from the show. This abundance of "stuff" ensures actions being triggered just about everywhere you hit the pinball. And exactly how many pinball games can you say it's possible to play with poo balls?
3 Let's Go Tower Defense Play!
When it comes to the fairly limited Tower Defense genre, there are better, more elaborate options out there. But even though Let's Go Tower Defense contains some mind-numbingly simple button-mashing gameplay, it's also an enjoyable experience. It's especially fun teaming up with friends, and has online functionality to boot. With Let's Go, it's more the funny themes and neat designs that reside over the somewhat repetitive gameplay.
You've got all sorts of funny references for the foes you must ward off - from horse-riding Mongolians to Underpants Gnomes to Crab people. The environments draw from memorable show references - like the Great Wall of South Park - and the cutscenes contain that recognizable bonkers South Park hilarity. You also get an impressive lineup of characters and items for various situations; most of which prove fun to toy with in their own way.
2 The Fractured But Whole
The cleverly named Fractured But Whole is a sequel which SP creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker claimed to have been more comfortable producing with their gained experience. And yet, Stick of Truth is still the better game overall. Don't get us wrong - this follow-up is still great in its own way. Now if you only mixed best elements from each of these games, you'd have one heck of a South Park RPG.
The superhero themes set the stage for an enjoyable narrative and fun character designs with tons of cool moves and abilities. Fractured pummels you with even more insane scenarios than its predecessor, though the excitement and pacing tend to run out of steam a bit by the end. The more dynamic battle system offers literal and figurative depth, but can be a bit much. Overall though, Fractured is more of the same Obsidian-made awesomeness, with a presentation and depraved sense of humor that's true to the character of the show.
1 The Stick Of Truth
On the one hand, The Stick of Truth may feel a bit more simplified than Fractured. For many South Park fans, though, his fantasy-themed RPG offers the most enduring gameplay, with plenty of rapid-fire shock laughs to boot. The combat is more to-the-point without feeling dull, and there are a wealth of fun (and funny) collectibles. The enemies, which range from Nazi zombies to mooing Aliens, are particularly chuckle-worthy.
The scenarios and diversity of environments make for an enthralling experience from start to finish. The references are out of control, and range from self-aware gaming spoofs to Game of Thrones. There's even a neat nod to retro gaming sensibilities with the hilarious Canada portion of the game. This game truly feels like you're journeying with Carman, Stan, and the rest of the gang in a playable episode of South Park.