The South Park franchise needs to realize just how lucky it is. Traditionally, as all gamers know, licensed titles have a 99.99% chance of being horrible, steaming dreck (Superman 64 is still the yardstick by which all crap is measured). Fellow cartoon powerhouses like The Simpsons have failed miserably to make the transition from show to game.
This isn’t to say that South Park hasn’t had its share of stinkers too. In the old PS1 FPS South Park, you threw pee-soaked snowballs at giant mutant turkeys to kill them. In South Park Rally, you threw a prostitute with herpes at your opponents like a projectile. Despite USPs like those, the series’ games were universally quite poor in the PS1/N64 era.
Today, though, South Park’s star has risen higher than most in the video game world. In 2014, Obsidian Entertainment and Ubisoft released The Stick of Truth, a super funny, super faithful RPG that managed to capture fans’ hearts. Its anticipated sequel, The Fractured But Whole, is set to hit in October. Until then, though, E3 2017 has introduced us to a new title, South Park: Phone Destroyer.
Yesterday, Ubisoft/South Park Digital Studios dropped the world premiere of this mobile real-time combat game. It’s the show’s first foray into the mobile arena, and it looks fantastic.
As with The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, the player reprises their role as New Kid. Once again, you’re in the middle of a turf war between the children of the town, who are role playing (Dungeons and Dragons style) as different fantasy classes. Knights, Choirboys, Clerics, Princesses, Bards… they’re all here. The setup is that the kids are playing a simple game of cowboys and Indians, but some of the players decided to branch out. Still, it does wonders for gameplay variety.
Whichever role you pick (and there’s one that can transform into a monstrous werewolf, as the reveal trailer shows), your goal is simple: to help your team crush your foes. Having only seen this brief glimpse of the game, we don’t know yet how it will play, but the whole thing looks very similar to the battles of the popular Ubi RPGs.
Early signs are great. Phone Destroyer looks big, brash, super-sweary and very South Park. This has been the key to the games’ success in recent years, doing justice to the source material. Let’s hope that their bandwagon-hop over to mobile platforms is as well received.
Phone Destroyer won’t be as involved as the recent console RPGs, but it’s got the potential to be a brilliant arcade affair. Let’s hope that Ubisoft don’t squander it.