Can Obsidian make a South Park RPG work? Toby McCasker has all the details.
By Toby McCasker on July 30, 2012 at 3:19 pm
“South Park” and “an RPG” are two things that really don’t go together, like nuts and gum. It’s an appropriately stoned combination of wonky cutout mirth and niche gaming appeal that probably has no right to work, at all. But it does. It works because not only do Trey Parker and Matt Stone steam a consistently outrageous comedy ham, but because they are both massive nerds who, were it not for the fact they created South Park, would probably still not have touched a boob yet.
Their nerdiness is paramount in this instance, because if you’re going to put Cartman and co. in stat-rolling heaven, there’s no way you’re going to be able to do it seriously. It’ll either be a parody of the genre or a colossal /facedesk, and to parody the humble RPG takes the kind of familiarity with it and its frequently stupid-ass tropes that only legit dungeon masters will truly understand.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is merciless in this regard. It’s merciless, and it’s hysterical. Opening case in point: You are the new kid, and you must first create yourself in the presence of arch-fatass Cartman before he gives you your first quest, which is to amble down to City Wok and bring him back some deliciousness. Cleric, Mage, Fighter and Thief are the go, and for our demo it’s all about the Fighter. Next, thou must name thineselves.
Regardless of what you call yourself, Cartman will instead ordain your silent protagonist “Douchebag” forevermore. Right, awesome. Before we can brave the South Parkian wilds and prove our mettle by returning with buckets of calories for our rotund regent, Cartman’s makeshift “castle” comes under attack. Ho!
And where’s we freak out: The transition from cutscene to gameplay is seamless. No sooner has Douchebag left to save the day than did we not realise it was actually now game time. Things get even better when Douchebag runs afoul of his first battle – and the screen breaks to glorious turn-based combat ala old (read: good) Final Fantasy. It’s exactly like tonking baddies with Cloud’s crew, except you can now try for blocks and counters, and mash a button to get more out of some of your attacks. It’s just enough modernity.
Next, Douchebag’s on the trail with Cartman, the pair clumsily infiltrating the manor of some Douchey Vampires in a side-scrolling jaunt (the exploratory bits seem to alternate between this view and semi top-down. Ultra nostalg!). Unsurprisingly, they’re both soon set upon by a quartet of said vamps and it’s on again. It’s a longer battle with a little more to it, and the hysterical devils are totally in the details here. Cartman rarely ever shuts up throughout, periodically taking to hurling vulgar slurs at the opposition and vomiting all over himself when one of them returns fire with a literally poisonous barrage. The abrupt summoning of Mr. Slave in order swallow one of the cheeky fangers whole with his ass seals the deal: This is South Park the RPG. Obsidian have nailed it.
The only reservation to be had so far is that there was no overland stuff on show. Everything seemed incredibly scripted. Douchebag would sit through a hilarious hit of signature South Park before maybe wandering around somewhere for a couple of seconds, only for a clearly unavoidable fight to begin. It seems amazingly unlikely that this’ll be how the entire game rolls given Obsidian’s impressive RPG pedigree and love for getting lost. Plus, you can wear an epic wizard’s beard to crank up your spirit fingers. #winning