Published on April 12th, 2012 | by Cameron Woolsey
South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge Review
Developer: Other Ocean Interactive
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: March 30, 2012
MSRP: 800 MSP ($10)
When “South Park” hit its popularity peak, developers tried to make video games about it. But, like with most games based on animated sitcoms, they were all terrible. The first game, simply titled South Park, was released in 1998. It was a first-person shooter with Quake influences. Its biggest draw was being able to throw snowballs soaked in pee at mutant turkeys. Somehow the developers managed to screw up something that awesome.
Lately, however, we have seen a new era of “South Park” video games as downloadable titles. The first was a tower defense game, and the most recent release, South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, on the other hand, tackles the platforming genre.
Tenorman’s Revenge brings an old enemy back into the light. Scott Tenorman, first introduced in the South Park episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die” back in 2001, has resurfaced with vengeance in mind. For the boys of South Park he has done the unthinkable: he has stolen the hard drive out of their Xbox 360.
From this dark act, Tenorman leads the boys on a chase through time while fighting off waves of his soulless ginger robots (see what they did there?) and visiting many of the show’s familiar scenes including the town of South Park and its sewer, Peru, Pi Pi’s Splashtown waterpark, Heaven, and, of course, Hell.
The game itself carries the same art style and fans of the show will no doubt love the game’s animation, or lack thereof, as it mimics the show perfectly. During cut-scenes when the camera zooms in, it looks exactly like an episode of the show; typical crude humor and potty jokes all make the translation.
Even with the close similarities the scenarios are unbearably tame in comparison to the show. Fans that play a game based on “South Park” no doubt expect to watch as the boy’s grief on Cartman or maybe laugh at some racy jokes in tune with the show’s typical shock value comedy routine which is commonly aimed at pop culture and celebrities. You will get very little of that, really.
Cartman will make fun of Kenny’s poverty and the game will throw around some cameo appearances such as Towelie, Mr. Hanky and the science worshiping beavers, but those are just there to trick gamers into thinking the game is actually channeling the show by reminding them of why they enjoy “South Park” to begin with. The story itself is a mess and is easily forgettable. Ultimately when you take away watered down “South Park” theme, all that’s left is a basic platformer, and a pretty terrible one at that.
The game uses an awkward physics engine that causes the characters to float a little in the air. With multiple players on screen the camera zooms out to the point where it becomes difficult to distinguish objects in the game. It can become so difficult to hop from platform to platform that I often asked myself why I should even bother.
At times the jump button didn’t even register that I pressed it, allowing my character to either clumsily drop off an edge or run stupidly into an enemy. And forget about making any progress if the game starts to lag online, which it does more frequently than I would have liked. Later levels feature instant death obstacles that easily turn a difficult game into an impossible one thanks to the combination of the in-orbit camera angles, broken controls and lag.
To progress to the next level players must collect a certain amount of Time Cores. Each level contains around 10 of them, and most are hidden out of sight. To find them, players must utilize each character’s unique abilities and cover every room of each level. All four playable characters, Cartman, Kenny, Stan and Kyle, each have a special move.
Cartman can knock down brittle walls with a belly bounce, Kyle can use his Daywalker ability (by flashing his Ginger hair) to pass through force fields, Stan throws a football that can activate switches, and Kenny jumps high. If you play by yourself then expect to return to each map multiple times in order to find the Cores, which quickly becomes tedious. Or, players can start up a co-op match either locally or online and work together to hunt down Cores. So unless you plan on running with three others at all times, expect to replay a level again and again.
At certain segments of the game the characters can transform into their “super” counterparts. Cartman becomes The Coon, Kyle turns into The Human Kite, Stan into Toolshed, and Kenny, Mysterion. Each super version grants abilities to further explore the level and discover more Time Cores. However, each challenge can become ridiculous, forcing players to dodge spinning razor blades and dripping slime (yes, this is a thing to avoid) in order to get that precious Core.
Over time it became difficult for me to continue to start the game up. Being forced to replay missions just to continue the game is piss poor game design that serves to anger players more than convince them to go back and do it again for the second, third or fourth time. And when the levels themselves aren’t fun enough to enjoy the first time through, don’t expect them to magically get better with a different character. In fact, they usually get worse, as only two of the four characters are worth shit in a fight.
At first, the ginger robots are easy to dispatch by either hopping on their heads or by destroying them with a baseball bat, crowbar, or any of the other weapons. Later on, however, the robots defend themselves with red spikes on their heads and unless you have a melee weapon in hand, they are impossible to kill unless you are either Cartman, who can use his belly bounce to knock them over, or Stan, whose football can do the same. Players who go in as Kyle or Kenny without the other two to back them up are out of luck. I learned the hard way as I tried leaping from platform to platform dodging dripping sludge, lasers, only to fall and land on a group of five robots that…well, I think you’re getting the hint by now. It sucks, and so does Tenorman’s Revenge.
Over the years I’ve been convinced that it isn’t possible to make a good game based on “South Park.” I don’t really see that as unique to the franchise, but developers really find it hard to make any game based on an animated sitcom not suck, something proven with games based on both “The Simpsons” and “Futurama.”
I had hoped that Tenorman’s Revenge could prove otherwise, instead it only stands as further proof. The game is riddled with control issues and networking problems, and doesn’t embody the spirit of the show; the jokes are too few and often lame.
My only hope now lies with Obsidian Entertainment’s take on a South Park game. Let’s hope the third time will be the charm. Otherwise we may finally see the end of any effort to make “South Park” games. However that may not be something to mourn, especially if South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge is the result.
[xrr label=”Rating: 3/10″ rating=3/10]
+ Near perfect artistic translation from the show
– Bad controls
– Poor level design
– Tedious gameplay
– Latency issues