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South Park: The Stick of Truth – Xbox 360

South Park: The Stick of Truth – Xbox 360

Make no mistake, this is an M Rated game

Make no mistake, this is an M Rated game

Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment, South Park Digital Studios
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: RPG
Nerd Rating: 8.5/10
Reviewed by: InfiniteKnife

When South Park first came on TV in 1997, I was 12 years old, and surely part of the main demographic Trey Parker and Matt Stone were going for at the time with the shock value of 8 year olds yelling, farting, and cursing at each other. We hadn’t seen an animated show hit us like this before. Kids loved it; parents hated it. You know how that whole thing goes.

Sure, I enjoyed South Park as a kid, but as the show has continued into its 17th season, what I have come to love it for over the years is the clever way Parker and Stone provide social satire and manage to keep it funny. It was a genius move, as the world news provides endless fodder for them to pick from.

As fans of the show know, the kids are crude and foul-mouthed, but also play games that elementary school kids would play, like adventure/fantasy role-playing. We see this throughout episodes of the show, and as soon as I heard the first announcement of The Stick of Truth in 2011, I couldn’t help but think “what a great idea for an RPG!” The game was delayed a few times, but in the end, was worth the wait.

After the character creation, the game begins with the player, known as the “New Kid” unpacking with his parents after moving to South Park. He doesn’t speak, like many RPGs, and it is referenced throughout the adventure. When the game begins, your first quest is to go outside and make new friends, and upon exiting the house, you meet Butters, a favorite among many fans of the show. He brings a message that the Grand Wizard wishes to speak with you and to come with him to Kupa Keep, where the humans make their base.

The Kingdom of Kupa Keep, or the KKK. Subtle.

The Kingdom of Kupa Keep, or the KKK. Subtle.

Kupa Keep is Eric Cartman’s backyard, decorated as a kingdom, complete with a castle, shop, training ground, and stables. I’d like to point out that the touches made to the clearly kid-made fantasy area really took me back to when I was a kid and helped me remember how much fun it was to use my imagination and do live action role playing, as many kids do. As the game progresses, the creative ways weapons and items are made and named brings a lot of laughs, too. As one might expect, household items comprise most of the weapons and armor. It adds a charm that lingers through the whole game, and I really appreciated it.

Cartman introduces himself and helps you get set up in typical RPG fashion with your name (had a chuckle at this) and your character class, of which your choices are Fighter, Mage, Thief, and Jew, each having their own set of special moves that can be leveled up with the player. One can’t help but laugh that there was a class in the game called Jew, but fans of the series won’t be surprised.

I'm sure many chose Jew just because.

I’m sure many chose Jew just because.

You’re told of the great struggle between the humans and elves, and that whomever controls the Stick of Truth, controls the universe. Without spoiling anything, crap hits the fan and you’re thrust into action, and the adventure truly begins.

The Stick of Truth has a pretty traditional turn-based combat system where each player takes their turn in combat, each being able to use one item and one attack each time. You can keep one partner to fight alongside you at any given time, and each of the available “buddies” are a different character class that have different skills including Butters/Paladin, Stan/Fighter, Cartman/Wizard, and Jimmy/Bard. Depending on which class you choose for your own character, you can mix and match until you find a combination that fits your individual play style. Each buddy also has a special ability that can be used outside combat in certain situations, but I don’t think this really adds much to the game. (Princess) Kenny’s ability, for example, involves showing her boobs to an enemy to get them to open a path that was previously blocked. It was funny, but I don’t think anything would have been taken away from the game had things like this been excluded.

You need to use your "magic" to pass parts like this.

You need to use your “magic” to pass parts like this.

All attacks use a timing system, similar to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars where each attack has an optimal time to press a button that releases the move’s full effectiveness and can also be used to reduce damage and effects from enemy moves. I personally love the timing based combat, and it fit well into the game. Physical attacks are the standard offense and are unlimited, whereas special abilities take up power points (PP) to use and it can be replenished with power potions and spells take up mana, which has its own set of potions. The abilities are great and do a great job of playing into not only the skills of the character but also their personality as we know it from the show. There are summons, similar to Final Fantasy VII, that can be unlocked that are pretty hilarious, as well.

Mr. Kim is one of the Summons after you help him take back the City Wok

Mr. Kim is one of the Summons after you help him take back the City Wok

Weapons and armor can also be adorned with add-ons that give them and/or the New Kid bonuses such as extra armor and damage. There are also elemental and status altering damage types such as fire, frost, grossed out (poison), and bleeding, depending on the weapon’s characteristics.

When I play RPGs, one of the things I really enjoy is exploration and trying to find all the unlockables, secrets, and Easter eggs. On that front, The Stick of Truth did a pretty good job. As the game progresses, you add Facebook friends by meeting different characters from the show, and it was nice to see so many different ones and to hear the funny dialogues they have. Reaching milestones in friend requests also allows unlocks of perks that help in battle. One thing I can say about this game is that fans who have watched the show from the beginning are going to see a TON of references from old episodes, some subtle, others, not as much. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions when I would find an item during my looting that actually made sense based on the location I found it, two examples being Alabama Man in Kenny’s room and Scuzzlebutt in Jimbo’s Guns.

Scuzzlebutt, complete with Patrick Duffy (not pictured) for a leg.

Scuzzlebutt, complete with Patrick Duffy (not pictured) for a leg.

Another fun collectible set were the Chinpokomon, which are hidden all throughout the world. Finding them all unlocks an achievement and garners you a friend request from the head of the corporation, who reminds you of the vast difference in your respective endowments. Finding the 30 Chinpokomon was a really funny part of the game for me because there were several I wasn’t aware existed and seeing the names along with what they looked like brought on a lot of laughs. I think this game did a good job of adding extra things to find without going overboard, as the majority of the game takes place over a relatively small map compared to many other RPGs.

The Stick of Truth was a bit on the short side as far as RPGs go, as my first play-through took about 15-20 hours that included me trying to find/unlock everything, but I was okay with that. It felt like a really long episode of the show where I was able to interact, and that part was really neat. I played through on Normal difficulty and chose a Fighter class for my character, and really didn’t find the game very challenging. I think I only died in battle 2-3 times total. I didn’t find myself using magic in battle at all because I didn’t need it, and to be honest, didn’t do too much switching between buddy characters. I mostly stuck with Butters and used Jimmy for a period where Butters wasn’t available. Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot in my heart for the guy and loved using his Professor Chaos ability, but there didn’t seem to be much incentive to switching. I imagine this is just personal preference, and had I played as a different character class and/or played the game on Hardcore mode, I may have made different character choices.

I left most fights with the bad guy looking like Cartman, here.

I left most fights with the bad guy looking like Cartman, here.

Overall, the small issue I had with difficulty and length don’t take away from the loads of fun I had playing The Stick of Truth and I absolutely recommend it to any fan of the South Park TV show and RPGs. There is a lot more I’d like to share that I personally enjoyed and appreciated about the game with regard to content, but I’ll leave you to try it out and enjoy it yourself.

Enjoy!

Written by InfiniteKnife

InfiniteKnife

My personal favorite games are those in the Survival Horror and Sports (baseball) genres, but I can find at least a game or 2 in just about any category that I love to play.

I grew up on Nintendo consoles (NES and SNES) and have been an Xbox guy since the first one was released in the early 2000s. It’s hard to stay away from the classics as the 16-bit era is probably still my favorite overall.

 
 

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