Retro Metro Volume II #1: South Park [64]


Welcome, welcome, welcome to Last We—I mean, Retro Metro, Volume II. As some of you know, the Shield has just migrated to our third site, and in honor of that (and because I can no longer recall what number article I was on), I have chosen to make a clean break and start a second volume of this esteemed column. And in the spirit of new beginnings, I have decided to, for the first time in Retro Metro history, review a game I will vehemently recommend against. Now, the most faithful of you readers may recall that in Retro Metro 2: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, I recommended against buying that game; but the difference is that I simply thought most of you would find that game way too hard, whereas I truly believe this game is dreadfully awful.

As always, I would like to start with the game’s plot. Now, as the title implies, this game is based on the television program South Park, but fortunately for those of you who have not been touched with the blinding light of the greatest comedy which man has created, this game is from 1998, so you’ve only missed two seasons. To recap, the eponymous South Park is a Colorado small town, in which a cast of eclectic characters live and interact. The show centers on the children of said town, mainly the corpulent Cartman, his frequent target Kyle, kid-with-no-defining-characteristics-other-than-constantly-vomiting-on-his-crush Stan, and Kenny, who dies in every episode. Beyond all this background, the plot is quite sparse. In fact, the plot is so sparse that Wikipedia can actually do it justice: “A mysterious comet is approaching the earth, described by the opening narration as a force of concentrated evil that no force of good can stand against. As it comes closer, South Park is beset by enemies, including rabid mutant turkeys, deformed clones of the townsfolk, alien visitors, berserk robots, and sentient killer toys. Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny hear about the dangers from Chef [the town school’s chef, voiced by Isaac Hayes], and take up arms to investigate their sources and defend the town.”

With that out of the way, I can now talk about gameplay. South Park [64] is a first-person shooter (FPS), and as a shooter on the Nintendo 64, its most obvious comparison is to GoldenEye 007, a game I reviewed in Retro Metro #8: GoldenEye 007 (N64) and Retro Metro #10: GoldenEye (Campaign). In fact, one of its two control schemes is literally copied from GoldenEye. (The other is literally copied from Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, as those were the two big N64 FPS games.) Seeing as it’s the control scheme I use, I’ll just remind y’all how the controls work: Z (trigger) shoots whatever weapon you have; A switches your weapon; B lets you talk, open doors, and interact in any other way; C-up and C-down (the yellow buttons) make you look/aim higher or lower; and L and R let you jump (this jump isn’t all that high and therefore isn’t useful).

As for the actual gameplay, the obvious comparison is still GoldenEye. From this perspective, South Park [64] really falls flat. Instead of having surprisingly crisp movement and control, you have a character who constantly looks down, whose steps tilt the image in an annoyingly realistic manner, who cannot “strafe” (walk sideways without turning one’s head) and thus has little to no precision, and whose attempts at turning make you dizzy. Instead of unique levels with a variety of objectives and layouts, you just go through the level  and shoot. And instead of enemies who are placed so that any trained player can easily take them out, you have “tanks,” whose whole gimmick is that they run towards and then past you, causing constant backtracking to ensure they do not reach the starting point, because if they do, you have to fight all of the escapees at once after you complete the level.

And now, we come to the music and graphics. The music of this game is decidedly meh, and the graphics is about on par with Super Mario 64 (that is, pretty good), except for the terrible distance fog. Additionally, I should note that, unlike most other games I have reviewed, you can only get this game via cartridge and maybe an emulator.

Finally, one must ask the question, “Why would I ever play South Park [64]?” Well, if you want a good time, then I wouldn’t play this game: I wouldn’t even recommend the multiplayer, because, although I have never played it, I know for a fact that GoldenEye’s is better (because it’s the best). But if you really like South Park, and are willing to suffer through an awful game because of that love, then play this. Sure, you could just play The Fractured But Whole or even The Stick of Truth to get your South Park fix, but this game has the added bonus of being able to tell your friends you managed to beat such a horrible game.