Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'd Rather Not Go Down To South Park

A lot of times I don't know why I own the games I write about, but I can probably guess accurately as to why I own South Park for the Nintendo 64. Seeing as it was released right around my twelfth birthday, I would say I own it because I was twelve, and obviously that meant I thought South Park was cool because it was a cartoon about kids that used naughty words. The joke was on me though, because Iguana Entertainment, known best for making the Turok series and some terrible WWF games, made this game, and it is basically a Turok game with a South Park skin. I never liked Turok. No, it wasn't just “like Turok,” if Wikipedia is to be believed it actually ran on the same engine as Turok 2, which came out the same month.

I didn't actually know about the Turok connection at the time, but I kind of feel like an idiot now for missing the “subtle” clues. For one, the default control scheme is called “To Rock.” Derp. And the most obvious sign, the draw distance is about 10 feet in front of your face the entire game. Herp. That's right, a month before Silent Hill was released, the foggiest game in the history of video games was released, and it was a comedic first-person shooter. The game is so misty I thought it was coded by Stephen King. Okay, I've made my draw distance jokes, but there were a lot of N64 games that had this problem, this Turok engine just happens to be on of the worst. I mean, most game didn't have the problem with levels that were entirely indoors.


The game controls decent enough, though I do hate it when you need to “Turok jump,” which is when you walk off a ledge, begin falling just slightly, then jump. It never made any damn sense to me. At least this game's level design doesn't rely too heavily on platforming. Going back and replaying it today, I only played through the first level, and it wasn't too hard, but I recall the game's difficulty ramping up significantly rather quickly. I don't know if I just sucked at FPS games back then, but I know I never got too far into the game without cheating. Considering that this game came out a month after the original Half-Life, I can't really defend the game in retrospect, saying it was just a product of it's time. Before anyone jumps down my throat for comparing PC and console FPS's, I should say that there is a PC version of South Park, with the only major difference being that the PC version looks sharper and has a larger draw distance.

Pictured:  fantastic QA department results.
Depending on whether or not you are or were a South Park fan from the early years, the game may not be a complete loss. The humor is still there and relatively intact thanks to voice work done by the original creators. There are tons of references to stuff from the first couple seasons, such as killer turkeys and deformed clones. The developers also did a pretty good job of recreating the look of South Park in 3D, which is best exemplified by the recreation of the show's intro. The weapon selection is nice in that it obviously isn't your typical FPS fare, and they generally have different properties than shooting bullets.

Still, I don't like the game, probably because at its core is a Turok game. There is a lot of general sloppiness in the game as well, like if you walk up to a wall you can see through it. That's just plain laziness on the developers part. Before you release a game you should work out the clipping a collision detection. After having written about it, I'll be glad to put this away for another ten or more years.

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