Friday 27 December 2019

South Park (N64 review)

Developer: Iguana Entertainment
Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment
Released: 1998

South Park is a first-person shooter that was later released on Microsoft Windows (1999) and Sony PlayStation (1999).

There's five episodes (with 3-4 levels each) and your objective is to defend South Park against a giant comet and wipe out enemies such as aliens and killer toys. The playable characters are Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan, and your weapons include Snowballs and a Cow Launcher. It's immediately clear that the controls haven't aged well, as both options for moving your character have severe flaws; for example, using the analog stick is far too sensitive on the X axis (resulting in major over-steer), while using the face buttons to advance leads to an overly touchy Y axis (making it difficult to line up shots). It's possible to adjust the more you play, but you'll always feel like you're battling against them, particularly during boss fights. At least the level design is above-average with familiar locations for series fanatics and vast areas to explore; the latter could easily have become overwhelming (especially when you consider the poor draw distance that replaces detail with extreme fog), but thankfully the developers implemented arrow markers and a handy radar. There isn't much variety to the missions, but some are memorable such as the need to destroy stampeding clones before they crush the town. Another cool feature is how you're rewarded with multiplayer characters after finishing each level, as it nudges you into trying out the different gameplay types. The weapons are imaginative, although I do wish there was more ammo to pick up... trying to defeat bosses while only having the default snowball weapon takes forever! The whimsical music suits the action to a tee and the cut-scenes are hilarious.

South Park on the N64 does an excellent job of mimicking the style and humour of the TV show, but pretty much everything else about it is unremarkable. It's biggest issue is the hypersensitive controls and the more you advance the more they become the game's Achilles heel due to their effect on your shot accuracy.

Random trivia: A Game Boy Color version was in development, but was ultimately cancelled.

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