A favorite of many, South Park is one of the longest running and most successful animated shows of all time. It’s been on the air for more than 23 years now and during that time has spawned a number one single, a blockbuster movie and even a hugely successful Broadway show. It should come as no surprise then, that there have also been numerous attempts at adapting the show into video game form.
Activision were the first to attempt this and released three titles across the late 90’s and early 00’s. Since then there have been a further 6 South Park games. Given the huge success of the show, the task of capturing its brilliance and turning that into something new is a daunting one. Many developers have tried, but only a select few have gotten the recipe just right. The rest often just left a sour taste in the mouths of series fans.
9 South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack
South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack is a digital quiz show with a small selection of largely underwhelming minigames sprinkled on top. It allows for up to four players, with each taking control of one of the show’s four main characters. The questions are exactly what one might expect from a South Park themed quiz and the minigames are incredibly limited in scope.
Chef’s Luv Shack is a bad game. There’s no two ways about it. Minigames feel like a hindrance rather than a reward and, due to the constant repetition, it’s not a game with a lot of replayability. Considering Mario Party was already a thing at the time it released, it’s a hugely disappointing effort that offers about 30 minutes of entertainment at best.
8 South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge
Tenorman’s Revenge was an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive, so not too many people got a chance to play it. It’s an incredibly basic 2D platformer that leaned heavily on the South Park license rather than putting too much time or thought into the gameplay. The story isn’t too bad, but it probably would have worked much better as an episode of the show.
The game centers around minor character Scott Tenorman and his army of gingers. Players travel through time and across several different countries in order to retrieve a stolen Xbox 360 hard drive. Gameplay is basic, as is the sound design. For the price, it wasn’t too bad, but for a video game based on one of the most successful animated shows of all time, it leaves a lot to be desired.
7 South Park Rally
South Park is one of many big franchises that’s tried its hand at a kart racing game. Unfortunately, it’s more wet fart than Mario Kart. Trey Parker and Matt Stone played very little part in the production of the game and it really shows through its lazy attempts at humor. Even though it features all the characters, it just doesn’t feel like South Park.
Anybody looking for a middle of the track kart racer might take some enjoyment from South Park Rally, but those hoping for a fun experience would be better off looking elsewhere. Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing. Pretty much anywhere else.
6 South Park
Fans were extremely excited at the prospect of being able to visit South Park on their home consoles. Unfortunately, they were left bitterly disappointed by the first ever South Park game. The 3D graphics are pretty standard for the era, but they really don’t mesh well with characters that were designed to be 2D. It just looks wrong and by extension, so does the game.
Those who are able to get past the visual oddities of South Park, will likely conclude that it isn’t actually a bad game. There are even moments where it could be described as good. The game also features plenty of unlockable characters which gives fans a little extra incentive to keep playing just a little bit longer. For a first effort, it isn’t as bad as history seems to remember it. It isn’t good either though.
5 South Park: Phone Destroyer
Phone Destroyer is a free to play game that launched shorty after The Fractured but Whole. It’s a collectible card game and, like most freemium games, includes in-app purchases. Considering the tone of the South Park Episode Freemium isn’t Free, it’s a little surprising that Trey Parker and Matt Stone signed off on this. For what it is though, it’s pretty decent.
The game looks great, the story is fairly entertaining and it even features multiple endings. Unlike typical games where the ending is dictated by the player’s actions in game though, it’s instead decided based on how much the player has spent on microtransactions. It’s a nice idea that perhaps would have landed a bit better if the game hadn’t been published by Ubisoft.
4 South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!
Tower defense games are a dime a dozen and are generally fairly generic. Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! is actually a great game though. It released around a decade after the original 3 South Park titles and the developers were sure to avoid making the same mistakes.
There are no horrible 3D character models to be found here. That alone goes some way to making it a better game than its predecessors. Combine this with a surprisingly deep story and some very accessible game mechanics and you have the recipe for a pretty solid, albeit unspectacular, video game. It’s just a shame that fans had to wait 12 years after the TV show’s first airing for a decent South Park title.
3 South Park Pinball
Many people aren’t aware of this, but Sega actually used to make pinball machines. They produced around 50 unique machines in total, before eventually bowing out of the market in 1999. The last machine that they ever made was based on South Park. 15 years later, and the team over at Zen Studios created a digital version of this game.
It released as a standalone app and was also included in Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX 2. Fans of the genre will know that Zen Studios is to pinball games what Square Enix is to JRPGs. As a result, the game is fantastic, for a pinball game, at least. Unfortunately, due to licensing issues the app is no longer available – although the game can still be played as part of the two aforementioned pinball titles.
2 South Park: The Fractured But Whole
The Fractured but Whole was the follow up to the hugely successful The Stick of Truth. They often say that if it isn’t broke, it doesn’t need to be fixed and that certainly seemed to be the thinking here. It offers small improvements here and there but for the most part is more of the same. It did manage to sneak the word ‘butt-hole’ past censors and many unassuming parents though and even includes a really cool secret boss fight.
There’s a lot to love about this game, but its writing is probably the thing that stands out most. While it’s undoubtedly a fantastic game though, it perhaps doesn’t do quite enough to differentiate itself from The Stick of Truth. That said, for anybody who has even a passing interest in South Park, it’s still a title worth playing – not to mention a more than worthy sequel.
1 South Park: The Stick Of Truth
The Stick of Truth was the first time that a video game adaptation of South Park came close to living up to the brilliance of the Show. It’s no coincidence perhaps, that it was also the first time that Trey Parker and Matt Stone had been so heavily involved in one of the games’ productions.
The Stick of Truth is exactly what a South Park video game should always have been. For all intents and purposes, it’s an interactive episode of the show featuring the same great animation and brilliant writing – with some extras thrown in too. It’s perhaps a little shorter than some fans would have liked, but it still manages to pack a lot in.
NEXT: The Simpsons: 10 Best Games Of All Time, Ranked
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