When South Park: The Stick of Truth changed hands from THQ to Ubisoft, I was worried that the game would never see the light of day. But after reading that South Park creators and my personal idols Matt Stone and Trey Parker were more pleased with Ubisofts work than THQ's, I was a giddy little Butter Leopoldo Scotch tap dancing around the house. Though there was no playable demo at New York Comic Con, the "behind closed doors" showcase was more than enough to make it my most anticipated game of this holiday season.
As soon as Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and the new kid stepped on screen, I was enthralled. It's almost impossible to decipher if you're watching an episode or playing the game, as the crappy, construction paper-like art style and poor animations remain exactly as the show portrays. Everything fits perfectly with the boys' imaginative fantasy game, from the rag tag costumes they've made out of household items to one of their living rooms being a Tavern filled with adventurous folk and a basement doubling as a dungeon.
As Matt and Trey had much creative input and clearly provided all the voices, the humor is spot on, offering a ton of laughs in just the ten minute demo span, with Kenny the princess on the verge of being raped and Cartman being every ounce as funny and maniacal as ever. At one point when Jimmy was speaking and getting hung up on a word, you could literally watch him go on for a couple minutes until you decided to move on. Even though I didn't actually get to play the game, sitting back and watching how accurately the developers have captured the essence of South Park was good enough for me.
The gameplay is traditional, turn-based RPG action, as well as a mix of out of combat abilities that will help the player progress through the level and weaken enemies before the start of a fight. The turn-based combat is much like the JRPGs of old, with enemies on the overworld that can be encountered and battles occurring on another screen with the boys on one side and their enemies on the other.
There are a good amount of abilities to choose from besides the normal attack option, though attacking and many of the abilities follow the Super Mario RPG/Mario & Luigi formula, allowing you to cause more damage or hit an enemy more times if you tap the button at the right time. It requires more skill and interaction than just pressing one button the whole time, which makes for a more enjoyable experience.
Abilities are different for each character and always use objects or aspects from South Park, with the new kid (the player) being able to Roshambo his opponents or fart in his hand and throw it at his enemies, and Butters the cleric being able to smite his enemies with his holy hammer. Farting can also be utilized outside of battle, inflicting status effects, and if there is a fire source around, they can be used as mini explosions to take out any enemy roaming the screen.
The new kid is also able to use a dodgeball to knock down objects to either progress, find secrets, or hurt enemies, like being able to knock down a lantern to cause a fire so you can throw a fart towards the flame to kill everything on screen. Enemies are all other kids and characters from the series, with the demo showing one of the first big bosses the kids have to face to find the Stick of Truth, Jimmy the Bard. Every part of gameplay feeds into South Park's hysterically amazing style, like other kids fighting you throwing F-bombs or dying in typically gruesome and graphic South Park fashion.
With the prospect of South Park: The Stick of Truth entering development hell, I couldn't have left the demo more blown away by how well the show has been captured in game form. There have been other attempts throughout the years without much success, but the Stick of Truth is looking to be pretty damn stellar. Get ready to grab your towel cape for an epic adventure through the little Colorado town of South Park on December 10th.