Unless you’ve completely avoided all popular culture for the last 25 years, it’s pretty much impossible that you haven’t at least heard of South Park. The satirical animated show created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker got its start all the way back in 1997, and it’s arguably still going strong today; many fans say it hasn’t lost its lustre in the same way as, say, Family Guy or The Simpsons have.
Of course, one area in which South Park does endure a somewhat spotty legacy is the world of gaming. Compiling a list of “the best” South Park games is a little difficult; beyond a few undeniable gems, the list inevitably transforms into the “least worst” South Park games. Still, some are definitely more worth your time than others, so without further ado, let’s take a look at the best South Park games!
For many years, South Park games have ranged from decent to terrible, but The Stick of Truth changed all that back in 2014. That’s probably largely down to the fact that the game enjoyed the involvement of Parker and Stone themselves, who wrote and voiced The Stick of Truth, giving it a feeling of authenticity and truth to the show that many other South Park games lack. It’s also a rock-solid turn-based RPG, full of Paper Mario-style combat minigames alongside South Park’s signature ribald, satirical humour.
Hem, hem. Punworthy title aside, The Fractured but Whole is a worthy followup to The Stick of Truth. It tosses aside the fantasy-inspired aesthetic of its predecessor, choosing instead to skewer the world of superhero movie franchises. As ever, South Park’s targets are fairly broad, but it hits them with reliable accuracy, and the combat and exploration in The Fractured but Whole are just as fun as they were in Stick of Truth. If you loved the first game, you’ll also like this one, as it plays pretty much like an extended episode of the show.
South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!
Originally released on the Xbox 360 via that system’s venerated Xbox Live Arcade program, Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! is, as the name suggests, a tower defence game. You must place towers along a path on which enemies will march, but since this is South Park, those enemies take the form of iconic characters and one-off villains from the show, including crab people, cows, and, uh, ginger people. Look, South Park has never been particularly kind to its targets, okay?
South Park Rally
The unfortunate truth is that before The Stick of Truth, South Park games were pretty generic and mediocre across the board. South Park Rally is one of the best of a bad bunch, but that’s only because it’s a standard kart racer that happens to feature South Park characters. If you like South Park humour – and, in particular, if you’re a fan of the 2000 movie (and who isn’t?), then you’ll find lots to like here, but it’s not going to challenge Mario Kart for its crown anytime soon.
South Park Pinball
Licensing issues really do feel like the bane of the video game world’s existence at times. South Park Pinball was released by Zen back in 2014, and it was technically DLC for the pinball games Pinball FX2 and Zen Pinball 2. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available because of (you guessed it) the aforementioned licensing issues, which means that you can no longer experience this loving homage to the classic animated show. Gameplay-wise, it was pretty much just pinball, but as with most other Zen products, it’s all about the aesthetic.
Amusingly subversive title aside, South Park: Phone Destroyer is pretty much just another mobile game, albeit one with a slightly higher aesthetic pedigree thanks to the offbeat brilliance of Parker and Stone’s character art. This isn’t going to challenge either of the Ubisoft RPGs for the crown of best South Park game, but if you’re a massive fan of the show and you don’t mind constantly feeling like you’re supposed to be paying more money for the game than you are, then it’s a decent enough little time-waster.
South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack
We’ll level with you: everything from this point onwards is pretty much subpar. South Park was in dire straits when Ubisoft rescued it from the trough with The Stick of Truth in 2014, and it’s thanks to games like Chef’s Luv Shack that this was the case. A trivia game with some rather unnecessary minigames thrown in for “good” measure, Chef’s Luv Shack isn’t offensively bad or anything, but it’s not particularly great, either. If you’re a South Park fan, you might get some laughs out of it, but everyone else need not apply.
The first ever South Park video game was released all the way back in 1998 for the N64, and would later be ported to the PC and the PlayStation, although we’re not sure why this unkindness was visited on those platforms. It was a first-person shooter in which the boys must defend their town against invading mutant turkeys, aliens, and other ne’er-do-wells, all the while quipping in the show’s signature off-colour style. Unfortunately, South Park was beset by repetitive gameplay, tiresome voice lines, and clunky controls, so it wasn’t exactly an auspicious gaming debut for the show.