‘South Park: The Stick of Truth’ unleashes pure nostalgia

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South Park: The Stick of Truth
Obsidian Entertainment/South Park Digital Studios
Ubisoft
PS3, Xbox 360

For fans of the show, South Park: Stick of Truth is a necessary addition to their gaming library. Plenty of video games attempt to capture the spirit of a television show or movie, but none has been as successful as Stick of Truth.

Stick of Truth doesn’t just slap together a few running jokes from South Park and drop players into a point-and-click adventure. Instead, players find themselves an integral part of South Park, partnering up with Stan, Cartman, Kyle, and Princess Kenny as they LARP like no one has ever LARPed before.

Actually, I’m kinda jealous. The boys got every kid in South Park to don homemade armor and create alter egos, even the girls and the Goths get in on the action. Some homes have even been converted in to pub where the less than pleasant characters converge for drinks. My hometown was nowhere near that cool.

Personally, this is biggest appeal of the game. I LARPed once, but was just so awful at it because I couldn’t get into character (in my defense I wasn’t properly prepared and had no idea what any of the world’s rules were). However, I have dressed up for the Renaissance Fair and Comic Con, which is always a ton of fun. So I can identify with Cartman and the gang as they run around South Park fighting off enemies with cardboard swords.

Stick of Truth’s narrative isn’t just about fart jokes (though there are an abundance of them) or killing Kenny for the umpteenth time. It stays faithful to the show and makes us all feel like kids again.

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Our quest begins with an epic opening sequence narrated by none other than Cartman, the Grand Wizard of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep. The Grand Wizard speaks of a land torn apart by years of war between humans of Zaron and the wicked Drow Elves of Larnion. He also mentions a prophecy: a new kid will bring peace to the land. And that’s where we come in.

As the new kid in town, our parents naturally want us to get out of the house to make new friends.  We do so in style by assisting Butters and becoming a valuable member of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep.

In Kupa Keep, under Cartman’s watchful eye,  we choose our class: Mage, Fighter, Thief or Jew–yes Jew, and are trained in the art of combat. At this point the game becomes a full fledged turn based RPG, an RPG where the combatants begin to talk smack if you take too long to make a decision.  We learn about the Stick of Truth, naturally a random stick that the boys deemed powerful, which is promptly stolen after Clyde was over taken by the elves.

After banishing Clyde, and consequently setting off a whole series of events that have drastic effects for elves and humans alike, we begin to make a name for ourselves by summoning the three best warriors in the kingdom.

Following classic South Park style, it doesn’t take long for our simple quest to retrieve the Stick of Truth to turn into an edgy over the top mission to save the entire town from green alien goo that turns people into Nazi Zombies.

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There are definitely scenes that beg the question, why? Like the alien probing scene, or the part where your parents decide they need to release a little tension by having sex, while you fight underpants gnomes on their dresser. But of course the answer will always be, because it’s South ParkStick of Truth knows exactly what fans want to experience, and delivers. South Park is painfully re-created for players to walk through, with easter eggs in every corner of town, and references to past episodes that are sure to make players chuckle.

While South Park: Stick of Truth undoubtedly relies on the nostalgia of fans, I certainly found it entertaining. Even now I’m thinking about the time the boys were playing The Lord of the Rings. Is this game nothing more than fan service? Probably, but I think the fans deserve it. Besides, who else is going to buy this game?

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