Finally! Finally South Park: The Stick of Truth is out, and boy has it been well worth the wait. As a 26-year-old single male, I can proudly say I spent a majority of my labour day long weekend on the couch, controller in hand, playing this game front to back. Twice. But what makes The Stick of Truth so damn good is it’s not just an enjoyable video game, it’s gut-bustingly hilarious.
Though with so many sharp-witted gags and more than a generous serving of typical South Park humour peppered throughout 10-14 hours, how could you possibly pick just one aspect of the game that stands among the rest? So, because I’m totally into making lists, I picked out five that stuck with me the most.
Your trip to the ‘kingdom of the north’ comes late in the game, but when you finally past the pesky border control officer, you’ll be treated to one of the most entertaining sections of the entire game.
Designed as a top-down perspective The Legend of Zelda homage, the whole of Canada is presented entirely in 8-bit (save for your character), complete with the same basic rudimentary shapes you’d expect from its TV show incarnation. This alone is enough to have you set the controller aside while you soak it all in between tears of laughter, but as you make your way from Ottawa, to Winnipeg, and beyond, classic 8-bit sounds pop up, much to your delight (complete with more Zelda references) for MIDI-inspired renditions of the Canadian national anthem, and of course, “Blame Canada”.
The country’s obsession with flatulence and toilet humour also isn’t forgotten, with two certain monks appearing during your Canadian quest to teach you a few new ‘magic’ moves, which is, as of course, tradition.
Nazi zombie... everything
Nazis and zombies are two of the most overused video game enemy types ever, and so in typical South Park form the two are combined, and meshed together with possibly every single type of foe The Stick of Truth throws at you; from mutant sized rats, to hobos, to underpants gnomes, and even Khloe Kardashian's aborted foetus.
What’s the real punchline here isn’t that you’re going up against nazi zombie cows, or nazi zombie gingers (“is it possible for gingers to be even more lame?!”), it’s that each nazi zombie, whatever they be, shout out the same World War Two Naxi-Germany speech that, given the context, is simply hilarious.
The mighty Nagasaki
South Park is synonymous for its toilet humour, and The Stick of Truth takes this reputation and runs all the way home with it by making farts the standard form of magic in the game. The most powerful “spell” your character will learn, is the mighty Nagasaki.
The way you learn Nagasaki is where the comedy lies, with Terrance and Phillip teaching it to you in a Matrix spoof, complete with all-white environment, black glasses and suits; though I can’t for the life of me remember if poor Neo was ever tasked with squaring off against a mob of pedophiles during his own training.
Reference, after reference
After 17 years the folks behind South Park have created an entire lexicon of gags, phrases and celebrity-related jokes that are all both hilarious to recount, and a joy to watch over and over. So, it’s no surprise The Stick of Truth does well to cram as many references to the show’s 17 seasons as possible, and often to seriously laugh-out-loud results.
Searching every South Park resident’s home, each nook and cranny is a treat, as you’ll come across numerous references from some of the show’s more iconic episodes; from the “Sword of a Thousand Truths”, to the bestselling “The Poop That Took a Pee”. Not just that, but the show’s infamous Pokémon spoof, Chinpokomon make an appearance in the form of in-game collectibles, complete with cheesy “Chin-po-ko-mon!” soundbite every time you pick one up.
I couldn’t possibly start to list all of the references I came across playing the game, but some of the game’s best moments come from discovering an item that you recognise from your favourite episode. If The Stick of Truth is remembered for anything, it’ll be as one of the best forms of South Park fanservice ever made.
If you thought Cartman, or even creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s personal favourite, Butters, were the best characters, you’d be dead wrong. Dead wrong. Title of 'best character' in fact goes to Randy Marsh.
Ever since his first appearance in the episode, Volcano, Randy has shot to the top of many fans’ favourite character lists. Which certainly isn’t hard to see why, as he’s come to embody the pure idiocy of the parents of South Park, a role that sees him steer the town (and sometimes, the whole world) into some very bizarre situations; you only need to watch the episode, Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow, to see Randy at ,what’s arguably, his prime.
Randy doesn’t pop up a lot in The Stick of Truth, which is a shame (there’s sadly none of his popular, “Sharon. Hey, Sharon,” lines, or my personal favourite, “Gawl!”), but whenever he comes on screen, it’s a pure treat (“we’re not just dealing with a regular Taco Bell. We’re dealing with the world’s largest Taco Bell!”). From you rescuing him from an anal probe device, to him teaching you the ‘squeaky sneaker’ in the town’s community centre after a PTA meeting, Randy brings a unique sense of absurdity that only he’s capable of providing.
What’s your favourite moment in South Park: The Stick of Truth?