South Park debuted on Comedy Central in 1997. The show featured crude animation with even cruder third graders. The show earned critical acclaim early on, and it wasn’t long until Acclaim made a deal with the showrunners to develop video games based on the series.
The series of South Park games started poorly but have slowly risen in quality over the years. The original set of South Park games created by Acclaim is the worst of the bunch. Years later, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker took the game franchise into their own hands, approaching Obsidian to create the next generation of South Park Games.
A new South Park game is currently in development, and we can only hope that the franchise continues on its current trajectory and doesn’t slip back to the early days. These are all the South Park games ranked from worst to best.
South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack
Chef’s Luv Shack is the worst South Park Games, and it’s not even close. The game was designed as a Mario Party rip-off with the South Park kids. The setting changed from a board game to a game show, with Issac Hayes Chef as the host.
On paper, Chef’s Luv Shack is a great idea for a party game. Making a Mario Party clone for adults with trivia questions, a good license, and original voice actors sounds like a slam dunk. Acclaim unfortunately executed development terribly, and there is no fun to be found in this title.
The mini-games in the collection are terrible. The graphics look horrendous, even for the time of release. The trivia questions are inscrutable and don’t even have the decency to give you the correct answer when you fail. Worst of all, the game has terrible sound design. When you’re making a game based on a show known for its voice acting and humor, a humorless game show that sounds like it was recorded inside Kenny’s jacket is a bad idea.
Chef’s Luv Shack is a skip for everybody. Even the die-hard South Park fans won’t find any enjoyment in this game.
South Park Rally
South Park Rally beats out Chef’s Luv Shack, but not by much. Rally is a rip-off of Mario Kart, like Chef’s Luv Shack, was a rip-off of Mario Party. Also, like Chef’s Luv Shack, there is little fun to be found in this Kart racer.
The idea, again, is quite a good one. A Kart racer aimed at adults with a license as recognizable as Comedy Centrals hit could have been a home run. Instead, Acclaim cut corners in development, and what we received was a Kart racer with seven tracks that are impossible to navigate.
The levels in Rally are not standard circuit tracks. Instead, Acclaim developed seven open area tracks and places checkpoints along the map you must follow to win. It’s exactly as obtuse as it sounds.
This level design means that Rally can have multiple races in re-used assets. It also means that you will rarely know where you’re going in any given race. The game also suffers from the normal Acclaim problems. The graphics are bad, the sound is atrocious, and the gameplay is not fun. There are shimmers of South Park humor in the game, but nothing that makes the game worth playing.
The first game Acclaim released based on the Comedy Central property was their best, but that isn’t saying much. South Park is a first-person shooter, putting you in the shoes of one of their four children while they defend the town from a host of enemies. You’ll shoot mutant turkeys, aliens, robots, and more throughout the short experience.
The quality of the game varies depending on the platform, with the N64 version being remembered best. But each version of the game still suffers from bland environments, bad humor, and criminally bad voice acting.
South Park tried to find their footing in different genres during the fifth console generation, but nothing ever stuck. Most blame can be placed on Acclaim, as each game felt like a rushed cash-grab rip-off. Thankfully for the show’s fans, the quality of releases has increased in the years since Acclaim made the games.
South Park: Tenormans Revenge
Scott Tenorman is most famously remembered for eating a bowl of chili made with the remains of his parents. This made him cry like a little baby in front of Radiohead, who ceremoniously named him “uncool.”
Tenormans Revenge puts Scott in the spotlight as the game’s villain seeking revenge against Cartman. Tenormans Revenge is a platformer game that takes place across different periods and settings. The game is also an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive.
Tenormans Revenge is a fairly mediocre platformer, but given the absolute garbage that came before, Tenromans Revenge meets the barrier of recommendable to South Park fans. It’s not a higher barrier, but one so few games can meet.
South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!
Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! was the first South Park game released almost a decade after the horrendous original trilogy. It’s another Xbox Live Arcade exclusive and one of the best South Park games.
As the title suggests, this is a tower defense game, but with the ability to control one or all four main characters during battle. This doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel as far as tower defense games go, but it is a nice touch.
The game makes smart use of the license, and multiplayer can be a lot of fun. It can be strategic and fun, with four players controlling one of the kids. When you’re playing alone, the game can feel a bit too chaotic, as you must control all four.
Make no mistake, Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! isn’t going to win any awards. But it is a fun game with friends, especially show fans.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole
South Park: The Fractured but Whole features not only the best double entendres in-game names, but it’s also a genuinely fun and funny RPG. And it’s only gotten better post-release with the meaningful DLC that’s been added.
The game puts you in the town’s “new kid” shoes as he plays superheroes around the Colorado town with show favorites. Combat takes place in the form of turn-based attacks on a battlefield where characters can move around freely, adding an extra layer of strategy.
The best part of this game is how much it feels like you’re playing an episode of the show. The show’s creators worked with the developers to ensure the game contained the South Park formula. That attention to detail shines through in the final products. The Fractured but Whole is the first South Park game that can be recommended to South Park fans and RPG fans.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Finally, we’ve reached the end of our list of South Park games ranked from worst to best.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is the best South Park game. It’s the first South Park to feature direct involvement from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and their DNA is all over this game. After so many bad South Park games, The Stick of Truth was a breath of fresh air for fans of the series.
The game introduced the town’s new kid, allowing you to create a character and put yourself into the show’s hijinx. The kids in town are playing a fantasy LARPing game, and you get to join in. The character classes are all jokes of classic fantasy role-playing classes and are right on brand for the property.
The Fractured but Whole, this game’s sequel, features a little stronger combat, but the reason this one ranks higher is the story and setting work perfectly for South Park. The show always had a great knack for telling outlandish stories but still retaining the sense that these are kids with wild imaginations. The Stick of Truth captures this perfectly with settings and items switching between high fantasy and low-quality kid toys.
South Park games launched with a pretty rocky start. The original games were searching for a genre and a voice. They never found either, and each game made before the Xbox Live Arcade era is better left forgotten. But with Ubisoft taking over and the show’s creators directly involved, the franchise has become one with great RPG mechanics and fantastic storytelling. Let’s hope the new South Park game will live up to the latest releases.
How did we do on our list of South Park games ranked worst to best? Let us know in the comments below, and keep the conversation going!