South Park: Tenorman's Revenge (XBLA) Review
Posted by Vince Osorio on 03.31.2012
The Xbox Live Arcade exclusive features the same characters, voice talent and humor that you've come to love from the television series. Is this the best South Park game ever or does Tenorman's Revenge fall flat?
Game: South Park: Tenorman's Revenge
Developer: Other Ocean
Rated M for Mature
The South Park franchise has had a, let's say, less than stellar track record when it comes to the video game medium. The original Nintendo 64 first-person-shooter, South Park, has its fans, but the other games that saw release during that generation were critical and commercial bombs, with the series being more or less dormant until the release of the exceptional South Park: Let's Go Tower Defense Play! in 2009 for Xbox Live Arcade. Here was a game that was a very fun tower defense title first, and a damn funny and entertaining South Park title second, not a mediocre game with a popular franchise shoehorned into the action. So needless to say, I was hyped for South Park: Tenorman's Revenge because it sounded like it was going to inject the raunchy humor & irreverent nature of the franchise into a time-tested genre. A co-op, all out 2D platformer is about as solid a foundation as it gets for a South Park title. So needless to say, I had high hopes for this game.
I am here to say that not only is Tenorman's Revenge the worst South Park game out there, it's possibly one of the worst games I have ever encountered in my entire life. It's an absolute sight to be seen, a game that's utterly broken and misguided in every possible way. They don't make games this terrible anymore.
Tenorman's Revenge has a pretty silly story & some excellent voice acting (new dialogue crafted specifically for the game and fully voiced by Matt Stone & Trey Parker), which is really the only highlight the game has to its advantage. The game uses a verbose narrator as the framing device to tell the story of Eric Cartman (who is painted as a god-like savior of the world, with the narrator fawning over his accomplishments at every opportunity) and his friends on the quest to retrive their stolen Xbox 360 hard drive from Scott Tenorman, Cartman's evil ginger half-brother. The main crew of four- Cartman, Kenny, Stan & Kyle, travel to the future where Tenorman has created ginger robots who have taken over the world, and so the kids travel between different portals and different time periods in order to catch him once and for all. It's a relatively amusing premise for a game, all things told, even if it doesn't stand up to the greatest South Park stories. There are enough callbacks, references to older episodes and cameos by other famous characters in the universe to please the hardcore South Park fan. With that said, the story itself is very basic and most of the dialogue is expository in nature. The pacing is too quick to let anything develop, so it just seems like a bunch of events that happen together in a short timespan.
You can choose one of the four main characters to control in a 2D side-scrolling level, and each character has a specific ability that's only exclusive to them. Cartman can use his “big bones” to break down certain walls & platforms, Kyle can use his “ginger power” to infiltrate forcefields that robots can only enter, Stan can throw footballs to as a projectile, and Kenny has the ability to charge a super-jump. On top of this, you can pick up certain weapons which will kill enemies easier (such as a crowbar or a baseball bat), and certain pick-ups will give you access to your superhero alter-ego (Cartman as “The Coon”, Kenny as “Mysterion”, etc), allowing you to access different sections of the level. Your job is to collect “time cores” (there are usually 10 per level) and reach the end of the stage without losing all of your lives. Simple enough, right?
To say that the game “encourages” you to play through levels multiple times would be an understatement. Even though you play the game in an linear order (meaning that you can't continue onto a level until you've beaten the level immediately preceding it), you need to collect a certain amount of those time cores that I mentioned prior. They're hidden throughout the level (along with special items such as the somehow-not-afifliated-with-Capcom “Mega Man” action figures and other goodies) and a good handful of them aren't accessible if you aren't using the right character, meaning that you can't play through the level in a linear path and find them all. You're encouraged to use all characters on each level, which is a solid idea in theory, but in practice, it's not all that much fun.
So here's the deal, the game's platforming mechanics, at best, are sloppy. At worst, they're infuriating and game-breaking. There's a weird split-second lag when you press a button & when that action occurs, which altogether makes jumping a frustrating experience throughout, especially when the game asks for you to complete very precise platforming sections time after time. You'll glide off platforms with ease and fall into pits and traps that force and immediate death, which is fun if you're a masochist, not so much if you actually like to enjoy your time with a video game. Go play something like Super Meat Boy where the action is so fast, fluid, precise & exciting, and the platforming seems like a cheap flash game in comparison.
The “combat” isn't much better. Most enemies can be killed by jumping on their heads twice, though some enemies have spiked heads, meaning that you'll have to use the “push” ability. However, the collision detection is absolutely heinous, making the mechanic completely broken. Your push move doesn't work unless you're close to the enemy, but 9 times out of 10, you'll accidentally touch your enemy, losing part of your life (you can take three hits before dying). It's annoying, unbalanced and actually forced me to use Stan for the rest of the game, since I was able to knock enemies down with his football throw & stomp on them for the kill relatively easily. The worst part is when you have a weapon like a baseball bat which has a longer range than your push, but it won't allow you to hit enemies above you. Oh, but don't worry, because you can still get close enough to the enemy to get hit, but your weapon strike won't register unless you're directly in front of or behind the enemy. How fun. The horrible collision detection also applies to the platforming sections of the games, so you can be relatively far away from a spike or pillar, but if the game registers you as too close, you'll lose a life. Lovely! You're given 5 lives at the start of each level, and I can guarantee that you'll use just about all of them while trying to complete it, and that's all because of the broken mechanics.
The checkpoints are absolutely terrible and unforgiving, forcing you back to sections that were long since past prior to death. I haven't even gotten to the game-breaking glitches, either! There were two specific sections in the game that forced me to restart the game completely. One section had a bug where I got stuck into a level's architecture, with no rhyme or reason to it. Just stuck in a walkable (and completely avoidable) area in the game, with no way out. Only way to finish the level was to quit out and restart the level from the beginning. Another “hilarious” glitch takes place in the sewer level, where you take elevators to reach the next section. I completed a section and entered the elevator and was shown a short cutscene where the door locked behind me as I descended deeper into the sewers. After stepping out into the bottom section, I died from encountering an enemy. Instead of resetting my character back to the lower level, I was reset to the upper level. Remember, the game's scripting forced the elevator to descend and the door to lock behind it. That meant that I had no way to get past that door and enter the next section, making the level literally impossible to finish. This is not acceptable in any video game, ever.
The boss battles aren't too much better, but they're at least more interesting than the normal levels since new mechanics are introduced from time to time. The co-op gameplay (local and online) is serviceable, but the game is so bad that you just wouldn't want to play it with anyone else anyway. The game stays true to the TV show's style, so the animation resembles the cut-out cardboard look of the series. The sound is really what makes the game stand out, as the main themes are epic and grandiose in nature, rivaling that of what you'd hear in the series. Matt & Trey do an excellent job with the material they're given, but altogether, the game just isn't all that funny. It felt as if the developers forgot that the characters, sly satire & smart jokes made South Park a classic in the first place, because most of the game's humor relies on potty language and poop jokes (there's literally a level called “Poop” for instance, where you ride the “Poo-Choo Train” to meet Mr. Hanky). Some of the bits with the narrator are inspired (embellishing the tragic act of "having to rewatch all the cutscenes in L.A. Noire" is a very humorous moment), and the boys play up their "reluctant hero" roles perfectly throughout, with their annoyance with the situation becoming more pronounced as the game goes on. However, those types of jokes are few and far between, instead just relying on shock humor such as inserting a vulgar word in the dialogue now and then, or having characters ride a turd down a sewer pipe into a urine-filled pool. It's sad to think that a game with no real dialogue or star voice talent like Ms. 'Splosion Man is actually significantly funnier and more entertaining than a game with the South Park team behind it.
There are so many amazing (and very funny) platformers available on Xbox Live Arcade right now. The 'Splosion Man series, Super Meat Boy, Trine 2 , to name a few. Literally any of them would be worth your $10 over this title. I don't think I can emphasize how much I hated playing South Park: Tenorman's Revenge. There wasn't a single moment that I didn't absolutely dread picking up the controller and going through a level. It's a game that almost retroactively makes the South Park license worse. It's not funny, it's not entertaining, it's never fun to play, and worst of all, it's utterly boring.
-Full voice work by Trey Parker & Matt Stone
-Chock full of familiar characters and locations from South Park
-Rousing background music & color palette stay true to the show
-Some chuckle-worthy one-liners
-Lame boss battles
-Horrible platforming controls
-Game breaking glitches
-Boring level design
-Uninspired dialogue and jokes
-Awful checkpoint placement
-Forces players to replay levels multiple times in order to move forward
-Tacked-on multiplayer mode
To make a bad game is one thing, but to make a broken game that takes away all of the personality, humor and entertainment out of the South Park crew is a travesty. Tenorman's Revenge is a misfire of epic proportions, one that I hope you all will stay away from.
A reasonable adaptation of the show, but nothing that's particularly exciting.
Horrible controls, terrible checkpoint placement and poor combat along with game-breaking glitches make this one torture to sit through.
Great voice work by Matt & Trey, and the instrumental score is well-done overall.
You will give up on the game long before you see the end. Forcing gamers to replay levels in order to further progress is shameless.