Jacob Siegal of Game Rant reviews South Park: Tenorman's Revenge
Scott Tenorman is an unhappy redhead. If you are not familiar with the lore of South Park, Eric Cartman once had a young man's parents killed, turned them into chili, and then fed them to that same young man - after a relatively harmless altercation between the two. The young man was Scott Tenorman, a ginger who was later revealed to be Eric Cartman's half-brother. Now Scott Tenorman has stolen the Xbox 360 hard drive from our favorite South Park residents, and they must travel through time and sewers to get it back. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds.
South Park: Tenorman's Revenge is a 2D platformer focusing on collecting countless doodads, combating an army of robot redheads, and most importantly, retrieving that darn stolen Xbox hard drive from Scott Tenorman. The most effective way to describe this game might be by using an apt chili metaphor: the ingredients all seem delicious by themselves, but the end product suffers from lack of attention to some very basic game design principles. See, that metaphor worked flawlessly.
Platforming, which covers everything from bounding on enemy heads to jumping over lakes of urine, is fluid and fun. The characters, Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny, all control the same, with variations coming in the form of special abilities and superhero power-ups. These abilities and power-ups are vital for the collection of Time Cores, the only collectables necessary to continue to the next level.
The opening cutscene and subsequent introduction to familiar vocal performances are terrifically faithful to the series the game is based on. Matt Stone and Trey Parker reprise their roles as, well, basically everything in South Park, and the animation is identical to the show, from the waddle-walk movement of the characters to the expressions on their faces. South Park Digital Studios has something to be proud of in that regard.
That said, the introduction to the controls and story are simple, brief, and entirely misleading. Once the opening level is completed, the game begins to fall apart. As previously stated, each level requires Time Cores to unlock, but many Time Cores are only available by playing through levels either multiple times alone, or with three other players. Any nostalgia or humor in the levels quickly runs thin when you are searching aimlessly through a poorly constructed level trying to reach the one Time Core needed to advance.
The game does have both local and online co-op, welcome additions to any XBLA title, but players that decide to go solo will be seeing environments over and over in an attempt to gather glowing objects - just to reach the next level. All of this might not be quite so painful if not for the fact that every enemy, every laser beam or lava pit, becomes less of a challenge, and more of an unavoidable frustration requiring more luck, time, and patience than skill. Elevators and rising acid are standard fare in 2D platformers - and, as such, players must avoid these obstacles in order to move on unharmed.
Not in Tenorman's Revenge! Elevators, lifts, and other cycling progression machines litter the stages, but if you take too long to hop on, prepare to be forced to wait for the contraption to slowly work its way back to you. Again, not a terrible problem as an isolated incident, but expect to be impeded by issues like these multiple times in every level. It's like slamming on the brakes every 30 seconds while trying to finish a race. As a result, the game has no flow whatsoever.
Combat is competent but nothing new. Enemies can be dispatched by either jumping on their noggins or using a variety of weaponry scattered throughout South Park. The weapons serve their purpose - a couple good smacks to the scalp with a crowbar will take out most foes - and the bubble gun and black hole gun are especially fun.
As for the jumping on heads, an action players will resort to very regularly as weapons break after being worn down, the mechanic couldn't be much worse. Every single robot ginger requires not one, but two head-hops to be taken out. The first destroys the devilish ginger disguise, revealing their true identity as a robot. The second kills them. The problem is, the first jump often sends the player flying off in a random direction - and guiding Cartman back over a robot while trying to stay within the stupidly small hitbox provided by each enemy is the stuff of nightmares.
Overall, despite the occasionally atrocious (and occasionally less atrocious, but still not good) controls and unbelievable disrespect for single player gamers, there were moments of genuine fun to be had. Sitting down and playing with a friend was not quite up to Rayman Origins standards, but we bashed each other with baseball bats and helped each other find Time Cores, all while giggling and shouting at the TV.
While it might not be the worst licensed game on the Xbox Live Marketplace, it's hard to recommend the title to anyone but die-hard South Park fans who are more interested in seeing their favorite characters in video game form than actually taking-part in competent gameplay. A funny idea quickly becomes an exercise in frustration, tedium, and lack of attention to the details that really matter.
South Park: Tenorman's Revenge is now available on XBLA for 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00).
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