The South Park series has a rocky relationship with the world of tie-in video games. While Obsidian’s critically acclaimed South Park: The Stick of Truth managed to break the series’ streak of lackluster video games, there were plenty of Chef’s Love Shack’s and South Park Rally’s to stink up the series’ good name. And according to the sleuths at Happy Console Gamer, there was almost one more halfhearted South Park game to add to the pile, and it was apparently bound for the original Xbox.
In a new video added to Happy Console Gamer’s YouTube channel, the team reveals a heretofore-unseen South Park Xbox game. In the video, the duo talks of how an inconspicuous Xbox development kit was purchased at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, which led to the unearthing of the only playable version of the canceled title.
The title in question turned out to be a tie-in game developed by a studio known as Buzz Monkey Software. The version found on the development kit appeared to be an early Alpha version of the game, and is thus littered with game-breaking bugs. But from the scant gameplay available it becomes apparent that the South Park game was similar to the popular 2003 GTA clone, The Simpsons: Hit & Run.
The alpha casts the player as Cartman, turning the foulmouthed fourth grader loose on a nearly completed model of his home. The objective of the level seems to echo the classic South Park episode “Up the Down Steroid,” spawning Cartman in front of a chalk board that reads “Find retard costume” and “Get on short bus,” but attempting to grab the level’s objective will cause the alpha to crash.
Besides Cartman’s house, the alpha features various test levels showcasing the game’s planned combat system and carjacking feature. Meddling with the camera in the alpha’s freeroam test mode allowed Happy Console Gamer to explore the world of South Park, showing that Buzz Monkey had managed to craft a large, albeit unfinished, replica of the town of South Park. Additional split screen test modes and character tests of Kyle, Kenny, and Stan were found within the alpha, but the controls and lag made these modes downright unplayable.
While the reason that Buzz Monkey ended up pulling the plug on the game remains unknown, Happy Consoler Games posits that the studio’s purchase by Zynga could have played a part. Before being swallowed by the mobile gaming giant, Buzz Monkey had released handheld ports of NFL Street 3 and Army of Two: The 40th Day, but South Park was set to be the developer’s first foray into console gaming, so it’s possible the switch proved too difficult for the team, leading to the cancellation.
While the brief glimpses of the game offer an interesting look at what could have been, it’s easy to understand why the game was ultimately shelved. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always been vocal in their disdain of lazy cash-in games, which led to the duo personally picking Obsidian for South: Park: The Stick of Truth to ensure the quality of the game.
With the next South Park game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, right around the corner, it remains to be seen if South Park can make for another good video game or if South Park has more half-baked tie-ins in its future.