South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge review (XBLA)
South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge was developed by South Park Digital Studios/Other Ocean Interactive and was published by Microsoft Studios. It was released on March 30, 2012 for 800 MSP. A code was provided for review purposes.
South Park games have generally been good over the years. South Park Rally, South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack, and even South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! have all been solid titles leading one to think that when adopted in to a different form of entertainment, the brand would be presented with the same attention to quality that shows in each weekly episode. Sadly that is not the case with South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge. You’ll probably crack a brief smile during the opening story book cinematic, but shortly after that you’ll likely be filled with rage, frustration and absolute disbelief.
If you’re not familiar with South Park storylines, then all you really need to know is that Eric Cartman and Scott Tenorman pretty much hate each other. As a prank that started with Tenorman swindling Cartman out of $10, the rivalry quickly spiraled out of control as it lead to Cartman ultimately tricking Tenorman into eating his dead parents. Now Tenorman is back for his revenge and this time he has taken one of the most prized possessions from Eric Cartman, his Xbox 360 hard drive.
Here’s what we liked:
A trip through memory lane – This game spans over 22 levels that all take place in worlds that have become quite familiar to South Park fans. From Pi Pi’s Splashtown to the Tynacorp Labs, South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge does an excellent job of putting fans of the series in some of the most beloved locations of the shows past.
The alter ego – You can control one of the four main characters in South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge and each of the boys have an alter ego from the Superhero arc of episodes that they can occasionally turn in to. Stan is Toolshed and he can drill through soft spots in the environment. Cartman is The Coon and he has the ability to scale walls. Kyle is the Human Kite and this allows him to glide across large gaps. And Kenny is Mysterion which makes him briefly invulnerable to any damage after his first initial death. These power-ups provide the only moments in the game where you actually feel equipped to handle the expectations weighing on the players shoulders. For a brief few seconds, you actually feel in control when channeling any of these alter egos.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Sluggish controls – The speed at which you move is unbelievably slow and will no doubt be the first thing you notice as you start the opening level. The next thing you’ll notice is how small the jump distance is as you try to leap on to the first floating platform. It won’t be long after that when you’ll begin to ask yourself if the single player experience is lagging. Along with the slow pace of the movements, the responsiveness to your input is extremely slow as well. Things like swinging bats at enemies seem simple at first but turn out to be fairly difficult as you try to time your painfully slow attacks. This will lead to a lot of unnecessary damage being taken over the course of the game.
Questionable level design – With such below-average controls already in place, it’s baffling to see some of the choices that went in to the level designs. Some jumps are at the absolute max distance a character can cover in one jump. Making these jumps very difficult for most players. But just in case that isn’t hard enough, there’s almost always going to be a gingerbot throwing bombs at you while you try to line up that jump. Players of this game should expect to have to try the majority of jumps a few times before they successfully clear them.
On top of the level design being flat-out difficult to deal with, there are a lot of other questionable decisions to point out. You’ll notice that if playing in single player, there will be sections where four hearts and a box of Snacky Cakes are all within a few feet of each other. This was obviously put in place to replenish the health of a four-man team but in single player it just leads to a lot of unused health pick ups. Considering how often you need health, it’s a fairly aggravating feeling leaving these pick-ups behind. There are also many levels that have a 1-up sitting right next to the exit. Why is this necessary? Health resets every time you start a new level. Who really needs an extra life before they walk the last three inches in a level?
The knock back – By far the hardest thing to look past in this game is the fact that every time you are hit by an enemy, you will be knocked back a few inches. This often leads to being knocked of platforms and falling onto another platform where you’ll be hit once again, starting a loop of being knocked around until you lose all your health. This is incredibly frustrating especially in levels that feature a lot of vertical platforming.
The collectibles – There are Megamen and time cores that act as collectibles in each level. Megamen really serve no purpose other than acting as one third of a time core as collecting all three Megamen in each level will result in a bonus time core being given. Time cores however are absolutely necessary and they kill any fun you might have been having. As you progress, you will need to have a set number of time cores in order to unlock the next level. You might finish a level with two of the ten time cores available which sounds fine if collectibles aren’t your priority. But then you’ll quickly realize that you’ll have to replay the past level with each of the other three characters in order to collect the remaining time cores in order to progress the game. This breaks up any sense of flow that the story might have had as you will constantly be backtracking. A simple “press LB to change characters” on the fly feature could have easily remedied this issue but apparently unnecessary inflation of “replay ability” is still a thing in video games.
The time bombs – Every so often, you’ll get close to catching Scott Tenorman and he will trigger a time bomb that you must destroy before the timer goes off. And every time you try to get to that time bomb you will almost undoubtedly die on your first attempt. This will then take you back to a check point but the timer on the bomb won’t reset. Instead you might as well wait out the remaining 20 or so seconds left on the time bomb and let it go off. You can’t possibly get from point A to point B in the time remaining which means that every time you fail once on a time bomb, you really fail twice. You’ll find yourself replaying these sequences over and over and over again.
How to play it? – South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge was clearly developed to be played in four player co-op. It’s extremely difficult and grueling to play this game in single player. The game doesn’t scale at all. You’ll encounter the same amount of enemies no matter how many active players are in the game. But you’ll have to sacrifice something no matter how you chose to play this game. In single player, everything you do and collect will save but the kicker is that you’ll likely have to play each level at least four times as playing each level with each character is necessary in more levels than it’s not.
But as you play in multiplayer only the host of the game will get to keep the most essential progression items. Stats like what character you beat the level with or what medal you earned will carry over for each of the other players. But only the host will get to keep each Megaman and time core collectible found. To add more head scratching decisions to the mix, only the collectibles still missing from the host’s collection of Megamen and time cores will actually appear in the level. This doesn’t even allow the other players a chance to see the locations of their missing collectibles. And even worse, if you were to play a few levels in a friend’s game then sign back in a few hours later to play by yourself, you’ll have to start over. No collectibles being saved means you can’t unlock any of the levels you previously played through with your co-op friends. This really makes the ideal method of playing this game less than ideal unless all four of you are in it together for the long haul. And at 22 brutal levels, that is not a likely scenario. Somebody is bound to tap out, you better hope it is not the host player.
It’s really hard to say many nice things about South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge. As a South Park game you would like to think that the story would be enough to carry you through any issues the game might have. But the issues are constantly overwhelming and to be honest, the story isn’t even interesting or funny. This game is a huge disappointment and not even recommendable to the most hard core South Park fans. There are a ton of other platformers already available on XBLA that are far better than South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge. As a very passionate South Park fan, it hurts to say this but you really should avoid playing this game.
Score: Skip It