Review – South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!
Don’t throw the yellow snow.
It’s been 12 years since the foul mouthed children from the bizarre Colorado town graced our screens. Amidst the controversy, satire, hilarity and Scientology bashing the show has attached its name to everything from a major motion picture to music CD’s. However, videogames produced under the South Park name have never been as successful, previous titles have tackled the genres of FPS, Kart Racer and Quiz/Mini-games which were average at best. The very nature of South Park shows that pretty much anything can happen in an episode but how exactly can this be tied into the Tower Defence genre?
South Park Lets Go Tower Defence Play! has a plot that is about as irreverent as the average episode. The town is under siege from various waves of Ginger Kids, Hippies, Demons and Old People and as usual only the kids seem to be bothered about doing anything. The story is told in the standard â€œcheap out storyboardâ€ style as opposed to proper animation, but all the voices are as authentic and brilliant as ever. As you progress through the game defending the different parts of town (stopping the enemies getting past) you reveal a little more of the story. This game isn’t trying to win any Oscars, but it is the familiar voice acting that you’ll enjoy hearing.
The game falls somewhere between the two main styles of TD games. The set path style (much like the awesome Ninja Town on the DS) has you planting towers at the side of the road to attack enemies as they pass. The free path style (much like the awesome Desktop Tower Defence on the Internet) allows you funnel the enemies wherever you want by creating mazes of towers that can be placed anywhere.
The first few levels of the game are mostly just ‘set paths’ for the enemies to travel but it’s not long before you are given a greater ‘free path’ choice of tower placement (still not quite as free as Desktop Tower Defence). Later levels also introduce hazards which can be used to your advantage â€“ dropping a car on unsuspecting Underpants Gnomes, or funnelling Mongolians in the direction of tumbling boulders are both valid (and essential) tactics in using the environment to your advantage.
The towers themselves are pretty basic in their attack. You have the usual cheap-oh all rounder, the laser, the fast firing, the slow and splash damage, the slow acting poison and the tower that slows enemy movement. As usual these towers can be upgraded with extra money, and to keep things simple each tower can only be upgraded once. Towers can only be constructed on patches of snow on the ground which can at times limit how you deploy them.
Hard to believe it’s been ten years since Chef’s Luv Shack. A lot has changed since then, not least of all the death of Chef/Isaac Hayes and birth of the Tower Defence genre. Now if I was to recommend one of those, I’d have to point you towards the recently reviewed Defence Grid, as it completely shames SP: LGTDP! in pure gameplay terms. The only thing going for this game is fanservice – over ten years’ worth of it. Well, that and the music.
We’re talking eighty video clips from the show; eleven unlockable characters – each one with their own super power; and original dialogue performed by the cast. It’s the last feature that sold it for me, given the amount of audio cues activating all the time. Whether it’s the song of the Underpants Gnomes or just any time Cartman speaks, videogame dialogue is rarely this funny.
“Who’d want to unrock Craig? He’s an asshole.”
While the tower defence mechanics are by this point incredibly primitive, the ability to directly control the four boys and earn coins by taking down enemies yourself adds a bit of risk/reward to otherwise trial-and-error gameplay. This is often more of a risk than it should be, given that in the heat of a hippy rush, it can be a very easy when switching characters to accidentally walk into an enemy, which downs you and depletes your special gauge. If you have people to play with though, you might even be able to take a stab at the challenges. (and you should probably add a point or two to the score)
Secondary Score: 6/10
Other areas have massive patches of snow which are prime for building snow walls â€“ built and placed just like towers these are very cheap and can create your own set path that the enemies most follow. Additionally towers can later be places atop the walls. A common strategy is to create your set path with the cheaply produced walls and then garnish with some towers.
In addition to the games hazards and towers, you of course have your friends to help you â€“ either online with real people or offline with you moving the characters into position yourself – characters you aren’t controlling automatically attack. Each character also has a special ability meter which is filled by hitting enemies with snowballs.
Special abilities range from damaging enemies, to buffs which make your characters more potent for a short time. Unlocked characters, with their own unique stats and special attack can be used on subsequent play throughs of the game. As you progress through the game you unlock information on the towers, enemies, extra characters and of course video clips (over 80 of them).
Everyone will have a chance to get through the game with the ability to switch difficulty levels on the fly, and even skip levels all together if you are having difficulty. I am a massive fan of South Park, but blind devotion to a cartoon is not enough to enjoy a computer game (see some of the PS era SP games). Thankfully South Park Lets Go Tower Defence Play! is an enjoyable TD game that comes with a bucket load of fan service as extra.