"Exploration was a must, as entering the bathroom, pooping into a urinal, and retrieving said poop provided an item usable in combat."
The small town of South Park, Colorado hardly seems like the place where one would find a sprawling, epic RPG. That's you thinking with the mind of an adult, though — Tidus has to save the world of Spira from Sin and Diablo must always be defeated. You, though, need to put yourself in the mind of the New Kid in South Park. You have a superpower unheard of in these parts, one that can be used to assist either the wizard Eric Cartman or Stan and Kyle, heralds of the elves. You can fart. On command. Yes, that grandiose power can be used for good or evil for the most valiant cause in South Park: recovering the fabled Stick of Truth.
Our demo took us through South Park Elementary (home of the Cows) as the New Kid and Butters, siding with the Humans, stormed the defenses of the elves in an attempt to recover the stick. Fans of Wild Arms will be happy to see that environments will need to be traversed and solved with the magical tools at the disposal of your average ten year old. Bits of the environment can be destroyed with your lit farts, pieces of equipment can shrink you, and even your alien anal probe can teleport you to locations far out of reach. In the demo, it was all fairly obvious what needed to be done, but it was just that — a demo. Exploration was a must, as entering the bathroom, pooping into a urinal, and retrieving said poop provided an item usable in combat.
Combat itself plays out very similarly to Mario & Luigi, with timed button presses for extra damage becoming a must. All of the skills, like the rest of the game, involve a combination of school-age "magic" and real-life perversion. It's safe to say that Obsidian didn't skimp on any of South Park's foul-mouthed humor, as our demo's final battle with Cartman saw us mashing the A button to overpower his farts with our own.
It's tough to call South Park: The Stick of Truth "gorgeous," with its cardboard cut-out characters, but it is easy to say that it is extremely true to the show. Take away the HUD and UI and an argument could be made that just maybe you're watching an episode of the television show. The environments are equally impressive, with destructible objects aplenty. South Park's level-up system takes place within the world of - what else - Facebook, as the New Kid gains power by finding new friends in South Park, and the aesthetic works quite well.
It's tough to tell based on a short demo how a multi-hour RPG will turn out, but it looks like Obsidian has been making sure they get all of the details right. As long as The Stick of Truth doesn't devolve into thirty hours of swearing and fart jokes, it's looking like Ubisoft picked a winner up from THQ's bankruptcy sale.