It might come of some surprise that Real Networks’ latest crack at the South Park franchise isn’t actually tied to a single episode. Though Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s intentionally odious opus is hardly lacking in material, South Park Mega Millionaire is less of an attempt to mirror a set story and more of a move to capture the general ethos of the show, packing it into what could be an entertaining platformer in its own right.
And that, dressing aside, is what Mega Millionaire is. Taking control of Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny one by one, you guide them through 24 levels that come with items to collect, ledges to jump between and plenty of enemies to avoid. Set in a crazy Japanese game show, the challenges are designed to entertain the show’s live studio audience and, quite bizarrely, cause you a fair amount of pain as you try to cross the finish line.
Yep, that’s a tortoise.
Despite this typically bizarre staging, it’s all actually fairly standard stuff. With control of Cartman and co. handed over to the iPhone’s accelerometer, South Park’s leads play each stage with roller skates strapped to their feet, so tipping the phone becomes the key component of play. Tilting it left or right just enough to get them moving is the difference between success and failure, otherwise known as drowning in a pool of green gunk.
In terms of balance, the accelerometer is pitched perfectly, movement always feeling entirely under your control, even when the levels are caked in slippery pig fat. Yes, Mega Millionaire isn’t afraid to steamroll right over convention in order to acclimatise itself with the South Park universe. Along the way, you’ll encounter grown men dressed up as rabbits, giant falling Japanese school girls in need of rescue, and rolling sticks of sushi heading towards you.
These peculiarities aside, passing each test sometimes requires more than picking up a token or two. For instance, you’ll be asked to serve four “old masters” cups of tea (naturally from a tea pot strapped to your head), or bash your head enough times to give you a concussion. These additional targets add an extra element or two to the standard play.
E Honda slap.
While there’s no clock to battle against, South Park Mega Millionaire is often a matter of leaping from ledge to ledge (via a swift tap to the iPhone’s screen) at pace. There are elements that relate back to platformers of old here. For instance, the impetus to pull off a set number of jumps at a set speed in order to avoid falling to your death really echoes the Sonic games of the early 90s. The fact that Real Networks has been able to apply this platforming 101 to the kind of lighthearted and off-the-wall approach South Park is known for is even more of an accomplishment.
But it can’t be denied that South Park Mega Millionaire feels a little short. While the bite-sized nature of the levels is part of the game’s appeal, the fact that there aren’t another 24 or so added on for good measure means this is the kind of challenge that can be met within an hour or two, if that. While the depth of play will surprise newcomers and the subtle hints at South Park humor will delight fans in equal measure, this isn’t quite the full package as it stands. But it certainly puts to bed any notion that licensed titles can’t be packed with quality in their own right.