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South Park: Tenorman's Revenge Review

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Tenorman's Revenge would merely be another bland, unremarkable licensed video game were it not so fundamentally atrocious at its core.

Somewhere in between my roughly dozenth try at one of South Park: Tenorman's Revenge's later-game levels and the soul-crushing realization that I had nowhere near enough "time cores" to unlock the next level--not because I had been lazy about collecting them, but because that was the developer's intent all along--I tapped out. I gave up. I threw in the pot-smoking towel and said "no more."

There are pieces of Tenorman's Revenge that could potentially make for a good South Park game...

This is not something I like to do very often. Even the worst games often have the potential somewhere within them to eventually do something cool (even if they rarely ever make good on that potential), and it's always struck me as unfair to judge a game until you've seen at least a taste of everything it has to offer. It takes a special kind of haphazardly designed junk to get me to throw down my controller out of frustration and outright hatred, and South Park: Tenorman's Revenge is such a game. Unless the endgame of Tenorman's Revenge suddenly repairs its busted controls, atrociously laggy netcode, and straight-up awful level design, I have a hard time imagining anything positive coming out of whatever chunk of this game remained untested by my hands.

I'm not sure why it's so remarkably difficult to turn South Park into a playable game. Other developers have tried and failed many times over, though Tenorman's Revenge deserves a special place in Hell for its outright butchering of the material. Things start out promisingly enough, with an opening preamble from an elder of the hyper-intelligent sea otters featured in the "Go God Go" episode describing Eric Cartman's sort of epic battle with noted ginger and accidental cannibal Scott Tenorman. Through this animated intro, we learn of Tenorman's plot for revenge, which includes stealing Cartman's Xbox 360 hard drive, and also unleashing hordes of ginger-haired robots on the world. The animation of this stuff immediately pops out as a positive point, doing a fine job of emulating the look and feel of the show. Unfortunately, that's the only thing developer Other Ocean Interactive got right.

Tenorman's Revenge is not funny. Not even a little bit. Even the worst licensed games usually find some way to tap into the core appeal of what people like about the thing that's been licensed, but the way Tenorman's Revenge tries to emulate South Park's sense of humor is by mailing it in with a bunch of lazily tossed together references. Hey, remember Mr. Hankey? Manbearpig? Towelie? They're all there, and you're supposed to laugh at them...um, being there? I guess? I can only assume this because there aren't any jokes here. Sometimes Cartman says something about Kenny's poor family. Sometimes Cartman makes a crack about Jews. Sometimes Cartman says "motherfucker." These are the things that you're theoretically supposed to chuckle at, but you don't, because they're not funny. They're badly timed, completely lazy, and frankly so overly familiar that you can't help but wonder if the developers wrote this script purely based on whatever South Park clips have the most hits on YouTube.

Without a solid story to care about or at least jokes to laugh at, Tenorman's Revenge is forced to rely on its gameplay to hook players in. This is borderline tragic for a couple of reasons. First off, this is a platformer in which the jump button does not work properly. Yes, it does make you jump, but it does so with just the slightest hint of delay, and features such floaty, bizarre physics that it's damn near impossible to land on any platform that's even a little bit awkwardly placed without multiple tries. I could see this being acceptable if Tenorman's Revenge were a relatively straightforward, no-frills platformer that mostly involved running to the right and occasionally jumping on bad guys, but this is not the case. If anything, Tenorman's Revenge is a convoluted nightmare of alternate paths, constantly moving platforms, endless collectables, and gobs and gobs of bad guys that like to spawn right on top of your head.

...but badly designed levels, shoddy controls, and a ludicrously awful campaign progression kill this game dead.

I'm not really sure what Other Ocean was going for here. There are glimmers of other classic platformers from the 8- and 16 bit eras here, so one can surmise that the idea here was to craft something that felt "old school" challenging. A delightful notion, except for the fact that the best games of that era demanded perfection while also providing you controls that felt correct for the challenges at hand. The lackluster control mechanics of Tenorman's Revenge aren't merely inadequate, they work aggressively against you. And then you have all these ginger robots to contend with. They're not overly difficult on their own, but they're hardly ever on their own. The game tosses piles of them (again, sometimes directly over top of your head) and expects you to somehow balance jumping on their heads over and over again without accidentally landing somewhere close to another one without getting hit. Fun fact: that never happens. The best bet is to use one of the few random weapons often floating around the world, though that gets pretty dull pretty fast.

Instead, whatever character you choose is beaten, pummeled, dunked in acid, dunked in human pee, and whatever the hell else over and over again until you just can't take it anymore. What makes it even more insulting is that the boss fights that come after all this abuse and torment are insipidly easy. Every boss I ran into operated on lazy, easy-to-recognize patterns and required only a modicum of effort to defeat. All that effort for so little payoff is just brutal on top of brutal. It's like surviving horrible trial after horrible trial just to survive, and then finding out all you have to do is kick a handicapped person in the shins to move forward.

That is, of course, assuming you've collected enough time cores to do so. Time cores are the game's currency for progress. If you collect enough, you can just move straight on to the next stage. If you haven't, you're stuck going back and replaying earlier levels until you have enough. The issue isn't really that lack of exploration ensures you won't find enough of them. In fact, you can explore all you want, but if you're playing solo, or frankly with anything less than four total players, you're hosed, because several cores in every level are hidden behind character-specific sections. You see, each character has a couple of unique abilities that let them do things like bust through walls (via Cartman's stomach) or jump really high, because apparently Kenny can do that. There are also bits that allow specific characters to turn into the superhero versions of themselves (The Coon, Mysterion, and so forth). Again, if you are playing solo, that means you will have to play through multiple levels multiple times as at least two or three different kids in order to collect more time cores.

So, here's the thing about this. This is always a terrible design decision. Always. I don't care how good your core gameplay is. If you have to force players to go back through your game multiple times over just to get to the later levels, you have fucked things up beyond any measure of repair. It's fairly obvious that Other Ocean paid no real mind to the notion that people would roll through Tenorman's Revenge with less than three friends at all times. The co-op has no easy drop-in/drop-out functionality, and playing solo ensures that you'll have to repeat levels a minimum of two more times just to get enough time cores to succeed. It's even worse because often the cores are hidden behind a 30 second side-section of a level that you haven't seen before, ensuring that 99% of what you're slogging through is something you've already done (and probably hated) before.

Good games inspire you to go back and play them again because they're fun. Tenorman's Revenge forces you to replay levels to even progress.

As if Tenorman's Revenge weren't already enough of a cruel joke, the co-op doesn't even work particularly well. Online, the netcode is a disaster. Players seemed to randomly drop in and out, and lag made the already unwieldy jumping controls about a thousand times worse. Offline co-op negates the lag, but it still suffers from the other fundamental issue: the camera. The developers tried to rectify the absurd amount of zoom required to fit all characters on screen by having players off-camera for too long respawn next to whoever is further along, but it's only half a fix. The camera still zooms out way too much, and does so in kind of a chuggy way that sometimes leaves your character and the pit/enemy/laser beam/whatever else in front of them totally obscured. It's a recipe for accidental death in a game that's already an accidental death smorgasbord.

Maybe my inability to soldier on through this half-busted garbage to its laborious conclusion puts an asterisk on this review for you. I don't mind, because I'm comfortable with my decision to abandon this thing in favor of doing literally anything else with my time. I'm comfortable with the notion that a game can be so fundamentally busted that there is no point in continuing on past the point of peak frustration. I'm comfortable in saying that South Park: Tenorman's Revenge is a gigantic middle-finger extended in the direction of anyone who might actually want to enjoy a game featuring the myriad memorable characters and storylines of South Park in video game form. And because of all of that, I'm completely comfortable declaring that you should stay the hell away from South Park: Tenorman's Revenge.

Alex Navarro on Google+
134 Comments
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Edited by joshth

This isn't suprising

Posted by Mijati

The burning question here: Alex, when are you getting more "art" for your review scores? As you're full time GB now surely it's about time you had your own set of "avatars" to reflect your review scores.

Posted by Voxus

So a RPG South Park game isn't good? I am astonished.

Posted by Napalm

I chuckled really hard when I see that Alex reviewed this. For god's sake people, give him a decent game to review!

Posted by Milkman

@DarkDude said:

The burning question here: Alex, when are you getting more "art" for your review scores? As you're full time GB now surely it's about time you had your own set of "avatars" to reflect your review scores.

Jeff has said for a while now that they plan on getting rid of the reviewer art. I would think after the next site re-design, those will all be gone.

Posted by Hot_Karl
@0blivion This isn't an RPG. Nice try though.
Posted by itspizza

@DarkDude said:

The burning question here: Alex, when are you getting more "art" for your review scores? As you're full time GB now surely it's about time you had your own set of "avatars" to reflect your review scores.

I think they are changing the site soon, and they have been hinting that the artwork is going to go away for quite some time.

Edited by Grissefar

Dear Alex,

You've made a spelling error, as the towel from South Park is actually spelled Towelie, not Towely. Really unfortunate error there, man.

Posted by Alex

@Grissefar: OH GOD MY CAREER.

Staff
Posted by Animasta

shitty cartoon equals shitty game, who knew!

but yeah this game seemed super bad in the QL, even worse than the show which is saying something considering how much I hate south park :P

Posted by mosdl

@VinceNotVance said:

@0blivion This isn't an RPG. Nice try though.

RPG - really poopie game perhaps

Posted by Winternet

@Alex said:

@Grissefar: OH GOD MY CAREER.

Flagged.

In all seriousness, it's been a while since Alex reviewed a 1-star game. Thought they were going easy on him.

Posted by forkboy

God. Poor Alex seems to get lumped with the utter turds quite often.

Damn shame there will probably never be a South Park game worth playing really, I mean I even have found nostalgic memories of the N64 first person shooter despite the fact that it was kind of crummy

Online
Posted by JacDG

@Napalm said:

I chuckled really hard when I see that Alex reviewed this. For god's sake people, give him a decent game to review!

He reviewed Journey didn't he? Seemed he quite liked that one, I agree though, he tends to get stuck with all the crap, maybe he likes the abuse, lol.

Posted by Twinsun

@Animasta: Nice trolling there, good luck with that.

Posted by shakesvoltage

I always like Alex's reviews. Dude never bullshits me.

Posted by iAmJohn

@forkboy said:

God. Poor Alex seems to get lumped with the utter turds quite often.

Damn shame there will probably never be a South Park game worth playing really, I mean I even have found nostalgic memories of the N64 first person shooter despite the fact that it was kind of crummy

I love the South Park N64 shooter. Between the endless fog despite the simplistic visuals, the constantly respawning enemies and the baffling snap that the aiming has, it's terrible in an inexplicable way that I can't help but love and love playing and spazzing out with. The fact that I was nine when it came out also probably helps.

Edited by Grissefar

@Winternet said:

@Alex said:

@Grissefar: OH GOD MY CAREER.

Flagged.

In all seriousness, it's been a while since Alex reviewed a 1-star game. Thought they were going easy on him.

Letting him stay in New York for forever, I think they are. Anyway, really pleased with the reply. That rarely happens on Giant Bomb unless you take a giant shit on the author and make first comment so thanks for that, Alex.

Posted by sixpin

@Alex said:

@Grissefar: OH GOD MY CAREER.

It has been nice reading your posts, Alex. I would like to wish you well with whatever your future endeavors may bring.

Edited by WillyFourEyes
Posted by iAmJohn

@Twinsun said:

@Animasta: Nice trolling there, good luck with that.

South Park has ping-ponged between kind of funny I guess and viciously unfunny since Season 10, and has almost never ascended beyond that. Fact.

Posted by Mento

I get the sneaking suspicion Alex chooses to review the worst games as a way to get rid of all his pent-up vitriol, lest it spill out into the real world in the form of a killing spree. These reviews are doing a service to more than just us curious game enthusiasts.

Moderator
Posted by stalefishies

Normally, Wolpaw's Law seems like a total cop-out, but, having watched the quick look for this game...yeeeah. Fair enough.

Posted by Draxyle

I knew this would be an Alex review just by the game and the score.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

@iAmJohn: I do wonder why The Simpsons is constantly criticized for "not being funny anymore" and South Park mostly avoids the same complaints. Neither of them are funny anymore.

Posted by Yummylee

@Napalm said:

I chuckled really hard when I see that Alex reviewed this. For god's sake people, give him a decent game to review!

Alex reviewed Journey very recently, and also was the reviewer for Saints Row The Third. I think it's evenly split with which games he reviews. You've got the reviews there to actually inform, then there's the 1 star reviews that are primarily here for entertainment value I think. And because without a video presence, Alex gotta push out as much written stuff as he can. Given that Alex is my favourite writer of the lot, I can manage :P.

I'm willing to bet that deep down, somewhere behind the black crust that has formed around his heart, Alex actually enjoys playing through the shit. He's been doing it for so long now, and I've noticed how reviewing the bottom of the barrel often allows a lot more flexibility and humour to be mixed in to the writing. It's why I sometimes like to reread over the 0 star reviews on screened.com

Online
Edited by MikkaQ

Jesus, you know it's bad when Alex evokes Wolpaw's law. The man has an iron constitution for all things awful.

Posted by Korolev

Well, considering the fine games developed previously by Other Ocean - Storyhour Adventure, not one but TWO parody games (dark void zero and that spoof of CoD that Bulletstorm marketers released), and an NCIS game, I can confidently say that they are maintaining their unique brand of quality with this release.

Posted by President_Barackbar

Is this the first invocation of Wolpaw's Law on GB? I think it is. So sorry you had to play this shit Alex.

Online
Posted by Phatmac

Yeah, not surprised by this score at all. Will be avoiding this game at all costs.

Posted by MildMolasses

I'm wondering if the seeming shoddiness of this game was an indication of this being a rush job to fulfill contractual obligations to Microsoft? They had a 2 game contract with them,and presumably until those two games were complete they would not be able to release any other games.In the interest of actually being able to release that Obsidian game they rushed this out, and now they don't owe Microsoft anything and don't have anything potentially blocking their paths down the line

Online
Posted by Bestostero

moo :(

Posted by Toug

In the Quick Look, I noticed the presence of "Cheesy Poofs" really early in, which is a pretty good barometer for a South Park reference made with little thought of what anyone finds funny about South Park.

Posted by SuperSambo

@President_Barackbar said:

Is this the first invocation of Wolpaw's Law on GB? I think it is. So sorry you had to play this shit Alex.

I think Dante's Inferno applied that principle as well due to Ryan being stuck at the end.

Edited by iAmJohn

@SuperSambo said:

@President_Barackbar said:

Is this the first invocation of Wolpaw's Law on GB? I think it is. So sorry you had to play this shit Alex.

I think Dante's Inferno applied that principle as well due to Ryan being stuck at the end.

No, Ryan ended up beating that part he was stuck in during the video off-camera.

Posted by darkjester74

Is it just me, or does Alex always seem to pull the shit game assignments?

Posted by qawsed

Alex isn't alone in not finishing it. Of the 135 people in the achievement tracker, exactly 0 have finished the last level, and only 8 have gotten halfway.

Posted by Landon

@0blivion said:

So a RPG South Park game isn't good? I am astonished.

This isn't the RPG, this is a dumb platformer.

Posted by CharAznable

This is why Alex is one of the best in the biz, folks.

I apologize for saying "biz," too.

Posted by Brendan

@stalefishies said:

Normally, Wolpaw's Law seems like a total cop-out, but, having watched the quick look for this game...yeeeah. Fair enough.

How is a "law" a cop-out? It seems like only super-fans of a game that a critic hates would say something like that.

Posted by SoothsayerGB

They should have sicked Alex on the Kinect Star Wars game! That would have been sweet!

Posted by N7

Sometimes I feel bad for Alex, for reviewing these crap games. Then I remember, just because he doesn't review everything, doesn't mean he doesn't PLAY anything. Hopefully you get some good games injected into your system soon, Alex.

Online
Posted by EuanDewar

@iAmJohn said:

@SuperSambo said:

@President_Barackbar said:

Is this the first invocation of Wolpaw's Law on GB? I think it is. So sorry you had to play this shit Alex.

I think Dante's Inferno applied that principle as well due to Ryan being stuck at the end.

No, Ryan ended up beating that part he was stuck in during the video off-camera.

D'ya mean this bit or did he get stuck again?

Posted by ShaggE

The real crime here is that people can't read (or look at pictures, apparently), and so the South Park RPG will no doubt suffer in sales, regardless of quality.

Posted by brownsfantb

I played the free trial part of the game and didn't find it too offensively bad. But, I couldn't imagine playing this by myself for too long. A Friday night with 3 friends would be better but I probably won't even bother doing that.

Posted by ildon

@Brendan said:

@stalefishies said:

Normally, Wolpaw's Law seems like a total cop-out, but, having watched the quick look for this game...yeeeah. Fair enough.

How is a "law" a cop-out? It seems like only super-fans of a game that a critic hates would say something like that.

It's a cop-out because game reviewers are supposed to suffer for our amusement.

Posted by Undeadpool

This is the man who played that XBox Robocop game AND 18-Wheeler. And he gave up. This game MIGHT be the most destructive force ever released!

Posted by iAmJohn

@EuanDewar said:

@iAmJohn said:

@SuperSambo said:

@President_Barackbar said:

Is this the first invocation of Wolpaw's Law on GB? I think it is. So sorry you had to play this shit Alex.

I think Dante's Inferno applied that principle as well due to Ryan being stuck at the end.

No, Ryan ended up beating that part he was stuck in during the video off-camera.

D'ya mean this bit or did he get stuck again?

Yeah, that's the one. He eventually beat that off-camera. He either talked about it in the Bombcast from the week after that video went up or in the review itself, I don't remember which.

Posted by Phoenix87

I would give a 1 star rating to the current season of south park as well.

Posted by ApertureSilence

@0blivion said:

So a RPG South Park game isn't good? I am astonished.

Ahaha. Way to not even glance at the review you're trolling.

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