We got our first real bit of bad gaming news for 2017 last week when it was announced that South Park: The Fractured But Whole would be delayed. This marks the second time Ubisoft has delayed the title. According to this account is now expected to come out some time between April 2017 and March 2018. It’s definitely a bummer for South Park fans, as well as for everyone who loved 2014’s South Park: The Stick Of Truth. But perhaps gamers can take heart in the fact that it’s really just the latest in a long line of bizarre and unpredictable twists in South Park gaming.
After many years of dabbling with low-level arcade games and lazy ideas, the folks behind South Park broke into mainstream gaming in the early 2010s with a few unexpected titles. 2009’s South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play for Xbox Live Arcade also did fairly well, and marked the turning point between the aforementioned gaming failures and a sort of modern era of playable South Park success.
Next up was South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, another Xbox Live Arcade game that had mixed success. User reviews were pretty much 50/50, with some citing fun gameplay and amusing character content as reasons that it was an excellent game, and others pointing to poor level design and generic platformer concepts as negatives. Others still were annoyed that the game blatantly advertised other Xbox titles, given that the premise was Scott Tenorman (a bully from South Park) stealing the main characters’ hard drive, leading them to be concerned they’ll lose progress on several major Xbox games. It was amusing nevertheless and, for a Live Arcade download, pretty entertaining.
There was also a South Park slot machine game put out around this time, and though it fits into a niche genre, this site has it listed among several TV- and film-related games that can be found at online casinos. The gameplay here was limited to making bets, pushing a button, and watching the wheel spin. The thinking seemed to be that if any South Park fans out there happened to enjoy casino gaming, they might as well get to do it through a slot reel that involved characters and settings from the show. That made it a legitimate success within its genre.
But South Park really jumped up a notch in gaming with the release of South Park: The Stick Of Truth. As a full-fledged RPG built for high-end consoles, it was the most ambitious effort yet from the show’s creators. It was also a resounding success. Gamers loved the mix of clever gameplay and hilarious antics, to the point that many felt playing it was like living through a South Park plot line on your own.
Even if The Stick Of Truth was South Park’s biggest gaming hit when it came out in 2014, it had been plagued by pessimism. The project was announced out of nowhere and faced its own series of delays before finally making it to stores. But when it finally happened it seemed as if the extra time had served Ubisoft well. The game was huge, dense, and polished.
Considering this whole recent history of South Park in video games, the delay for The Fractured But Whole shouldn’t come as a huge shock or a disappointment. The South Park creators have proven to be extraordinarily unpredictable, whether by quietly releasing a themed slot arcade or exploding onto the console scene with a game-changing RPG. There have been other delays along the way as well, and as long as we don’t hear anything to indicate The Fractured But Whole may be in real jeopardy, we should assume they’re only making things better.