South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! ReviewBy Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Oct 12, 2009
First announced in a teaser video during Microsoft's E3 press conference in 2008, South Park's exclusive Xbox Live Arcade debut offered more questions than answers. The surprising result is a variant on tower defense strategy games. Despite some drawbacks, Tower Defense Play is a solid entry for South Park fans new to this type of strategy game.
- Four-player cooperative campaign
- Fast-paced, frantic action
- Authentic voiceovers from the show
- Static outdoor levels lack pizzazz
- Only two game variants
- Interface is too clumsy for single-player enjoyment
First announced in a teaser video during Microsoft's E3 press conference in 2008, South Park's exclusive Xbox Live Arcade debut offered more questions than answers. Would it be a four-player brawler a la Castle Crashers? A first-person shooter in the vein of Acclaim's South Park on Nintendo 64? A graphic adventure filled with ribald jokes and profanity? The surprising result is a variant on tower defense strategy games. Yes, the developers are, as the show's version of Al Gore might say, "super duper serial."
Gameplay involves building a series of upgradeable towers (out of eight possible variants) to eliminate waves of enemies trying to reach one or more exits. Each enemy that successfully reaches an exit automatically takes away a portion of the town's health until it reaches zero, at which point the game ends. The key difference with Tower Defense Play is that you directly control one of four on-screen characters, who each function like a mobile tower that pelts enemies with snowballs. Standard snowballs are fast but do minimal damage, while holding down the throw button lets you toss more powerful, urine-soaked snowballs. Each character also has a distinct special move and is individually rated in four categories: speed, throwing range, throw rate, and damage.
The humor shines through the characters' constant, though repetitious, phrases and musings as well as the types of enemies you'll encounter, which range from change-chanting homeless people to Cartman's carnivorous Christmas critters. Levels are introduced by the owner of City Wok, Tuong Lu Kim, in his stereotypical, broken English accent, and you'll be able to unlock short video clips of the enemies and characters you'll encounter for viewing within an in-game scrapbook. The heart of the game is the 11-level campaign, which is playable by yourself or with three other friends, locally or online. Also included are seven challenge stages with some interesting layouts.
Tower of Terror?
The single-player game can be difficult on even the "normal" setting, primarily because it's a pain to switch between all four characters to position them, trigger their special powers, and collect coins (they will automatically fire snowballs when in range of enemies, but they won't move to collect the much-needed money to build or upgrade towers). Since certain waves of creatures, such as gnomes and crab people, move quickly, it's not easy to manage the battlefield by yourself. Obviously it’s not a problem during multiplayer games, which is ideally how Tower Defense Play should be approached. With friends, the normal difficulty setting is a cakewalk, so the enjoyment comes from the frantic action offered by the hard and insane difficulty settings.
A minor gripe for solo players is the inability to save on individual stages, forcing you to continue playing until you reach the next level. Another annoyance is that the game doesn't offer the option to restart a level with your last "good" configuration, so if you've sailed through nine out of ten waves only to lose near the end, you have to remember your exact tower placement and/or maze layout and start from scratch. The interface is also a little awkward. You have to horizontally scroll through your building options, so it's easy to accidentally build a tower instead of a desired wall. While you can destroy any erected tower and convert it to coins, there's not much time to fix mistakes.
Plays Well With Others
Though there are only two game types (campaign and challenge), Tower Defense Play includes a total of 15 characters, from the endearing Butters to the annoying Tweek. Sadly, once you've mastered the higher difficulty levels, there's no real point in revisiting the stages over again unless you want to improve your score. There's no persistent, in-depth stat tracking system or random enemy waves that would have encouraged you to keep playing or experimenting with different characters. Despite some drawbacks, Tower Defense Play is a solid entry for South Park fans new to this type of strategy game. As the wise Cartman once said, "The first law of physics is that anything that's fun costs at least eight dollars." At ten dollars or 800 points, Tower Defense Play reinforces Cartman's science theory, but only for those planning on enjoying it with friends.