South Park: Phone Destroyer soft launched a little over a week ago now, providing South Park fans in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway with their ideal card battler.
I've put a little time into the game's early stages for the benefit of those of you who aren't living in Nordic bliss.
Being only casually familiar with both South Park and CCGs, I went into the game with pretty neutral expectations, but came away quietly impressed.
South Park: The CCG
The name South Park: Phone Destroyer might hint at a mindless tapper or some kind of action game, but it's actually a bright and breezy (though definitely not kid-friendly) casual card battler, but with live automated battles.
You must assemble a deck of cards from random loot drops and campaign success, then continue to modify those cards using the game's various currencies and consumables.
At the heart of all this is the game's battle system, which sees you spawning unique units to the left of the screen, which automatically move right and attack opposing units. Take out the opposing general (in multiplayer) or boss card (in the single player campaign) to win.
Essentially it's yet another take on the Clash Royale template, but with a couple of tweaks - for both better and worse.
Respect Clash Royale's authoritah
The key mechanical difference between Clash Royale and South Park: Phone Destroyer is that the action is size-on and isn't restricted to two lanes as in Supercell's game.
On the plus side, this gives battles a free-wheeling, old-school scrolling beat-'em-up vibe that's much more interesting to look at. This is aided by each unit's special abilities, which you need to activate manually at the appropriate moment.
On the downside, battles here are frequently chaotic. Bunch half a dozen or more characters together and it becomes impossible to follow what's going on or who's 'winning' until the bodies start to drop.
It makes you realise the wisdom of Supercell's seemingly restrictive approach from a pure tactical perspective.
They killed Inuit Kenny!
Still, South Park: Phone Destroyer has a sense of personality and vibrancy that no other Clash Royale wannabe - or indeed Clash Royale itself - can match.
There's an amusingly daft (and dependably un-PC) story - smartly told through the premise of a group chat - underpinning it all concerning a Cowboys vs Indians play fight between Stan, Cartman and co. Needless to say it swiftly descends into farce, dragging in unrelated factions (such as pirates) and familiar support character alike.
The idea of the South Park characters role-playing in this way makes perfect sense, and the way the game handles each unit's reveal - like Kenny the Inuit and Pirate Ship Timmy - will be a major driver for fans of the series.
In my brief experience, the game's PvP mode seems to be simpler and less entertaining than the single player campaign, which may impact the game's longevity somewhat. But South Park fans willing to embrace a more chaotic brand of CCG probably won't care a jot.