Every time a cow farts, somewhere a penguin dies. Seriously, it's true. Bovine bum-gas is one of the key factors in global warming, apparently, and is therefore melting the native habitat of Pingu and chums. Forget green taxes or carbon offsetting. If we really want to save the planet, we should round up all the cows and have an enormous barbecue.
The cows in South Park 10: The Game have their flatulence under control, thankfully, but they do have a big role to play.
RealArcade's new game celebrates ten years of South Park by gathering some of the most memorable characters and giving each a set of levels within the platform game. The cows – you may remember their death-cult suicide episode in season two of the show – get level two here, with other levels assigned to Scuzzlebutt, Starvin' Marvin, Butters Stotch, Lemmiwinks the gerbil, and Kenny in his Ninja Master Kenny persona.
Hardcore South Park fans will love the way this game doesn't take the obvious path of focusing on the main characters, but instead pulls out some of the favourite cameo characters from the show's history. More casual viewers? Well, maybe it'll inspire them to go back and check out the original episodes that the game is based on.
The core gameplay is roughly the same throughout the game. Each section – or 'season' – has three levels of platform action, whether it's rescuing South Park citizens, barricading doors against rampaging pensioners, or crawling round the bowels of an S&M slave looking for animal spirits (yes, it does help you get the joke if you've seen the original episode in some instances).
You can run left and right, jump up or drop down, and use the '5' key to perform actions, which can include everything from throwing hay or opening doors through to chucking shurikens (that'll be Ninja Kenny, then). The action is slick, and there's enough challenge to keep you from getting bored without it ever becoming too frustrating.
Dotted around each level are Cheesy Poof snacks. You don't need to collect them all to finish a level, but if you do get every one on each of the three levels in a season, you unlock a bonus level. The idea harks back to RealArcade's Turbo Camels: Circus Extreme, and it provides an incentive to play levels through again once you've completed the main game.
Visually, South Park 10 is just what you'd want from a South Park game – it's clear that a lot of craft has gone into making the characters and scenery look authentically shonky and half-arsed, as fans would expect. The sound is more of a let-down, restricted to retro bleeps and bloops.
RealArcade has thrown in some extra rewards to extend the game's lifetime even further. Completing all the seasons unlocks something fun (we don't want to spoil the surprise), while beating all the bonus levels unlocks a 'Mr Hankey Speedrun' mode, which when completed opens up a final surprise message.
At a time when branded mobile games can still be variable in quality, South Park 10: The Game stands out as something that truly does justice to the original show. If you're a South Park fan, you'll love it.