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Pinball FX2: South Park Pinball
Score: 80%
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Zen Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Arcade/Classic/Retro/Online


Pinball FX2: South Park Pinball may have been doomed from the get-go. There are many things that you don't do. You don't hit on someone's wife. You don't drive the wrong way on the interstate. You don't bowdlerize something like South Park, no matter how pure your intentions are. Unfortunately, that's exactly what Zen Studios has done in Pinball FX2: South Park Pinball. Make no mistake: the quality of these two tables (from a purely pinball standpoint) is every bit as high as its counterparts, but as a South Park product, it doesn't work at all. It's almost as harmless and safe as an episode of Full House or She's the Sheriff. The pinball is fine, though!

Sheila Broflovski Wins:

Most people would agree that South Park's most powerful charm lies in its ability to straddle the line between the sweet innocence of childhood and the ugly realities of the adult world. And here we have Pinball FX2, a game that is primarily aimed at an all-ages audience. The two don't mix on the most fundamental of levels, and as a result, this is the weakest offering I think I've seen from Zen.

While everything featured in both tables ("Super Sweet Pinball" and "Butters' Very Own Pinball Game") contains nods and references to events that occurred in the show, nearly everything is culled out and sieved down into the most family-friendly fare you can think of. Take, for example, the sound design. The main theme by Primus is here in all its bizarre glory, but all of the voice clips taken from the show seem to have been picked at random. Think of your favorite quote from the show. Is it "Okay, children. I hope you've done your homework" or "Kenny would have done it?" No? How about "Okay," or "Right here, buddy?" It's this kind of stuff that comes dangerously close to betraying its subject matter. Luckily, there are plenty of references to at least give you the sense that there are a lot of South Park fans at Zen Studios.

What What WHAAAT?!:

If you can get past the neutralization of everything edgy in a South Park product, you'll enjoy your time with Pinball FX2: South Park Pinball. There are plenty of references to episodes focused on the main gang, as well as crowd favorite Leopold "Butters" Stotch. From an adventure with everyone's favorite Christmas Poo to the many incarnations of Butters (Professor Chaos, Marjorine, a Meheecan, etc.), mission design is solid and somewhat faithful.

And let's be frank, for a second: South Park Pinball certainly looks the part. The third dimension is reserved for the barest of minimums that allow you to actually perceive a pinball table. Anything that can possibly be flat and cardboard-colored is flat and cardboard-colored. So there's that, too.

A Qualified Victory:

Pinball FX2: South Park Pinball is a quality product that is unable to leverage its source material properly enough to make something completely faithful. Even if South Park: The Stick of Truth hadn't come along and pushed the boundaries of taste further than the show or even the film, something would still have been amiss in this downloadable game.

Again, I stress: if it's more Pinball FX2 you want, you can do no wrong with this release. However, if it's a South Park product you want, it's lacking in too many crucial areas to make it worth an unqualified recommendation.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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