It takes six days to create an episode of South Park. The video game has taken three years. Plagued by delays, The Stick Of Truth is finally out today, but is Matt Stone happy?
No, because it’s been censored in Europe. A total of seven scenes involving abortion and anal probing have been removed, which gives you some indication of just how far he and Trey Parker have gone to ensure you – in the words of the theme song – have yourself a time.
‘We weren’t going to change the content, so we’ve written little cards to explain what is going on, what they’ve censored, and made a joke out of it,’ says Stone.
‘We’re talking about 30 or 40 seconds out of the whole experience but we wanted people to know exactly where the line was: this is what you couldn’t see but for some reason the rest of the world could and we have no idea why. It’s not cool – it’s lame, ridiculous and stupid.’
The Stick Of Truth features an original script from Stone and Parker, as well as their familiar voices. The quiet mountain town has been faithfully recreated and you play a kid caught up in a medieval game of dressing-up that grows more and more outlandish.
Fans of the show will know the game is loosely linked to the recent Black Friday trilogy that parodies Game Of Thrones and the infamous Thanksgiving shopping day sales in the US known to cause mall stampedes.
‘Black Friday is kind of an American thing but I know Brits now have it and it’s the worst f***ing thing in the world,’ says Stone.
‘It’s a self-perpetuating machine. You can see it’s started off in England as a joke and that carries into the media. Then the joke becomes less of a joke, and then you forget the fact it started out as a f***ing joke, and then half the country will be doing it.
‘It’s the worst, dude, it’s f***ing horrible. Anyway, so we did a Black Friday concept that feeds into the game and it was fun doing a proper Game Of Thrones parody too.’
That parody includes Stone and Parker’s own version of the Game Of Thrones theme tune – called the Weiner Song – poking fun at the show’s apparent fascination with flaccid members.
‘We might put out the Weiner Song,’ says Stone. ‘Maybe we should do a soundtrack for the game. I never thought of that, there’s a lot of good music in there.’
The pair are self-confessed video game nuts and, although there have been South Park games before, Stone admits to being embarrassed about them.
‘We really didn’t want to make a game that sucks,’ he says. ‘There were some South Park games, like, 15 years ago but they were just cheap licensed products and we hated them, frankly.
‘The limitations of the consoles didn’t work for us and that’s why we didn’t do one for a long time. The Stick Of Truth started when we figured out: “Oh, you can actually replicate the look of South Park on an Xbox, and wow you can walk around like you do on the show.”
‘It’s a great way to be introduced to the world of South Park: become a character and let that character grow, like a Grand Theft Auto situation.
‘So it was a really smart idea… until we figured out we had to write seven million lines of dialogue, which was a bit of a shock. It’s been so different to make something over three years instead of a week.
‘We write jokes, and the jokes are funny. With a game, the fourth, fith, sixth, 80th, 100 millionth time you’ve seen that joke it becomes not funny, then you lose faith in it, and then you question it, and you go round this emotional circle.
‘We’ve always liked fresh-baked stuff a little better but, with a video game, it doesn’t work that way. But the game isn’t just a collection of funny South Park scenes, hopefully it’s more than that.’
Funnies include one character armed with ‘the power of diabetes’, while a player’s score, or power points, are abbreviated to sound like ‘pee pee’.
From pee pee to the inevitable poo jokes, where main character Eric Cartman – or The Grand Wizard as he’s known here – has the ability to fart fire.
‘Unfortunately, we just love poo jokes and we’re never going to get over it,’ says Stone. ‘If the day does come when we are sick of them, then there’s always a slightly more mature poo joke you can make.’
If it all sounds a bit juvenile (clue: it is), don’t forget the pair won nine Tony Awards for stage production The Book Of Mormon.
‘Trey, [songwriter] Bobby Lopez and I worked on it for four years and had way more than half of it written before deciding whether it was a film or a stage project,’ says Stone.
‘It was such a cool experience to come up with the medium after the idea. I grew an appreciation for theatre and working with geniuses, basically.’
Parker even received an Oscar nomination for the song Blame Canada which featured in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. He took Stone as his date, the pair wore dresses and dropped acid for the ceremony, which is probably why you didn’t see them anywhere near LA’s Dolby Theatre last week.
‘I don’t think they’ll invite us back even if we do a really good movie,’ says Stone. ‘The organisers would be like: no f***ing way, dude.
‘I think we’ll make a movie: we don’t have a strong idea of what we want to do but we’ve done movies, theatre and now a video game. Film comedy is where we came from, and I feel like we’re film-makers but we’re also gluttons for punishment so we’ll keep doing other stuff and learning from scratch.’
South Park: The Stick Of Truth is out today.