How The Last Few Seasons Will Affect South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Season 17 of South Park aired its season finale four months prior to the release of South Park: The Stick of Truth. Season 18 aired its premiere about five months after the game's release. Season 20 just began airing last month. This means that three seasons of South Park will have aired between the release of Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, which is planned for release early next year. We spoke with Fractured But Whole’s creators at Ubisoft San Francisco to find out how all of those episodes will factor into the game.
You begin Fractured as the new kid, affectionately nicknamed "***" by Cartman on your first adventure, still caught up in the fantasy story. Cartman, however, has decided to change games, focusing now on super heroes, which means you have to start over. For this reason, Fractured takes place only a few days after the events of Stick of Truth, but a lot has happened in the show in that time.
When it comes to canon and where the games fit into the show’s timeline, there is no answer. Senior producer Jason Schroeder sums up South Park canon succinctly saying, "It doesn't matter. If [Matt and Trey] need it for the plot, that space exists." South Park is a show that manufactures what it needs episode to episode, ignoring the wider narrative ramifications for the sake of the joke. One of its main characters used to die in every episode, and still does from time to time. For this reason, you won’t find many narrative conceits for why entire buildings have suddenly appeared in the town, or how SoDoSoPa appeared and crumbled in just a few days.
That does not mean, however, that the game and the show exist in separate bubbles. The show does affect the game. "We were watching season 19, and I literally had the town map up and was like, 'S---, okay. I guess this is all moving here now,'” says, narrative designer Jolie Menzel. “I had to update the town map like every week on my physical map."
During our time at Ubisoft San Francisco, we saw many elements from the show’s last few seasons in the game. One of season 19’s core new characters, PC Principal, is in the game. “[Matt and Trey] really liked what they were doing with the gentrification stuff and the feeling of refreshing the town a bit. Having PC Principal as a character – there was always a question mark in their minds and in ours if he was sticking around,” Schroeder says. “There's still more stuff for him to say. There is still more of the American state of mind reflected in PC Principal.” Early on, it seemed he might be killed off, maybe even during his introductory episode. "I think they thought they were going to, but then they thought, 'One more joke, one more joke...'" Schroeder says.
Other elements of the gentrification of South Park storyline that will be in the game is the existence of SoDoSoPa, which is in the same shape as it was at the end of season 19. It will also be surrounding the McCormick’s house just as it did in the show. You won't find Whole Foods in the town, though. "There's no Whole Foods, because it flew off into space," Schroeder says.
Crunchy's bar-turned-microbrewery will be in the game, and it is where you will find PC Principal. We also saw Classi, and the requisite explanation of how to spell her name. It’s unclear exactly what roles PC Principal and Classi will play in the story, but we do know PC Principal will offer combat training, and Classi will have at least one task for you.
For more aspects of the recent seasons that have made it into Fractured But Whole, head to page two.
Season 19’s sixth episode, "Tweak x Craig," features those two characters as the subjects of yaoi art. Yaoi is a type of fan art that depicts romantic or sexual relationships exclusively between male characters. In the game, you will collect Tweak and Craig yaoi art, and Craig’s father, who has gotten into collecting the art as a hobby, will reward you as you build up your own collection. This is what you will collect in place of the Chinpokomon from the first game.
There were also a number of video game-focused episodes in season 18 that covered topics like YouTube personalities playing games online and virtual reality, which will have some bearing in Fractured But Whole. Cartman and other kids will video call you with missions or story moments, and they appear on-screen similar to how Cartman Brah did in the PewDiePie episode. The kids also played with the Oculus Rift in the episode "Grounded Vindaloop." "I have some Easter eggs for that. It's not really in the main story," says Menzel.
After 20 season of the show, there is lots of fertile ground for making callbacks and references, but Trey and Matt and the team at Ubisoft don’t want the game to turn into a Member Berries session. "Not without reason,” Menzel says about including callbacks to the show. “Trey's always going to say, 'Is there a reason we're making that reference?'"
When we were at the studio to check out the game, season 20 had not yet started, but Ubisoft is prepared for whatever the show might bring. Menzel says the game’s story is set, as is its ending, but things could change as the show airs. "We don't know what they're going to do. It really is a mystery to us.” Menzel says. “We're kind of hoping it's not as bombastic, but if it is, our game is built in such a way that we can kind of roll with those punches."
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