When Oscar Wilde wrote “life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” I don’t think he was thinking about South Park or Hello Kitty. But the quote resonates today, because recently, an old meme from the animated show appears to be the basis of the name of the new game Hello Kitty Island Adventure.
In a 2006 episode of South Park, Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny seek revenge on a World of Warcraft troll. In order to kill the troll, the four rally the support of kids from their school and Cartman hatches a plan for the group to team up, meet the malicious player in the woods of Azeroth, and defeat them.
The boys are shouting out their call to victory in unison, when Butters naively interjects, “I don’t play World of Warcraft,” to which Cartman responds, “Butters, you said you are on your computer all the time.” Butters then says, “yeah, but I’m playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure.”
At the time, this game didn’t exist. And according to the database Moby Games, no game has been released with the name. Instead it served as a joke, presumably to make fun of Butters for playing a “girly” game instead of World of Warcraft.
The fake game went on to inspire memes and even practical jokes from Sanrio. In 2008, a post from the official Sanrio blog shared an April Fools’ Day announcement for a new MMO Hello Kitty Online expansion pack called “Hello Kitty Island Adventure.” In the announcement, developers said the expansion pack would be, “the first expansion pack in gaming history that will reduce rather than expand an existing game world,” and featured a premise similar to the television show Lost.
An audio clip of the conversation between Cartman and Butters has also served as the basis for a TikTok audio meme. Users have used the meme in different ways, but a popular trend arose where people would make jokes about playing dress up in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom or playing the Sims.
Then, on June 27, the meme became a real game. The video game studio Sunblink, along with Sanrio, announced a new life sim and adventure game called Hello Kitty Island Adventure for iOS devices via Apple Arcade. Based on the short trailer, the game looks cute as hell. It appears to pair exploration with classic life-sim elements like designing characters and homes, along with exploring the island. The game oozes the adorable charm of Sanrio creature characters and places them in cheery island environments. It will launch on July 28.
It’s not clear why the developers would decide to call back the old joke now, nor has the team confirmed the connection between the new game and South Park. Polygon reached out to Sunblink to ask about the title of the game and confirm if the name was inspired by South Park and we will update this article as we hear back.