Monty Python's Flying Circus

Publisher: Virgin Games
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #66

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Ah yes, the Silly Six from the classic BBC comedy series, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and the other one [That's Graham Chapman - Ed]. The Python game concentrates on Palin's leading character, the loud dim-witted Gumby. During routine surgery, our hanky-wearing hero's brain made a break for it, splitting into four pieces and escaping into the surreal Monty Python cartoon world. Unless he can retrieve all parts of his brain, Gumby's dreams of becoming a chartered accountant are dashed.

There are four levels, one for each brain segment, and during them Gumby takes four different forms. As himself, he hops around platforms, but he also floats around mazes of pipes as Gumbyfish, through the skies as Gumbybird and, in bonus rooms, is just a head on springy foot.

Wherever and whatever he is, he has a limitless supply of fish to throw/fire at his adversaries, which include dead parrots, vikings on wheels, Silly Walk ministers and flying feet. Fired fish can also activate switches and destroy cheese blocks, often revealing energy-giving food or tins of Spam. If Gumby reaches the end of the level with sixteen tins, he's rewarded with a piece of brain.

Monty Python's Flying Circus

In the Amiga version, there's a simple interpretation of the Argument Sketch between levels. Gumby faces John Cleese who says "No it isn't!" and "Yes it is!" at random, the words appearing in speech bubbles to his left or right. Gumby must disagree with him using his own no/yes bubbles, each disagreement earning bonus points.


And now for something not particularly different. As a Monty Python fan I'm disappointed with the game. Sure it's got a lot of zany humour and the graphics are a fair imitation of Terry Gilliam's surreal animations, if a bit blocky on the C64.

But let's face it, the game plays like a dead parrot - either that or it's pining for the fjords. Shooting a stream of nasties one by one is even more repetitive than the spam song. This, with the lack of a time limit, reduces the pace of the game to a very silly walk indeed.

Monty Python's Flying Circus

The Amiga's cartoon interludes and hilarious argument and regurgitation scenes go some way to make up for the lack of gameplay variety. But at its best the game is only mildly amusing; at worst just plain silly.


Monty Python is pretty disappointing [Yes, Warren, but why? - Ed]. Blimey, I knew I had to give my opinion but I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisi - *Nobody* expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our key weapon is fear - fear and surprise! Ah - our *two* key weapons are fear, surprise and ruthlessness! Er, our *three*... Ahem.

Sprites represent characters from the series in a pleasing if blocky manner, Gumby himself particularly well designed. And although short on detail, backgrounds are authentic too. Sound is duff on the C64 but the Amiga's TV samples are amusing.

Gameplay's the problem, though: Monty Python's just a very ordinary, simplistic shoot-'em-up. Attack waves are dull, hopelessly predictable, and lining up cheeseblock after cheeseblock is pretty mind-numbing; Monty Python is pining for some playability.

Verdict (C64)

Presentation 56%
Bland title and high score screens, 'silly' low score gimmick and multi-loaded levels, but mildly amusing instructions and Cheeselock protection system.

Graphics 65%
Jerky push-scroll, flat backdrops but good, Pythonesque sprites.

Sound 37%
Choose between a repetitive, irritating rendition of the TV theme tune or some old-fashioned effects.

Hookability 60%
Initial interest due to the TV series immediately dampened by the game's simplistic nature.

Lastability 41%
Only four levels and with the first so easy to complete, it won't last long. But then, with play this drab neither will you.

Overall 47%
Another TV licence falls on its face.

Verdict (Amiga)

Presentation 82%
C64 features plus 'cartoon' intermission screens, brief sketches and interlevel Argument game.

Graphics 74%
Both sprites and backgrounds are authentic Python but this means the latter are dully coloured. Scrolling is a touch jerky.

Sound 60%
Passable rendition of TV title music, a few silly sound effects and some amusing, if unclear, vocal samples.

Hookability 67%
Sketches and cartoons add interest to the basic shoot-'em-up gameplay.

Lastability 50%
More challenging than the C64 version and the Argument Sketch adds a little variety. Ultimately a small, repetitive game.

Overall 57%
Graphics and sound capture the spirit of the TV series but gameplay doesn't match up.