Sinclair User16th July 1990
Published in Sinclair User #104
Monty Python's Flying Circus
And now for something completely different! It's hard to imagine for an oldie like me, who was brought up on the zany antics of the Monty Python team, but some readers might not even be aware of classic comedy sketches like The Cheeseshop, The Dead Parrot, Argument, and Mr Gumby Goes Flower Arranging.
But even if you haven't seen the TV series, starring John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and all the other Pythons, you must have heard of the movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. No? Well get the Python vids out of the shop and stop wasting my time!
Quite why it's taken 20 years for anyone to come up with a Python computer game, I dunno, but thank goodness they've done a good job of it; programmers Core Design obviously have a superlative knowledge of cheesey comestibles as well as a fair acquaintance with programming techniques. The animation is smooth, the backgrounds colourful without becoming messy, the design both authentic and rather silly, and there's enough gameplay to keep you engrossed even if you don't know what the hell's going on.
After correctly identifying a number of cheeses using the Cheeselok program protection system, you get into the so-called 'game' itself, which is more fun than a large barrel of salted herring.
Mr D P Gumby, well-known idiot and flower-arranger, has lost his brain, split into four parts during routine surgery. The four parts of the brain are now doing well - three are members of the Buzz Aldrin Formation Dance troupe, the fourth is a film by Ken Russell. But Gumby needs them back if he is to achieve his ambition to be a chartered accountant, so he searches for them through four levels of insanity.
Closely based on the Terry Gilliam animations which "linked" the Python sketches, each level is full of Python jokes, hand trees, flying pigs, Eric the Half a Bee, flying sheep, killer cars, traffic bollards and, most importantly, Spam. Gumby has to collect all the tins of Spam on each level before progressing to the next; some of the tins are hidden behind blocks which he can destroy by firing fish at them (yes, it's a bit silly.)
At the end of each level, the amount of Spam, Sausages, Spam, Eggs, Spam, Beans and Spam is counted up for bonus points, which are taken away from your score (which starts at 99,999,999, and goes down to 0). Each level also has hidden exits which lead into bonus screens. You also get the equivalent of "end-of-level-guardians" which dance around disconcertingly while you try to zap them.
Is it silly? Yes. Is it a good game? Yes. Is Cardinal Biggies due for a spell in the Comfy Chair? Almost certainly.
A fine piece of Pythonery. The boys at Virgin have dun a good fing.