Monty Python’s Flying Circus
And now for something completely different…
Monty Python’s Flying Circus: The Computer Game.
Yup, that’s a thing that exists.
And, with Terry Gilliam’s new movie The Zero Theorem out in theatres just last week, what better time to explore this mad creation than right now?
Today, I’ll be looking at the Amiga version of the game as the Commodore 64 port just…
Looks a bit crappy.
Now, you’re probably wondering how one could possibly turn Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a TV show defined by how random and cartoonishly nonsensical its content is, into a video game.
Make it as manipulatively silly as possible.
This is how the game starts, people.
You pick a cheese and…
I think the tone is set, don’t you?
Cheese and brains are a big deal in this game. It’s not lying about that.
The plot, if you can call it that, sees good old Mr Gumby (a famous character from the show, played usually by Michael Palin) lose different parts of his brain and, instead of going to a “brain specialist” to sort the problem out, he sets out on a surreal journey to recover each piece.
Mostly through eating SPAM, eggs, sausages (and SPAM).
It’s complete and utter absurdity from the very first screen as you’re promptly followed by some little green bush with legs everywhere you go.
You can’t kill the bush, it doesn’t really do anything and you don’t really see it again after this first “level” so it’s pretty much useless but, weirdly, I kinda like that it’s there.
The first thing that happens in the game is it stops you in your tracks to show you this:
Then the game continues as if nothing had happened and, every so often, you’re shown another tree which, of course, has no impact on the game whatsoever.
The second thing that happens is…
You turn into a fish.
So far, so good: the game’s incredibly silly but it’s so funny it’s completely entertaining.
Unfortunately, it’s also a rather challenging game so you’ll need to somehow stay focused because, as happy-go-lucky as the game is, it’s in no way easy or lenient.
It’s a little awkward to play as fish Gumby and parts of those levels are really easy while others are really hard, mostly because some enemies are a pain to kill, respawn constantly and throw loads of projectiles you’ll find hard to avoid.
This is one level it took me a while to get through, honestly.
Since you’re mostly meant to go through the right tubes without bumping into anything, a lot of it is trial and error. To the point where it’s very likely that, playing the game for the first time, you’ll be seeing a lot of that:
Luckily, something nobody ever expects shows up eventually to make that fish level worth it.
That’s right: nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
These guys are basically the equivalent of bosses in this game since they take a little longer to beat.
Even if all they do is throw pillows at you.
It’s at this point that I started questioning whether I was underwater or whether I was actually a flying fish.
Before I can get my thoughts in order, however, the game stops me in my tracks again to show me this:
Gumby has some strange argument with some bald fella and… that’s pretty much it.
A reference to Monty Python’s classic Argument Clinic skit, it’s a fun little joke which comes at the right time, offering you a bit of a breather after that stressful fish level.
At the end of each level, some old lady tallies up all the food you’ve acquired in the classiest way imaginable:
By watching you vomiting out entire cans of beans into some hole on the ground.
How is this even helping my brain recovery?!
My brain hurts.
I rather envy Gumby, in that respect.
That’s right, the game includes an “Argument Bonus,” a Time Bonus and even a “Cheese Bonus” so you’re never bored, there’s always something goofy to do or pick up.
Soon after, we’re lumped straight into the insane, surreal world of Terry Gilliam’s animations:
Upside-down feet, flying toes, orifices everywhere, fleshy blocks with mouths…
You name it, this game’s got it.
And it’s boosted all the way up to 11.
I actually quite like this human body-themed level as you finally get to move and jump around like in a real side-scroller. This means that the game is a little more manageable and, by extension, a little easier to truly take in and enjoy.
This is also when you encounter some of the weirdest things in the entire game.
Head intestines, ear and finger tubes…
Creepy smiling flesh blocks:
Bouncing black-and-white heads:
The hole on the left of the screen, by the way, kinda just happened. For some reason, here and there, you can puncture holes into the backgrounds themselves.
Don’t ask me why.
I mean, this is a game in which your character turns into a pogo-stick boot without warning so I have no explanations for most of this stuff.
Having said that, the game does inform and educate us once in a while:
So the bridge of the nose was near the nose area of a person this whole time?
Don’t know about you but I feel smarter already.
I should mention, at this point, what your weapon is in this game, I think:
Because… why not?
After all, Monty Python were well known for their iconic fish slapping dance. And that one slightly disturbing scene from The Meaning Of Life, of course. So fish were always going to be a big part of any Python-themed game.
So now you’re halfway through the game, you’d expect it to either end abruptly or slow down a tad. Or maybe even become slightly normal and yet…
I’m actually annoyed at myself for not having seen this coming.
Nope, your eyes are not deceiving you, Mr Gumby has turned into a chicken.
A chicken who soon flies high-up into the clouds to throw fish at Saddam Hussein clones.
That and go through a hole leading straight into space:
This leads us to what is easily the most patriotic part of the game where you turn into a boot again and hop around in front of a big American flag collecting food.
The game reaches its thrilling final level in which you battle some of the most terrifying creatures this world has ever known.
Demons kneel at the sight of these particular monsters, that’s how scary they are.
Sorry, I was thinking about some other game.
This game has you shoot fish at bunny rabbits and giant hedgehogs who spit hammers.
Let me just repeat that.
Giant hedgehogs who spit hammers.
This is honestly the most overwhelming, immersive gaming experience I’ve encountered since playing through Portal 2.
I love the game, it’s pretty darn hilarious and yet… there’s something oddly exhausting about it.
It’s like having the Monty Python gang constantly throw bizarre stuff at you while you’re trying to play a game: it’s both awesome and intensely frustrating, not to mention confusing.
Anyway, the game finally takes you to its final boss:
How did I not expect the Spanish Inquisition… again?!
That was the whole point of that joke!
They’re so often unexpected that you should really start expecting them.
This guy takes ages to beat.
Mercifully, his moving pattern isn’t exactly complex so, if you’re patient enough, you’ll get rid of him eventually.
The game ends about as randomly as you’d expect.
Gumby gets his brains back and he inexplicably turns into this guy:
The dude then steps all the way to the right little by little and we get a nice little punchline:
So the entire game was all one big joke at the expense of accountants?!
That’s actually a far more worthy venture than whatever last week’s King Neptune’s Adventure was going for.
I mean, really, this entire game is nothing but one big joke and, you know what? That’s cool! I just wish it had been far easier to play because, as it stands, it’s far too unforgiving for its own good. You’d expect to breeze through a game like this, taking all the humour in and getting to the end without too much hassle but there’s definitely a challenge there, even if the game is in fact rather short.
Never underestimate the Pythons: lesson learned.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that these games probably don’t exist.
Though I really wish they did.
Overall, if you’re a fan of Monty Python, you’ll be in heaven with this game and, if you’re a resilient enough gamer to get through it, then this will likely become one of your favourite oddities. A strange little gem that shouldn’t exist and yet, for some reason, does. Otherwise, if you’re not familiar with the classic show or the comedy gang’s work, then prepare to be very, very surprised and puzzled.
The huge amount of fart sound effects throughout the game alone will either make or break the game for you, I think.
Definitely one for fans.
Alright, now let me just type in my extremely silly score…
I almost forgot!
Theeeere we are.