The Sad History of Monty Python Video Games
The Monty Python films often find themselves on the internet’s Best Comedies lists, with reflections of the troupe consistently popping up on our screens. The Beatles of Bizarre Comedy have influenced everyone, from David Cross and Weird Al to the creators of South Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons, while single-handedly making Spam one of the most recognized jokes in the history of food jokes.
But even avid fans of the silly surrealists may have missed the video games this franchise somehow spawned back in the 1990s. Yes, even the Flying Circus fell under the weird spell gaming cast on other comedic greats, like when they made...
‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus: The Computer Game’
1990 was Monty Python’s intro to the world of gaming when Core Design released a game that looked like Mario Bros. but featured a character resembling the troupe’s Gumby guy. What makes this game’s existence so strange is that designers apparently thought it was a good idea to take a show where dialogue and line delivery is everything and turn it into a game entirely devoid of either of those things.
In fairness, the game includes some of the sketch group’s famous jokes and Terry Gilliam’s signature iconography. Those Spam-loving Vikings show up, Gumby gets stomped by that giant foot whenever he needs to start over and there are rooms where a player can collect all the eggs, beans and Spam because they may as well have called this game We Love the Spam Joke.
How does a game like this even end, you ask? If a player collects four pieces of brain, Gumby turns into an accountant and sidles off the screen. If not, you get a picture of a frog. Congratulations.
‘Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time’
Released by 7th Level in 1994, this computer game is a multimedia experience comprising of mini-games, digitized clips haphazardly strung together and a head that turns into a chicken before flying into a gigantic mouth. It came with screensavers and wallpaper because who wouldn’t want their desktop to look like a Python character barfed all over it?
There’s also quite a lot of eye-poking going on in this one because “TV bad” or whatever.
The game seems to contain more clips of Python sketches than any actual gameplay, until you discover a bunch of laughably difficult mazes hidden in some of the rooms — seemingly set in space for reasons absolutely no one will ever know.
‘Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail’
We now skip to two years later, when 7th Level dropped a second title. 1996’s Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail is a CD-ROM adventure game that mostly consists of clicking all over the screen, hoping to find a gameplay hotspot. The game comes with a “Register Now” button that unleashes a whopping 124 questions ranging from the lame to the “What in the holy hand grenade?“ — like whether you’re wearing underwear or how many goats have stood for parliament.
The incessant “questions as jokes” bit eventually ends with this groaning but fair explanation:
There are a bunch of mini-games lodged between digitized clips of the Holy Grail movie, and this time the designers leaned hard into the notorious gallows humor of the English. For example, there's a Tetris-style game called “Drop Dead” where you stack a bunch of plague victims on top of each other while they periodically shout, “I’m not dead!”
There’s also one called “Burn the Witch,” where the player creates a melody by setting four tied-up, shrieking women on fire. Meanwhile, “Spank the Virgin” is a Whack-a-Mole game that’s precisely what that sounds like. And then there’s a fighting game featuring the Black Knight getting chopped into bits that’s also a shoutout to Mortal Kombat?
It was definitely the most entertaining Monty Python game up to that point, even if it simply doubled as watching the entire Holy Grail movie again — only this time on your computer.
‘Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life’
7th Level was clearly on a roll and hell-bent on bringing out a trilogy, as Monty Python's The Meaning of Life was released — complete with a bushel of bugs — a year after Quest for the Holy Grail dropped. Based on Python’s 1983 movie, The Meaning of Life adventure game sees players traversing different stages of life while cutouts of cast members either pop out of toasters or fill the screen, looking like they’re ready to eat a face.
The “Live Organ Transplants” game is as gory as the movie scene it's based on, while there’s also a bit where you need to have some culinary knowledge on how to make a salmon mousse. Then there’s the game that allows players to live out their morbid Meaning of Life fantasy by feeding Mr. Creosote until he explodes.
The inclusion of new bits produced by the cast made this game at least somewhat fresh, but it still had problems besides the bugs and proved difficult to finish without a proper walkthrough guide.
The Meaning of Life marked the merciful end of Monty Python PC games. Then 2011 rolled in, and a South African studio decided that the world was ready for an epic Flying Circus mobile game that closely resembles Angry Birds. A concept that just leaves us angry and wanting to flip the bird.