by Hans ten Cate
Tuesday, 16 January 1996

Then again, you don't have to buy a new 32-bit home entertainment center to enjoy Monty Python. Dust off your old Atari's, Commodore's, and 286's - they may come in handy here...

In 1991, Virgin Mastertronic, the international software arm of Virgin Records, released Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Computer Game, an action/arcade-style game which was available for the PC, Amiga, Commodore, and Atari. In it, you control D.P. Gumby through a labyrinth of Python related obstacles and traps. The objective? Well Mr. Gumby is in search of his brain of course! Doctor!!!

Alas, the game itself is hard to come by these days. Virgin Mastertronic does not exist anymore, at least, not in the United States. They have since reorganized themselves as Virgin Interactive and have, apparently, lost all knowledge and recollection of their Virgin Mastertronic titles. Even though we managed to procure a copy of the game from them in early 1994, the last time we called them (late summer 1995), they could find no trace of the game and were unable to assist. This may mean that likely owners of this title will have to visit used-software shops or the game will have to be (dare we say it...) distributed via the Internet.

Although the game takes up a mere 630K, it is challenging and rip-roaringly funny. Before starting, the player must identify two types of cheese (really a copy protection scheme involving pictures of cheese, which the player must match with pictures found in the game instruction book). Then the real fun begins. The player pilots Mr. D.P. Gumby through a countless number of Python obstacles (e.g., cheese, spam, vikings, dead parrots, keep left signs, the Spanish Inquisition, half-bees, and soft cushions). The objective is to find all four pieces of Mr. Gumby's missing brain. Because each level takes place in, shall we say, rather unusual and Gilliamesque environments, Mr. Gumby is surgically altered; in the first level he takes on the body of a fish to swim through underwater caverns. To defend himself, Mr. Gumby must also throw fish (probably halibut) at oncoming dangers and obstacles.

Along the way, Mr. Gumby collects cans of Spam, sausages, eggs, Spam, baked beans, and Spam. At the end of each level, Mr. Gumby vomits all of his food into a big hole. If he regurgitates at least 16 cans of Spam, he gets a piece of his brain back. Also, as part of a bonus round, Mr. Gumby gets to play "Argument Clinic" with the Minister for Pointless Arguments. In it, Mr. Gumby must contradict everything the Minister says by moving Mr. Gumby's cartoon text-balloon in the opposite direction of that of the Minister's. Agree with the Minister or hesitate too long and the Minister calls time and the bonus round is over. Scoring starts at 99,999,999 points and counts down. The lower the score the better! Sound silly enough?