by Hans ten Cate
Tuesday, 16 January 1996

Invasion from the Planet Skyron is the third Monty Python disc to be released on CD-i, but it's the first one to use the system's interactive potential in any way. "Invasion from the Planet Skyron" isn't really a game in the traditional sense. In fact, there is no mention of a Planet Skyron in the entire game. Instead, fans can play with Python related video clips, animations, sound bites, brain teasers, and parlour games (much like 7th Level's "Complete Waste of Time") by navigating through a number of unusual Gilliam-esque environments.

The game was coded by Daedalus CD-i Productions (Amsterdam, Holland) and is described by Daedalus as a "slightly absurdist and unpredictable" CD-i experience. There are over 800 sound bites and 50 MPEG video clips (totalling 45 minutes) to explore.

From the very beginning, the game sets out to disorientate you. You boot up the disc only to be greeted by the standard Philips CD-i option screen that one typically sees when starting up a CD-i player. But this time, when you click the "Play CD-i" icon, an animated Python troupe (Cleese, Palin, Chapman, Jones and Idle) breaks out of the Philips logo and smashes the remains of the screen in.

The rest of the game continues pretty much in the same vein... The gameplay involves guiding the Python clan through nine levels, each of which is based upon imagery from Terry Gilliam's animations. You control the clan's movements by clicking the cursor where you want them to go. The cursor is also used to activate hot-spots such as doors, windows and the various animated characters (ranging from the Spanish Inquisition to renegade highwayman Dennis Moore).

Although the interactivity is very similar to "Complete Waste of Time" (you damn near have to click on everything) a certain amount of perverse logic is required to make it to the next level. For instance, guiding Simon the Upper-Class-Twit along the tricky "straight line obstacle" involves anticipating his in-bred stupidity and prompting him in the opposite direction to where he should go. There are stacks of hidden sub-games tucked away to add variety: ranging from Pythonesque shoot-em-ups to playing a tune on Terry Jones' infamous mouse organ (smash each mouse on the head to produce a musical squeak). Achieving certain scores means that you will be rewarded with a video clip in the on-screen cinema; the higher the score, bigger and better the video clip you can get.

The title, "Invasion from the Planet Skyron," comes from an early Python sketch which aired during the first season (1969). In it, a race of blancmanges [blancmange: a sweet gelatinous pudding desert] invade England, turning everyone into Scotsmen so that the blancmanges can win Wimbeldon (based on the well-known fact that the Scottish are terrible tennis players). What tips the authorities is Mr. Angus Podgorny, owner of a Dunbar menswear shop, who receives an order for 48 million kilts from the planet Skyron in the Galaxy of Andromeda.