Preview - Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time (Windows 3.x, 1994)

Despite all evidence to the contrary, there are still some sadly twisted people on this planet who believe that computers are primarily business tools, and that any other use of the technology is a complete waste of time. Needless to say, this sector of the population would never waste their time with a CD Mag called "Interactive Entertainment." But for the rest of us, 7th Level is about to unleash perhaps the silliest CD-ROM in the history of the industry, and very likely the entire universe as well. It goes by the all too appropriate name of "Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time."

(Warning: The following paragraph consists of really obvious history for the Python impaired. The rest of you can skip ahead. Don't worry. I'll catch up.)

The comedy troupe Monty Python consists of four Britons named John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, one American named Terry Gilliam, and one dead person named Graham Chapman. (Incidentally, Chapman wasn't always dead. He died in 1990, and it's fair to say that this setback has adversely affected his performance skills.) The group made its debut in a BBC television series called Monty Python's Flying Circus. Cleese once explained that the name was chosen because none of the performers was named Monty Python, there was no circus involved, and, if there was, it certainly didn't fly. After four successful seasons, they went on to conquer the big screen with such cult classics as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Life of Brian, and Monty Python's Meaning of Life. Along the way, they also recorded several record albums, performed numerous live concerts and basically became terribly terribly famous.

The "Complete Waste of Time" is the first interactive product from the Python crew, unless you count all the annoying people who recite the lines along while watching a movie. (It has never been satisfactorily explained, but there is something about Monty Python comedy that begs to be memorized and quoted, complete with goofy voices.) While the CD certainly includes lots of everyone's favorite sketches, including Nudge Nudge, The Dead Parrot and The Cheese Shop, it will also feature some new skits. That is especially noteworthy, since the last thing the team released that wasn't just a rehashing of old material was The Meaning of Life movie back in the early eighties. There will also be lots of chances to sing along with such classic songs as The Lumberjack Song and The Philosophers Song. And even that's just the tip of the digital iceberg.

This product will also use some of the same interface as 7th Level's debut title, Tuneland. In that children's game, the player clicks on cute little cartoon ducks and horses and things in a barnyard and they dance and sing. The interactive scenarios in the Complete Waste will be based on the trademark cartoon style of Terry Gilliam, and therefore not nearly as "cute". You'll be clicking on some very strange items, such as stuffed penguins, lumberjacks and semprini, and they will react in some truly perverse ways. The disc inculdes six giant scenarios: the Exploratorium, the Exploding TV Room, the Corridor, the Portait Gallery, the Stage and the Brain.

The disc will also include some more traditional arcade-style games, for those who find the freeform scenarios unsatisfying. Of course, the graphics of these games will also be in the Gilliam mode, so instead of falling blocks or spaceships or army men., they will feature such diverse elements as exploding pigs and hammer wielding madwomen.

But perhaps the best thing the "Complete Waste" has to offer is the program that comes with it on the CD-ROM. It's called the "Desktop Pythonizer," and it allows you to turn an ordinary Windows layout into a haven for loonies. You can replace your boring old icons with spam or 16 ton weights, and change up your sound files with lots of memorable and rude noises. This in itself would be a must-have for the hi-tech Python fan, and it will also be sold separately on 3.5" disks for those poor slobs who can't afford a CD-ROM drive.

Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time looks like more than any fan could have dared dream of for the PC. It may even help the Pythons reach a new audience. However hard it is to believe that there are some people around who can't sing along with the Lumberjack song, there is a whole new generation of potential loonies out there who weren't even born when The Life of Brian was released. Poor deprived bastards.