Tuesday, 5 February 2019

MONTY PYTHON'S MEANING OF LIFE


If anyone should ponder the meaning of life, it's the anarchic members a British comedy troupe.
The sketches in Monty Python's Meaning of Life may appear less focussed or story-driven than their previous two efforts, but it's no less funny for it. In fact, fourteen years after the movie's cinematic run in 1983, 7th Level created an adventure game out of it that's much more of a game than their previous Python adaptations.

It begins much like you'd expect if you've played Quest for the Holy Grail or Complete Waste of Time. Skits are re-created in an interactive digital form with several highlighted points that will unleash a barrage of comedy on you when clicked on. The further you play, however, the overall objective of the game become clear - or at least as clear as something as nebulous as the meaning of life can be.

You initially have seven stages of life opened up to you, each focussing on a singular skit such as 'The Miracle of Birth' or 'Live Organ Transplants'. These follow them quite closely with a couple of inventory, logic or skill puzzles ultimately revealing a seeming random food item marking the stage's end. You can play these stages in any order you choose, but only upon playing 'Death' do you realise that these food items make up the ingredients for Salmon Mousse. Other than this each of life's stages are entirely self-contained.

Tracing that incision is one hell of a task whether using a sickle or a chainsaw (left).
A balancing game to feed Mr. Creosote. That last dish is a wafer-thin mint (right).

It's mostly fun getting to the end of Death's sequence, barring a number of hideously fiddly join-the-dots puzzles in 'Live Organ Transplants'. You have to choose a sharp instrument from a selection, then follow the dots on a patients stomach. Slip up and blood will cover the screen forcing you to wipe it away before trying again. This was one of the most difficult sections of the game and one so annoying even the great humour can't redeem it. Beyond the Monty Python comedy - some of which has been created specifically for this game with all surviving members returning - there isn't really anything here you've not seen before. That is until you get beyond life's stages and onto life's goals.

According to the Pythons, the goals in life can be categorised into three distinct categories; Material, Spiritual and Dental. The first two are very similar, though what you do in them varies dramatically. You'll have to complete both of these before you can see anything in Dental. The gameplay here is much more of a traditional adventure, with cause and effect leading to different locations and an inventory-based puzzle system. There's even a dreaded maze in there, though it's not nearly as painful as it could be.

You can access your inventory using the icon at the bottom or right-click to scroll through them (left).
Can you find the Baron Munchausen figures hidden in the third act? (right)

The throughline is still very much philosophical by way of farce with random moments bringing the laughs. Most of them are entirely new scenarios while classic characters like The Bishop or the Spanish Inquisition cropping up. To keep the link to the movie, there are also some moments involving Crimson Permanent - the Terry Gilliam directed short that opened the movie. Underneath the anarchic dadaism, there are some deep philosophical moments to be had. One such moment involves you ripping up native settlements to build churches and temples before doing the same to them for a number of dull buildings holding a variety of insurance companies.

After the Goals of Life, comes the Cottage of Life. A quaint abode in which resides an obvious hoarder. Books, ornaments and a surprising number of dolls are strewn across the home, most of which contain clues of how to progress. This section is even more gamey than the last, with more logic behind the still-surreal puzzles where finding their answers through visual or audible clues being just as important as the puzzle themselves. For example, there's a traditional sliding puzzle on one of the bookshelves, but completing it won't do anything. Behind each pile is a set of boobs taken from a variety of sources, both artistic and saucy. You have to press these in a certain order gleamed from one of the books nearby.

Between every screen is a morality question that affects the end-game. It will display an intermission if you've
answered them all (left). It appears every 90s comedy game has a variant of You Don't Know Jack (right).

The downside is that there are a load of game-breaking bugs that may or may not crop up in your playthrough. So much, in fact, that 7th Level implemented cheats deliberately to combat them. While auto-completing that liver transplant surgery is welcome, entering a code to give you some important items you forgot to pick up so you can actually continue is a step too far. It's very easy to get to that section without them and you cannot go back either. Poor programming in my opinion. The last section is also replete with them too, though I was lucky enough to not encounter them. I recommend grabbing the walkthrough on GameFAQs, not for the guide per se, but for the info on the bugs and how to bypass them without starting the game over.

Despite this, there's still a surprising amount of quality content here. So much in fact that it would take more than one afternoon to fully complete the game. There's more gameplay than Holy Grail which, while great in its own right, is little more than a short animated storybook at heart. These two are also completable unlike Complete Waste of Time with its overly-obtuse objectives blindly hidden behind the collection of mini-games.

Monty Python's Meaning of Life may contain skits talking about life, the universe and everything but the answers they explore are much more complex than 42. Like the movie, the classic comedy on display makes the empty inconsequential void that is human existence much more palatable.


To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.

File Size: 992 Mb.  Install Size: 1.30 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download

UPDATE - 02.03.2020


To download Version 2, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.

IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so.

File Size: 0.99 Gb.  Install Size: 1.29 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download



Monty Python's Meaning of Life (The Game) is © 7th Level, Inc
Monty Python's Meaning of Life (The Movie) is © The National Film Trustee Company Ltd
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


Like this? Try These...

http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/monty-pythons-complete-waste-of-time.html  http://collectionchamber.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/monty-python-quest-for-holy-grail.html  https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/p/hitchhikers-guide-to-galaxy-collection.html

19 comments:

  1. Love this game,BUT!!!! the famous attic bug drives me insane.If anyone has been able to get past this bug, Please upload a save-file!!! I don't know if you can savein the attic, but it would solve a huge prblem. and Biffman, this place is fantastic and i wold love to see "Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster"

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    1. Is this the point where the screen goes black when attempting to go up a ladder? The GameFAQs link in my review addresses that. Basically, there should have been a 'Swap Discs' prompt here, taking you back to CD1 but they didn't implement it (swap discs and click on where the continue icon would be). My installer removes the need for disc swapping so it doesn't occur.

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    2. As for Frankenstein, I've got it working but I've not played much of it yet. I might save it for October/Halloween.

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  2. I've never had a problem running this game in any OS. I'm running it now in Windows 8.1 64 bit with absolutely no compatibility changes made at all with the retail disc. Just saying. It seems to run fine straight out of the box.

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    1. To be honest, I didn't even try it out of the box. Being over 20 years old, I suspect there may be some issues on some systems so at least PCEm will give a more universal experience. It also takes away the need to insert/mount the CD/ISO. The no such NOCD patch for this as far as I can tell.

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  3. True there is no available No-Cd patch for this game as far as I have noticed. But what I found to work was to copy the entire CD into a folder, then install the game into the same folder and it never asks for a disc. The same method works with Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Although, the grail fails to work this way after Windows Vista. That is until you so generously fixed and shared it with us here. Thank you for that !

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    1. Interesting, though I doubt I'll change my installer for it. I guess those wanting to try it this way can copy the files in the MPML.iso from the CD folder in my version.

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  4. Maybe a comment that someone has raised before... do you have a guide, or a link to a guide, on how to setup pcem with windows98? Because I guess it depends on specific graphic card, cpu and all emulation with all its quirks. Thanks!

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    1. I haven't written my own guide, but there's plenty of info out there. I'd start with the PCEm forums, or perhaps a vid on YouTube.

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  5. Love this place!! Love this game! So many good old games brought back to life!!!

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  6. oh crap..
    on e file is gone on MEGA : Install-MPML.D01 !
    can you check it ?

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    1. It appears to be there on my end. Are you sure it downloaded properly?

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  7. Are you finished the game?
    Do you have save files for this game? Can you upload them?

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    1. Hello, I did finish this game to completion but I doubt I have the save files anymore. It's all kept within the virtual hard drive anyway. If you're wanting a work around to the error when moving over to CD2, it's not present in this version as it doesn't require disk swapping.

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    2. Hi Biff, how are you?
      So it can be finished huh? Okay then... So I made a mistake somewhere. This is a great game, a philosophical masterpiece, but there are unthinkable bugs in the game. I think it was released without any testing. BTW the problem is not changing the CDs. I solved that thing many years ago...

      Anyway, I hope someday you can do something for "Master Of Dimensions" named game, a real trouble-maker. It does not work in any way. Even It doesn't work with a real Windows 95.

      Good day mate.

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  8. Can you please release an alternate version through DOSBox?

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  9. Are both versions stable? IS the only difference DOSBox vs PCem?

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    1. Thank you very much for the collection BTW! Being a big MP fan, I always wanted to try out these games but never got a chance to play. Had a copy once but could never get it running properly.

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    2. I played it on PCem as it has better compatibility than DOSbox DAUM. I completed it there too, but be warned it needs a beefy machine to run it smoothly. DAUM needs less resources which is why a fan requested this alternative version. I've played it briefly and it seems fine, but I haven't got too far to be sure. Hence both versions remain.

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