"It's time to put the disc in. It's time to turn stuff on. It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet CD-ROM!" Jim Henson's Muppets are back in Muppets Inside: The Muppet CD-ROM, developed by Starwave Corporation and published by Jim Henson Interactive in 1996. It's a well-put-together collection of mini-games and classic clips that's impossible to do anything but cheer you up.
Without fail, the Muppets will make me laugh. Muppets Inside succeeds at this with aplomb the moment the inventive opening cinematic begins. Our merry band of felt-filled entertainers attempt to put on a show by way of your PC monitor, beginning with a slightly tweaked version of the show's iconic opening number quoted at the very beginning of this review. As is customary for the group, nothing goes as planned and technical mishaps have caused the video file to become corrupt. Being the 'scientific' one, Bunsen has a plan but this just makes things worse - all of the cast have been zapped into your PC and it's up to you to free them. How? By playing mini-games and watching stamp-sized clips, naturally.
There are seven mini-games of varying quality and complexity, each with their own Muppet spin that makes them more enjoyable than they have any right to be. They are repeated a number of times with minor variations giving you a total of 100 interactive encounters. You enter them by way of a virus-infected document and folder located somewhere on the CGI rendered motherboard. Their exact location can be found on the bitmap (ha!) with each destination reached by way of the data bus (double ha!). After each successfully cleaned virus, another folder unlocks with its own mini-game.
Noughts and Crosses, Muppet style
Sometimes you'll find other destinations such as a drinking saloon called Tool Bar (in competition with the Menu Bar), a Hard Drive Storage warehouse and the Mödem tourist information centre. A famous Muppet is found at each location, boarding the bus as you visit (you can see what your collected passengers are up to in the rearview mirror). This is the ultimate aim to complete the game - to clean your PC from the Muppets causing havoc with your machine.
The games themselves are hit-and-miss with my favourite of the bunch being Trivial but True. This is a Celebrity Squares (or Hollywood Squares depending on your country of origin) rip off where you'll have to agree or not whether the particular Muppet answered the question correctly. Hosted by Kermit himself and featuring 9 classic Muppets to populate the 3x3 grid (complete with a variety of funny responses), and you have the ingredients for a very enjoyable digital quiz show. The questions are no walk in the park either.
The perfect way to get your own back on Christmas brussels without sabotaging the delivery truck.
Talking about ingredients, the Swedish Chef's Kitchens of Doom has you destroying them with kitchen utensils in a 3D action parody of id's classic game. The levels are short and simple, with very little to prevent you from finding the exit, which may only be a few feet away on the easiest difficulty setting. Then again, it's not much more challenging in expert mode either. The hard-talking fruit and veg are more bark than bite with any damage lost from their attacks quickly regained by consuming the fancy dish you made them into. While I'd likely baulk at a whole campaign of these levels, as one of many mini-games they do wonders to variety on offer.
I'm sure some of you may get a kick out of this. Not as much as Gonzo though.
If you want in on the masochistic shenanigans of The Great Gonzo, then his own circus-themed sections are what you're after. Shoot the alien of uncertain origin out of a circus cannon and hit the target to succeed. Each time you encounter one of these death-defying acts, more obstacles will be placed in your way. You have unlimited tries no matter the difficulty and the answer is down to luck and guesswork more than anything, but it is fun to watch the big-nosed one get beaten up with unreserved glee.
Flashbacks to my last Karaoke night.
A Wocka on the Wild Side will be very familiar to retro gamers. It is essentially Missile Command re-skinned as a bad comedy act. The booing audience will throw projectiles like bananas, eggs and custard pies at Fozzie the Bear and you'll need to clear them before it hits the quote-unquote "comedian". Sometimes, a hooked cane will creep in stage left or a trap door will open so pay attention. Not all of the dangers are from off-screen.
For a glorified guinea pig, it's surprising how photographic
Beaker's memory is, even if a little muddled.
Going into the more tedious mini-games are a couple of fairly standard matching games. Beaker's Brain has you re-working the scattered memories of past Bunsen & Beaker skits back into the right order with several non-relevant clips scattered in to confuse you. Statler & Waldorf's Two Thumbs Down has you re-arranging a static image instead, with Crazy Harry the Mad Bomber occasionally showing up to get in your way. Both are competently codes and carry the occasional laugh when the hosts chime in on your progress, but after completing a couple of each they get tedious.
At least these matching games don't assault your ears! The worst game of the lot is Scope that Song featuring the 'newest muppet' named Clifford. With the 90's reboot of the Muppet Show called Muppets Tonight yet to air, this would've been the first major 'Muppet' outing for the character before taking over hosting duties on that iconic series. In actuality, he's been around since 1989 when he occasionally appeared playing guitar in the house band of the Jim Henson Hour.
Those songs could only sound better when sung by beaten dead fish! The Muppets provide.
Anyway, I'm stalling. This mini-game has him host a Name That Tune style game show. Have Miss Piggy spin Gonzo (who's loving this a little too much) on a wheel to decide how many notes you have. Then, Marvin Suggs plays them on his Muppaphone and you have to decipher which copyright tune it is. It doesn't help that most of the songs are very American. Most will know Yankee Doodle or Kumbaya but never before had I heard of a song called Bill Bailey or Let Me Call You Sweetheart. Either that or I'm woefully uncultured. Couple that with three rounds or ear-splitting attempts at music that was rarely funny in its original skit and you have the worst game on the list.
Outside of the games, there are copious amounts of stamp-sized clips randomly cropping up, each exhibiting many of the show's best moments. Once you've found the 'Cache Machine', you can revisit them whenever you want, making this a true multi-media experience. You can even collect props from the show floating around the cyberspace too, each revealing a bit of useless trivia.
While Muppets Inside is essentially another one of those self-promoting CD-ROM that was all-too-popular in the early days of the format, it is also the best kind of time waster. The short, easily completed mini-games are packed with enough puns and sight gags to keep you entertained for short bursts. It does fall apart if you attempt to complete it in one sitting, but this type of game is not designed for that. Come back to it every now and then when you want to waste 10 minutes or so and it will be time well wasted.
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. 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: 644 Mb. Install Size: 993 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Muppets Inside: The Muppet CD-ROM is © Starwave Corporation & Jim Henson Productions, Inc
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me