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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: February 2, 1998
We’ve searched for the holy grail…we’ve completely wasted our time…now Monty Python fans have another title to add to the collection. In Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, you go on a quest for self-knowledge, spiritual enlightenment, and the answer to the age-old question “What is the average air speed of an unladen swallow”…no, no, I mean, “What’s the meaning of life?” So grab your spam and let’s find out the answer. I should note that this is a game intended for adults, which means people over the age of 17. Children, household pets, and people who take things too seriously and have no sense of humor should neither buy nor play this game, nor finish reading the review for that matter.
I am, admittedly, a bit of a Monty Python junkie. I’ve seen every movie more times than I can count. I know how to tell if someone is a witch, the difference between the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judeah, and think “It’s justa wafer thin” is one of the funniest lines in any movie, ever. Off the bat, I should mention that there are a lot of little things in this game that people who aren’t familiar with the movies or TV show, or both, will just not get. Or, they’ll get it but won’t think it’s funny. However, if you are anything like me there are lots of little treats along the way. Of course, you can still enjoy this game without any previous knowledge of Monty Python.
I’m not going to tell you too much about the game, because it’ll sort of ruin the surprise. It is a rather unstructured effort and going in you really have no idea what you are doing or are supposed to do. The Meaning of Life is broken into several Acts, which in turn are divided into several segments or stages. The different parts of the game include the Stages of Life, the Goals of Life, and others.The game is fairly nonlinear, and only in certain cases do you have to complete one portion of the game before another. In the first Act, you have seven sections to complete, and the sequence is entirely up to you, although most players will choose to finish them in order (it’s sort of a story that way, you know?).
Right from the get-go you’ll know that this game is slightly off-the-wall. I got a pretty good laugh out of the disclaimer that appeared before I actually played the game. The manual is also filled with bits of dry or slightly moistened humor too. In order to advance through each Act, you must complete the sections or stages it contains. For each one, there is a corresponding item that can be obtained, which will allow you to complete that stage. The main screen for each act has the names of the different sections and a blank space where the object “fits.” So, all you really know about the object is approximately what shape it’s in.
Each of the stages is comprised of a number of areas which can be explored and inspected. You’ll often find that each section: a) has some purpose which allows you to help find the necessary object; or b) has nothing whatsoever to do with your tasks. For the most part, it’s usually very difficult to determine which sections are which until you’ve actually found the object you need, at which point you don’t really care, now do you? One thing I really enjoy about the game is that it doesn’t just include clips and parts from the movie of the same name. In fact, I was constantly coming across scenes, characters, and references to other Monty Python films or TV shows I had seen. Of course, you’ll still find the “Every Sperm is Sacred” song, the (in)famous seen in the restaurant with the hugely obese man, and the great gift scene in the trenches during a war.
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