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Virgin Games Ltd
CORE Design Ltd
Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 128K

Other Links

Alex Ruranski
Chris Bourne

Encounter death, persecution, and fluffy pillows as Virgin introduces the first game where successful players get lower scores.

Dead parrots, spam, lumberjacks, and the Spanish Inquisition set the scene for this licensed spin-off from the '70s TV series once regarded by the BBC as having absolutely no chance of commercial success.

The plot revolves around one of Python's much loved characters, the moustachioed D.P. Gumby, complete with knotted handkerchief on top, who is searching for four separate pieces of his brain, tragically lost during routine surgery. Despite the fact that the brains themselves are quite content to lead their own successful lives, Gumby is determined to retrieve them in a vain attempt to further his dreams and ambitions.

Plot aside, the game itself requires you to guide Gumby through four levels of scrolling landscape blasting all in your path and collecting various objects along the way. Aggravation comes in the form of characters from various Python sketches (such as Norman the Half-Bee, Upper-Class Twits and the aforementioned dead parrot), whilst collectables take the form of eggs, sausages (used to replenish Gumby's energy) and the inevitable Spam. Spam is the key to Gumby's quest - every sixteen tins collected gets you one of the four pieces of brain.

At the end of each level, food collected is counted down for bonus points, whilst 16-bit versions of the game allow you to engage in a pointless argument with a Minister for Pointless Arguments for an extra bonus, (achieved by moving the joystick in the opposite direction to that which the Minister's speech bubble appears).

The scoring system is in keeping with the overall feel of the game in that your score begins at 99,999,999 and actually counts down, extra lives being gained for every 10,000,000 points lost!

Immediately the game begins you are required to pass through what Virgin have dubbed a "Cheeselok" protection system - enter the correct names for two out of sixteen cheeses or the game locks up. Having passed through this, you are then treated to a sample of John Cleese's voice welcoming you to "Monty Python's Flying Circus". Sound is of a high quality throughout, with several well sampled effects and pieces of dialogue taken directly from the series, whilst graphics, although not perhaps the greatest ever witnessed on the Amiga convey the cartoon quality of Terry Gilliam's animations to a tee. Indeed, cartoons play a large part in the game itself as 16-bit versions are interspersed with excellent sketches from the series, (although these have the ability to be turned off along with sound in the event of annoyance).

However, graphics and sound do not a classic make and whilst perhaps initially aesthetically pleasing, Flying Circus delivers nothing new on the gameplay front.

Reviewer: Alex Ruranski

Atari ST, £19.99, Imminent
Amiga, £19.99, Imminent
IBM PC, £24.99, Imminent
Amstrad CPC, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spectrum, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spam 1, £9.99xj, £14.99pq, Maybe
No other versions planned.

Whilst Flying Circus is certainly not the worst of its type, gameplay does leave quite a substantial amount to be desired, in addition to which the sampled effects and cartoon sequences which help to sustain that initial interest, are limited to the 16-bit machines. Try before you buy.


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Suffering from the same gameplay problems as the Amiga version with the added disadvantage of monochrome graphics. Sadly, the 8-bit machine also loses out on the cartoon sequences and the sound samples too are only noticeable for their absence. However, the quality of the caricatures is well preserved and what sound effects there are fit the game well.


Although playing identically to the Amiga version, the ST version of Flying Circus suffers slightly from somewhat below par sampled effects with significant background interference although this does not detract from the gameplay by any means. Other than this small niggle, both 16-bit versions are comparable to one another.

Graphics: 7/10

Audio: 5/10

IQ Factor: 6/10

Fun Factor: 6/10

Ace Rating: 650/1000

1 min: 5/5

1 hour: 5/5

1 day: 4/5

1 week: 2/5

1 month: 1/5

1 year: 0/5


A bit disappointing this one. It lacks the aesthetic appeal of the 16-bit versions because of simplistic graphics and garish use of colour. Very silly. Especially as it makes the characters unrecognisable at times. Even sillier. Couple all this with a lack of samples and some rather basic sound effects and you get a game for mice, not men. Or is that men, not mice. And why hasn't the doctor called yet. Aha! I am the doctor...

Graphics: 6/10

Audio: 5/10

IQ Factor: 8/10

Fun Factor: 10/10

Ace Rating: 590/1000


Initial interest may be held by the hunour element, supported by very pleasing aesthetics, and whilst the Amiga version is the best of the lot, this seems due to machine capability rather than gameplay and as such the game will still be of limited appeal to any but Python fans. At the end of the day, however, and when all is said and done, which it usually is, and fundamentally speaking, it IS a very silly version.

Graphics: 6/10

Audio: 5/10

IQ Factor: 7/10

Fun Factor: 10/10

Ace Rating: 690/1000


Probably the silliest version of the lot. The copy protection system, involving a small metal key, almost always results in either a fatal system crash or - in some cases - mice. Once into the game, the limitations of the round-edged, cubic format become immediately apparent and lasting interest is considerably reduced by the appearance of green mould. Great sandwich, shame about the game.

Graphics: 2/10

Audio: 2/10

IQ Factor: 10/10

Fun Factor: 2/10

Ace Rating: 999/1000

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The Spanish Inquisition - you're being pelted with deadly fluffy pillow.

Watch out for falling weights. And just to make matters worse, you're being followed by a nervous bush...