For a game as weird and wacky as Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, it follows the original plot quite closely. The puzzles and minigames are all at least partially centered around events from the films, many of the Pythons returned to add their voices and contribute to the writing, and the entire package just feels like a Python affair.
MPQHG frequently jumps back and forth between two genres: the adventure title, and the simplistic desktop arcade game. You’ll spend the majority of your time wandering around scenes from the film, randomly clicking stuff in the hopes of getting items or solving a puzzle or simply in activating a funny joke, but you’ll also eventually be rewarded with any one of five minigames. They include:
Drop Dead: It’s Tetris, but with dead bodies.
Knights in Kombat: Playing as either King Arthur or the Black Knight, you have to defeat the other in single combat. If you win as the Knight, though (after losing three of your limbs you can actually bleed on Arthur to damage him), you can’t complete the game.
Burn the Witch: Simon-style pattern memorization, but with burning witches instead of buttons.
Catch the Cow: As the Frenchmen throw cows at your soldiers, reposition them to avoid the plummeting bovines by clicking on them. They can only turn right, so you’ll have to click on them at the right moment and the correct number of times to keep them out of harm’s way.
Spank the Virgin: Whack-a-mole, only a lot easier to masturbate to. Hopefully.
While these minigames are really nothing spectacular, they are rather funny due to their detailed presentation; in “Knights in Kombat,” for instance, you can look out through the Black Knight’s helmet, the inside of which seems to be decorated like a mix between a Russian nuclear sub and a Megazord. In “Catch the Cow,” everytime you click on a soldier to turn them 90 degrees to the right, they respond with at least one use of the word “right” from the film — surprisingly, the characters in Holy Grail said “right” a hell of a lot.
But when you’re not dicking around with arcade games, you’ll be utterly confused by the logic of Holy Grail‘s puzzles. More often than not, you’ll solve problems not by using inventory items on other inventory items (as a normal adventure game would have you do), but by randomly clicking on things until you realize the right order you need to click on them in order to proceed (at one point, you have to string christmas lights across the top of the castle Anthrax by clicking each of its spires — what?). There’s no rhyme or reason to Holy Grail‘s puzzles; at one point, you’ll have to collect a bunch of items from the landscape (“Huge Tracts O’ Land” is actually an inventory item), and twenty minutes later you’ll have to throw them all away by dumping them into a seemingly bottomless barrel. I enjoy Holy Grail for its jokes and its charm, don’t get me wrong — I just would have never, ever finished it had it not been my trusty walkthrough and a determination to get to the final scene, where the player is rewarded with an animatic of a deleted scene from the original Holy Grail script.
With that in mind, how’s about I spoil it and include that very deleted scene in a YouTube embed?
Why you probably aren’t playing it:
Even back when adventure games were popular, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail was still one hell of a weird-ass game. Its puzzles made no sense, its arcade games were both frequent and odd, and it was difficult to the point of nigh-impossibility. At the time, of course, most reviewers focused on the fact that, as a game, MPQHG wasn’t particularly satisfying. The game wasn’t absurdly popular at release, but it fared well enough to warrant a sequel (of sorts), Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.* Pythonites bought it and enjoyed it; in the end, what else matters?
Which brings us to the all-important question: should you get it? Personally, I’m rather angry at myself for selling my copy of Monty Python’s Looney Bin (which collected Grail and Complete Waste of Time), if only because of the rampant variety of the arcade games and the hundreds of jokes sprinkled throughout. As it stands, it goes for the low, low price of 100 points on Goozex, and can be found pretty easily on Amazon or eBay. If you’re a fan of the Pythons, check it out. If you’re not a fan of the Pythons, sterilize yourself.
Actually, I’ve just found a page which does include a few pictures of the gameplay. It’s here. I didn’t include the pics in this post because they’re (A) watermarked and (B) practically thumbnails.
*Look for that next week, most likely.