I’ve been experiencing different levels of excitement for Monty Python’s Cow Tossing [99¢ / HD] since I saw the first details on the game at the International Mobile Gaming Awards last month. Since then, I posted the trailer, and generated a bit of excitement from fellow Monty Python fans in comments and on our forums. The game launched yesterday, and I couldn’t wait to try it.
See, I’ve been a Monty Python fan as long as I can remember, and have watched Monty Python and The Holy Grail more times than I could even estimate in my lifetime. I suppose it’s my own fault for letting my imagination run wild, but I figured classic Monty Python style Holy Grail humor combined with Angry Birds gameplay could have been a combination that worked incredibly well.
Monty Python’s Cow Tossing is based around the point of King Arthur’s quest in The Holy Grail where they come across the French stronghold on the search for the grail. After an exchange of taunts, the French claim to have the grail, and Arthur demands it. At this point, the French launch a cow over the wall at Arthur and his men, which is what you’ll be doing in Cow Tossing— Launching farm animals at English knights who are often positioned inside of various structures which will also need to be destroyed, exactly like Angry Birds.
Unfortunately, things go pear shaped quickly. The game takes an incredible amount of time to load each level, even on recent devices. The physics of the game itself are crazy, and not in a good way. Aiming is entirely too difficult, and the additional adjustments that allow you to move the catapult around a bit only serve to make things more convoluted. Also, in the event of you actually hitting a weak point of the English defenses that causes it to fall over, the frame rate often drops to unbelievable levels. There’s more that I didn’t like, but you probably get the idea.
Despite all this, Monty Python’s Cow Tossing does happen to have a few interesting things that are vaguely redeeming. Instead of being limited by the amount of ammo you have, you’re forced to complete each level in a certain amount of time. Each level features an English battering ram rolling towards your French defenses, and if this battering ram reaches you, the level is over. The English defenses that you must destroy are often built on top of this battering ram, which forces you to re-adjust your aim with each shot instead of just getting more accurate via trial and error.
Another cool thing is how power ups are handled. They drop from the sky and you can time your shots to match your ammo to its corresponding power-up for a bonus effect. For instance, if you launch a cow through the cartoony bacterium falling from the sky it will turn in to a mad cow and do tons more damage. There are also power-downs to avoid, and launching your animal through them will cause your shot to fall to the ground.
All in all, Monty Python’s Cow Tossing is full of wasted potential. There are clips of the movie included, so presumably they had quite a bit of free reign over the Holy Grail IP, which is why it makes so little sense to me how little of the movie’s humor actually translates to the game. I was hoping for an absolutely ridiculous parody of Angry Birds, and instead all we really got was a half-baked Angry Birds clone with a Monty Python skin.
The moving battering ram and its associated defenses are a neat feature, and it’s nice that they’ve included some clips from the movie in to the game. Overall, I’d just download Angry Birds and either rent or buy Monty Python and The Holy Grail from iTunes instead.