“Release the duck!!!”
Let’s face it: Monty Python and the Holy Grail has a special place in my heart. And the scene where King Arthur and his knights approach a French-occupied castle only to be insulted, pelted with objects and then have a rather large cow hurtled at them, only more so.
Thus it stands to reason that an iOS game centered around both the attack and hurling a very large animals to repel the attack would come into existence. Enter Monty Python’s Cow Tossing HD, a title in which you take control of the French catapult and must fling assorted animals at King Arthur’s forces before their battering ram destroys your gate and the invasion is complete.
Some of us live long, noble lives. And some of us are crushed by cows. That’s how things are.
Tap on Play Game you’ll see the classic cow-tossing sequence to bring you into the right frame of mind. From there, it’s a matter of targeting the oncoming enemy, the game allowing you to fire your projectile through a series of falling power-ups and power-downs that can add destructive power to your shot or block it entirely.
A good blend of cartoon-esque graphics and sound create an amusing environment and it’s cool to see Terry Gilliam’s weird art style become a game interface — but this is also where the game hits the wall.
Few things are deadlier than a confused, catapulted chicken…
Beyond a combination of version 1.0 bugs and weirdness (the game starts in a default configuration with the sound muted, an odd way to begin since the audio carries so much of the mood and humor), there’s the fact that the game style is far too reminiscent of Angry Birds to be ignored. Cow Tossing feels like a lesser clone of the Rovio’s best-selling title, with a time limit per level being the only major difference between the two.
The control scheme, unfortunately, feels kludgy at best; the firing mechanism feels unresponsive and about a quarter of a second behind as you try to line up a shot. Even worse, your target is initially off screen and advancing slowly towards you at the beginning of each level. While it’s easy enough to zoom out, this lends to a vague feeling of not knowing exactly what you’re targeting. In contrast, Angry Birds deals with a smaller screen real estate, letting you see what you’re targeting at all times. This doesn’t improve Cow Tossing’s experience, and despite its 80 levels, the targeting experience feels too much like a chore for a casual title.
No word on whether this swan is, in fact, angry.
The bottom line. While there’s an inclination to state that Monty Python’s Cow Tossing HD was a quick, hasty effort to capitalize on a classic comedy meme and heap additional currency into the Python coffers, this doesn’t feel like the case. There’s a genuinely good game at the core here — the app itself ran well and we experienced none of the crashes that App Store reviewers are complaining about — but there’s a lot of version 1.0 bugginess to sort out. Give it a month, wait until it hits version 1.1 (or later), see what the feedback is and perhaps the $2.99 App Store price won’t go towards a soda but towards a promising title laden with Monty Python goodness…
[Update: We had originally said the art style was Graham Chapman’s, but it’s really Terry Gilliam. Sorry about that; it’s been fixed above.]
iPad running iOS 3.2 or later
Good graphics, sound and app stability. Taps into the Monty Python sensibility. Some imaginative ideas in place.
Awkward/kludgy controls and interface make targeting feel harder than it should be. Feels like a less-polished “Angry Birds” clone.