SEEKING THE GRAIL
Scientific games’ “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” taps into humor that had an entire generation laughing
By Frank Legato
For a wide swath of baby boomers who were in high school and/or college in the 1970s, there was a weekly ritual—belly laughs in front of the television, courtesy of the British sketch-comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
It’s no wonder, then, that one of the hit movies of 1975 was the second film featuring the Monty Python comedy troupe, a spoof on the Arthurian legend called Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In fact, that movie—satirizing the legend of King Arthur and the quest of the Knights of the Round Table for the Holy Grail in 91 minutes of the kind of hilarious, irreverent comedy only Python could do—was subsequently named by ABC film critics as the fifth greatest comedy film of all time.
Fans of the film have typically seen it many times, and know the best bits back and forth: The Black Knight remaining defiant in his duel with King Arthur, even as the last of his limbs is cut off by Arthur with Excalibur. A cute, white and very evil bunny flying at the uct marketing at Scientific Games. “We poured a lot of energy into getting the right tone and energy of Holy Grail, and based on the responses we’ve seen at trade shows, I think fans are going to love it. It’s full of fan-favorite jokes and characters, music, art and scenes from the movie.”
Laugh a Minute
Indeed, players familiar with the film will laugh as they work their way through both primary-game and bonus sequences, as the entire game is packed with footage, audio and references to the beloved comedy.
Killer Bunny and Black Knight both have five-reel, 40-line base games, and fans of the film will notice the movie’s presence right away: As the reels spin, the audio background consists of the fake hoof sounds made by King Arthur’s deputy by clapping coconuts together as the troop pretended to be on horseback. (If you haven’t seen the film, watch it— you’ll get it immediately.)
Each game features a five-level progressive jackpot, achieved through a picking bonus that appears randomly. Like everything else in the game, the bonus plays out with much hilarity, with animation simulating the famous clip-art style of Python animator Terry Gilliam.
(“We incorporated elements from the original movie, and our artists created unique art and animations that were inspired by Terry Gilliam’s work on Holy Grail,” comments Colella.)
The scene is Arthur and his knights on a rickety bridge, overlooking many characters and icons from the film. A grid of 25 tiles hides images of each character, which correspond to the five progressives.
The player wins the first jackpot for which he has collected enough icons: The lowest progressive, resetting at 1,000 credits times the line bet, is won by gathering three “Trojan Rabbit” symbols. Progressively higher jackpots require more icons—four nuns for a prize resetting at 2,000 times the line bet, and so forth, up to the top progressive for collecting seven Holy Grail symbols—on the common penny version of the game, the jackpot starts at $3,000.
Several other mystery events showcase more great parts of the movie. A feature awarding random extra wild symbols has the French sentry (“English pig-dogs!”) flinging farm animals from the castle to land on the reels to turn symbols wild as the knights flee. (“Run away! Run away!”). Gilliam’s multi-eyed cartoon monster from the film provides random multipliers. The guard of the Holy Grail, played by John Cleese, replaces random symbols to create more wins.
The title sequences of each game appear through free-spin events. In Killer Bunny, the bunny that attacks the knights in the film flies down to the reels to award wilds during the free games. (“That’s no ordinary rabbit. That’s the most foul, cruel and badtempered rodent you ever set your eyes on!”)
In Black Knight, free spins are accented by footage of the Black Knight’s ill-fated battle with King Arthur (it keeps going back to clips that find the knight’s bravado continuing despite losing just about every limb).
All of this, of course, is meaningless if you haven’t seen the film. But fans of the legendary comedy will not be able to get enough of this one. If you haven’t seen it, go Netflix it. Then play the game.
Colella couldn’t confirm future plans, but it’s a good bet that Scientific Games will be releasing more slots based on this film— hopefully even other Python films, or the Flying Circus TV show. They’re all sure to play well with the public: There is something of a Python revival going on right now—troupe members John Cleese and Eric Idle are currently touring the U.S. in a two-man show called Together Again At Last… For the Very first Time. The duo will perform at the Venetian in Las Vegas in November.
Whether or not more Python slots are in the offing, no fan of the troupe, or of this film in particular, will be disappointed by these two games.