Idle Weekend - Gaming: Discworld

The Defective Inspector uses the reason (excuse) of our Idle Weekend to re-open the file for a game that Eric Idle gave voice to, Discworld....

Now here is a moment you’d probably thought would never come, a moment where Eric Idle and gaming go side by side. While it would be easy to talk about the infamous Monty Python games I find it much more fun to look at where it all began, where Eric Idle first gave his voice to the gaming culture I know and love, in Discworld!

What is Discworld? A question you should never ask. It’s also a world invented by the late and great Terry Pratchett. He created a universe where British humour and a series of remarkably insane circumstances pushes a plot into weird and wonderful place while somehow making it seem grounded and relatable. In the context of the gaming world it is primarily associated with the book ‘Guards! Guards!’ but with plenty of other source material thrown about. The main links are the protagonist/antagonist Rincewind, a wizard who was once quoted to be “the magical equivalent to the number zero”. Rincewind is played by the lovably witty talent that is Eric Idle (Our guest of honour) who’s iconic British accent suited the classic character perfectly.

The gameplay falls within the standard point and click adventure titles similar to anything made by LucasArts. Remarkably LucasArts didn’t touch a single slither of this title (Which is downright odd for the 90s) and instead was developed by Psygnosis, a Liverpool based video entertainment company. Keeping to the quintessential British-ness style of both Idle and Pratchett they created something beautiful and downright hilarious. While comedy and point/click adventures go hand in hand it’s the English isles comedy of Pratchett which makes this game different to its American counterparts like Monkey Island or Day of the Tentacle.

The calibre of the script and voicing acting were far above standard. I want to point out that the legends of British media Jon Pertwee (Famously known as the Third Doctor in Dr Who) and Tony Robinson (Baldrick of Blackadder) both devoted time to this project portraying a variety of roles and thus Idle does not stand alone. I am unsure if it was for budget reasons or sheer excellence in voice acting skill but all 3 actors took on a variety of extra characters, not limiting themselves to one particular chancellor, wizard, dragon or embodiment of death itself. Eric Idle was more than just a voice actor, while the official credits do not show direct involvement various discussions, interviews and forum speculation consider the comedy to be a bit too Python for Idle to have stood by idly. It’s also important to point out all reviews of this game praise the acting and script, so our beautiful little South Shields saint truly made this game worth talking about. Sadly, that’s where the positive points end…

The learning curve on this game is horrific. It’s a well-established almost impossible to complete game and considered more of a digital punishment than family fun time. Problem is back in the 90s that was the expected norm, you’d be considered a fool if you couldn’t work out the broom from the closet was used to poke the snoring chest which awakens it to act as a following companion who can hold your brick-a-brack. That wasn’t made up by the way, that was a genuine event from the first few minutes of the game! Back when the Spice Girls were all the rage and the internet was still working at bytes per second the clever b*stards of business knew if they made a nigh impossible title you’d need to purchase a walkthrough from the local game shop. I won’t pretend I played this game and completed it, in fact I never owned it. My primary source of knowledge for this review is the burnt in trauma caused by occasional visit to my only friend who owned a Sega Saturn. That was more than enough sadomasochism activity for an 8-year-old without mentioning yew trees.

So is the game worth playing? Damn f’ing right it is. We now live in an age of the internet, I can find out just about anything with the power of Google or at a push Yahoo (Not Bing, never Bing…). So if you want to enjoy beautiful comedy and don’t feel the need to smash your digital dangle into the door load up a wiki and have fun. Well… If you can find an original PC version of the game, it’s never been re-released… legally.

Images from Wikipedia and
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