The British are known for brevity and wit, especially when it comes to popular culture. Notably, British televisional comedy is renowned across the world and is held as an example of these principles. The quintessential example is Fawlty Towers, the oft-repeated, oft-quoted comedy about the life of Hotelier Basil Fawlty, topping comedy lists across the globe. Despite lasting from 1975 to 79, for 12 short episodes. In the year 2000, offering fans a chance to spruce up their home computers with the infamous Torquey hotel, in the Fawlty Towers Comedy Pack.
The C.D. offers a broad multimedia experience, one that is rendered with Macromedia Director. The main menu of this package is the iconic lobby of the Fawlty Towers hotel lobby. Or at least a computer rendering of the lobby, despite some crow’s feet, the recreation is not bad, but hardly the draw. You also get access to a Windows theme customiser, allowing you to augment your system and show off your love of selected scenes from the series, either in 800×600 or 1024×768 resolution. Returning to the lobby, and to the left lies the office with a video player, allowing you to relive clips of the show. While this feature might not get much use today, (what with D.V.D.s, streaming services, and YouTube), it is included and offers an abundance of clips Though sacrifices have been made to fit them all on the disc. Running at 15 frames with a smaller resolution than modern audiences would be accustomed to.
The height of the package lies in the games, three to be precise that entertain, and even a formidable challenge to the devoted fans of the show. Starting off the list is “The Manager’s Fawlty” an experience that is akin to Mario Party, you (and or a friend, up to four people) select a token/favourite character and roll the dice to make it around the board. Landing on squares that include characters, like the Major, can set you back a certain number of spaces. You also get Sybil’s Wig cards that lead to interactive mini games, nothing too demanding, just taking care of rats, solving a sliding puzzle, etc. The second is called “Got a room, Mate?” where you must use logic and deduction to assign famous guests to the correct room. Clues can be gained from Basil’s description, though after watching the episodes many times while growing up, even I was stumped. Last, but certainly not least, is “Pack Your Bags”, where you control Basil (plus his iconic red car), picking up ex-hotel guests off the street navigating around Torquey, that here looks like a cross between the animated sections of Monty Python, and the Land of the Living from Grim Fandango.
With the advent of the Internet, younger readers might wonder about the necessity of such a package. While rapidly growing the tech and flash were becoming dominant for online multimedia at the time, your experience often varied. Whether this compilation would have worked better as an online website, is a question I cannot answer, but having this collection on a C.D., without relying on the internet is a pleasant feature.
With only 12 episodes, you would not think there would be enough content to fill 600 Megabytes of pure activities, but you would be wrong. The product bathes in the nostalgia of the show, offering ample amounts of referential in-jokes and iconic scenes, to relive and refit your P.C. with. The games show an impressive level of devotion to the show while being entertaining enough for the layman to both grasp and have fun with. Whatever your reason to check-in, you should find your stay in the Fawlty Towers Comedy Pack C.D. a comfortable one.
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