Work – the curse of the gaming classes.
I avoided playing this in the 90s because I heard it fell into the “unfairly hard” end of the point-and-clock spectrum. But with the advent of internet walkthroughs I have played and finished the first Simon the Sorcerer, so now it’s time for number 2.
Simon, having returned to Earth at the end of the first game, is sent back to the magical world of…actually it doesn’t have a name…by the ghost of the evil Wizard Sordid. Simon must find a way back to earth using only his wits, 4th wall-breaking humour and inexplicable occasional magic powers. And his point-and-click interface.
A few minutes into the game we learn the following:
- Pixel hunting has been removed by adding an “F10” function that highlights all intractable objects. Also there’s only about 3-4 interactable objects per screen, which is eminently manageable. The first thing you should do in a point-and-click game is “look” at every single item; so you don’t want or need too many of them.
- You need to either turn the voices off, or play this game somewhere that ambient sound won’t make the words hard to make out. You can play this game with voice and subtitles on, but they don’t synch together terribly well.
- This game is not as funny as it thinks it is; like a smarmy 14yo on social media. Some of the comedy here is quite good – Pratchett-esque jokes where fantasy tropes and reality mix. I particularly like the “lady in the lake” who talks like a check-out-chick waiting for the end of her shift who just doesn’t care anymore. But lots of jokes are just lame name-parodies, such as a drink called “Mucusade” (like Lucozade! Get it? Get it?). Also you get these:
- You learn of a loan agency that flings rocks at default payers. You go to a locked-up house, which has some mail in the letterbox. By putting the mail in the appropriate tray at the loan agency, they fling a rock at the house, cracking open the front door.
- An annoying person steals one of your items on a beach and won’t give it back. You have a shovel and a towel. “Use” the shovel on the beach sand, and you’ll dig a massive hole. Use the beach towel on the hole, and the annoying person will step on it, falling into the hole, and letting you reclaim your item.
- You need to catch a cat that runs away every time you approach it. It enters a hut with one door in/out. Shut the door, then when you approach the cat it can’t run away.
- You visit the three bears’ house, but they’re not at home. You need them to come home so they can give you a necessary item. But they won’t come home until you turn off their leaking kitchen tap. This is because of….no reason whatsoever. They just don’t walk in the door until you turn off the tap.
- You need to find some perfume for an elf. You have an empty perfume bottle. You find some soda water, but no other obvious ingredients. The solution is to use pepper on the elf (so that he sneezes), then give him a handkerchief (so he blows his nose), then spray the soda water on him – but because he’s just blown his nose he thinks the soda water is perfume because of…reasons.
- My personal favourite – at one stage you need to walk silently past a guard. You have a rabbit. If you click “wear” rabbit, and only if you click “wear” rabbit, Simon will case a spell on the rabbit turning it into bunny slippers. This is the only time in the entire game where Simon is able to use magic like this.
Release date: 1995 on PC (now also available on iOS and Android)
Purchase date: 9 September 2014
Time spent: 10hrs
Developer: Adventure soft
Lead Designer: Simon Woodroffe
Last word: Mechanically superior 90s point and click adventure game. Not as good at storytelling as the greats of this genre, but to be fair, that’s a high bar. Use the net if you get stuck, which thankfully won’t be too often.