Simon the Sorcerer II

Developer/Publisher:  Adventure Soft
Year Released:  1995

Review by Gordon Aplin (November, 1995)
sim2.jpgI must admit to thoroughly enjoying the first Simon the Sorcerer game despite Simon's 'attitude' and so I was eagerly awaiting the sequel, and I am pleased to say that I have not been disappointed. It was good to return to this sort of adventure where there are lots of things to do and plenty of clues to follow and one or two red herrings thrown in for good measure.

Simon is slightly older, but alas, not much wiser and his 'attitude' seems, if anything, to have become worse with a fair sprinkling of sullen insults and put-downs. But then, he is entering that difficult adolescent phase and hopefully he will grow out of it. For his long-term happiness, though, he will certainly need to work on improving his attitude towards women.

In this game the introduction shows how the evil wizard Sordid, vanquished at the end of the previous game, returns from the dead and plots to gain his revenge on our hero. To that end he causes a wardrobe to materialise in Simon's bedroom which promptly whisks the reluctant adventurer back to the land of wizards, goblins and swamplings. Fortunately, Sordid's scheme goes awry and the wardrobe pops up outside the shop of our old friend Calypso. The old fossil, er, sorry, the kindly wizard of mature years patiently explains to Simon that in order to return him home the wardrobe will need its power source recharging with Mucusade. And all the Mucusade is securely locked away in the royal treasury.

The Quest
So, your task, as Simon, is simply to go and get it. Delightfully, the elusive Mucusade provides a worthy quest and you will need lots of stamina and perseverance on this journey. Be prepared to be thwarted time and again even as your goal is seemingly achieved.

Simon the Sorcerer II is not quite so deviously constructed as the first, but it is still a lot of fun. It is one of those games where you can really use your imagination and ingenuity to overcome the many obstacles that are placed in your path. The puzzles, on the whole, aren't too difficult to work out, it's just that they tend to be a little convoluted and getting from A to B may require a detour via XYZ. Of course, it does help if you can still remember some of the fairy tales from your childhood. Personally, I do enjoy this type of challenge and I particularly like the references to other games, the gentle parody of the games industry and the not so sly digs at computer game reviewers. (And we all know which magazines they work for.)

A few laughs
Not all the humour works, but there are quite a few instances that really appealed to me: the arrogant young prince practising with his sword and yelling "Die lower-class scum!" And the member of the Insane Society who had taken a vow of deafness and who, if you write HELLO on your note pad, replies: There's no need to shout. I'm not blind! But the highlight for me was the clever parody of pen and paper role players in the secluded hut towards the end of the game. These guys didn't play Dungeons and Dragons as that was far too much like their real world, but preferred to face accountants and DJ's and politicians, and their characters gained special abilities such as speaking in binary. Sad to say, I could have listened to their conversation for hours and I am sure that many of you will also choose to linger here for a while.

The beauty of this, and similar scenes, was that the conversations went on in the background and you could continue searching and taking things and just ignore them if you wished. It did not require you to click through boring and often pointless conversations before you could get back to the game. After a while, though, Simon will get tired of listening and will simply tune them out for you.

Icons take their turn
This is a very easy game to get into and the interface has been modified only slightly since the original. The word list for actions 'look', 'give', etc. has been replaced by icons and your scrolling inventory has been moved to the middle of the action bar. Of greater significance is the excitingly named F10 feature which allows you to identify all the things you can interact with on screen by the simple expedient of pressing the F10 button on your keyboard. This ensures that you don't overlook that cunningly hidden item and saves time in that you don't need to wave the mouse cursor all over the place. I was dubious of this feature at first, but, surprisingly, it didn't make the game too easy as I feared as the puzzles are sufficiently challenging in themselves and can stand alone without the necessity for pixel hunts. A word of warning though, don't rely on this totally or you may miss a location or two.

The manual points out that you must check the edges of every screen as some of them scroll further to reveal another location. This is very good advice indeed, especially if you think you have done everything possible and are still stuck.

Voices and text
The CD ROM version has speech throughout, though without the voice of Chris Barrie who was Simon in the re-issue of the first game. However, the voice characterisations are still very good and you can always resort to on-screen text if you have trouble following what is being said. Also the text is very easy to read, a significant improvement over the earlier game where the colourful words frequently were lost against the colourful backgrounds.

Simon the Sorcerer II has excellent graphics and some delightful animations. I particularly loved the goblin in the treadmill. The game is quite large and is cleverly broken up into four sections revolving around your pursuit of that darned Mucusade. The first and last sections are the biggest and most convoluted and provide many locations to search. Fortunately, getting around is made easier with the aid of the 'map' which pops up each time you leave a location (which may consist of several screens), and all you need do is click on the next place you'd like to visit. The two intervening sections are smaller and pretty much self contained.

Apart from the fairly blatant sexism which was poorly disguised as humour, my major disappointment was with the fairly abrupt ending which involved a long sequence with no input from me. But I shouldn't really complain as the game overall was thoroughly enjoyable and it does end with the promise of Simon the Sorcerer III.

See the Simon the Sorcerer II walkthrough. rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1995. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
386/40, 4MB RAM, Hard drive, Sound card, CD-ROM, mouse