Each Vintage Vault review looks at the games of our past and decides whether they stand the test of time. If they do they become Vaulted and gain eternal protection from The Great Eye – Loganius. If they fail they get thrown in The Pixel Pit and receive eternal damnation. Let the trials begin.
Inspired by the Discworld series and Blackadder, and drawing comedic parallels to The Lord of the Rings and Jack and the Beanstalk, Simon the Sorcerer is a point-and-click game that was initially developer by Adventure Soft for the Amiga and MS-DOS formats in 1993. It was the first installment in the Simon the Sorcerer series of games and soon gained notoriety in the genre.
The game revolves around a young boy named Simon – pretty obvious really! One day Simon is busy doing his homework like the good boy that he is, when suddenly his dog begins barking in the loft (attic for the American’s reading). Upon investigating he finds a mysterious looking book called Ye Olde Spellbook. Simon is not interested in the book and launches it but as it hits the floor a portal to another dimension opens. his dog jumps through and Simon has little choice but to follow him to rescue the poor pooch.
Your first task is to become a sorcerer, then you are able to use the spellbook. This is the start of your journey whereby you must rescue a wizard called Calypso from an evil sorcerer named Sordid. However you have to find a magical staff, and of course along the way you will run into many twists and turns and problems of various extremities. With these problems come puzzles, but the game generally explains what you need to solve these rather well. If you get stuck the Wise Owl will be able to assist – giving a huge helping hand to any struggling player.
You start off with a postcard, which is used for saving the game, Calypso’s note and a map. The postcard is what you can use to save your progress and the rest are, well, self-explanitory.
Along the way you meet some fantastic characters, with a rather depressed Swampling, a giant, dragon, witches – everything you would expect from a fantasy adventure – but all of which comes with amazingly written humor. There is even an appearance from Gollum who uses the line “don’t hurt us, don’t let them hurt us precious! Nice Hobbitses,” upon your first meeting. Your answer to this can be “I hope this isn’t an infringement of copyright!”
The game is a point-and-click adventure and uses a SCUMM-bar, like most LucasArts games did back in the day. The bar itself contains various options such as ‘Walk to’, ‘Consume’ and ‘Talk to’. The interactivity is amazing, with many items allowing you to click or pick up (the inventory in the game is your magical hat). And of course you can talk to most characters on screen. Like most adventures of this type you can use items to solve puzzles and can also combine items together to make new items.
Dialogue is simple enough especially as usually there is only one answer that you can select that would make much sense. A lot of the other answers are usually insults or random lines of speech. However it is humorous to experiment with these too. The great thing is that, if you select an insult instead of the ‘correct answer’ you will be able to initiate a second or third conversation until you choose the right dialogue.
The items can be rather hard to find, and I did at times find myself “pixel hunting” items down…scanning the page with my mouse cursor and clicking around until I found an item . These items are few and far between, but they do add a small level of frustration. Asides from this the graphical representation is fantastic.
The music is the game could be described as experimental, however it does give a great atmosphere for the game. It is rather upbeat, humorous and has a great arrangement of tones that really suit the genre.
With the re-release of the title on CD-ROM the developers added voice-overs, with Chris Barrie taking the role of the titular Simon. To this day I cannot un-hear Chris Barrie in this role, even when I play the original variant.
The laid-back style of gameplay that comes with any point-and-click adventures is very appealing to many players. As a genre that is rather lacking with modern-day content a lot of people revisit the older titles, especially when they have experienced them in their youth. Playing Simon the Sorcerer again has been a rollercoaster ride of nostalgia and a chance to bellow out in laughter at the amazing humor of Mike Woodroffe’s team as Adventure Soft.
Few titles for me match the wit and style of the Discworld games, but Simon the Sorcerer was definitely in my top five point-and-click adventures. Today it still stands the test of time. I announce this game Vaulted.