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Summary"What’s the point in talking to an empty hole?"
The GoodSo I decided to play Simon the Sorcerer again. Had I not stumbled upon my own review for this game I would have never realized that I already have played it. And then I noticed on many adventure gaming boards that how many people loved this game. So I was thinking that perhaps I was too young to appreciate this game, that perhaps it really is a good game. It was because of those reasons and that my former review of Simon was rather dreadful to read, that I decided to do a review of the review.
Bob the Imaginary Gaming Friend: "Yeah it was pretty bad, especially with lines like: "Well......it did have a nice atmosphere...it was sweet. The game had a innocent fairy-tale like feeling to it....the feeling I have long searched in a fantasy game.It is easy...graphics are tolerable. But if you are searching for originality then I advise you to stay away from this Monkey Island clone(with a sweet fairy-tale alike atmosphere....but it is still a forgettable game)." Like cut it with the dots already."
No wonder the approvers secretly mocked me all these years. It`s a good thing that I`m crazy now. What would I ever do without you Bob? Anyway, it was hard for me to review this game because after playing it I immediately forgot what happened in the game, and since I strive to be as honest as possible I wrote this review while playing the game (well at least parts of it). Bob will fill you out on what other games came out in 1993, just to give some sense of wider picture.
Bob: "Well to many 93 was a great year - Gabriel Knight, Betrayal at Krondor, Quest for Glory 4, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Wing Commander: Privateer, Doom, etc. – but considering that the release date of Simon the Sorcerer is 2 Jan 1993, I think it’s far more honest to compare it with games from 92 - Legend of Kyrandia, Fate of Atlantis, King’s Quest 6. And basically, the last entry from a game series that Simon greatly got inspired from, came out 13 months before Simon the Sorcerer (I’m talking about Monkey Island 2 of course)."
So the following here is a heavily-edited recording of our gaming session. After that, me and Bob will say a few final words and that`ll be that then.
Bob: "Put it on already."
Bob: „Ach! Mine ears! What horrible music.“
That guy in purple is Simon, in case if you were wondering Bob.
Bob: "Some of the comments he makes during the credits sequence are quite amusing - "I would have skipped by now", I was actually thinking of the same thing."
I must say, the voice of Simon is actually a joy to listen to. Well done, Chris Barrie.
Bob: "A boy, living in a perfectly 90’s environment, finds a magic book that transports him to another dimension. Some not-so-funny dialogue between goblins, who intend to eat Simon (btw, the voice acting of goblins wasn't so good at all)... well, I’m excited. Too bad that the animation and character designs are... um... too interesting."
Ahah, see Bob, now he found a letter that tells him that he has been chosen to save some old guy from the hands of Dark Lord Sordid. See? That`s all the plot that this game has. You`ve been told the story and now you must solve some countless puzzles until you can see the ending cutscene.
Bob: "I thought you said that you don`t remember anything about this game. I just hope he doesn't make anymore comments like "not a pizza bar in sight". That was just too unfunny. By the way, did you notice that that horrible credits sequence music is still going on."
Yup, the music just loops endlessly in this game. The interface is just like the interfaces in Lucasarts games, you know: pick up, look, talk, use options and the inventory dividing the screen into half.
Bob: "Which also means that it will rely more on funny dialogues than funny interesting descriptions (like Sierra and Legend did)."
*In the town*
Bob: "I am really getting sick of this credits music. Is some variety too much to ask?"
Ah, a tavern. Drunken Druid – quite a nice name for a tavern, don`t you think?
Bob: "Finally! A different tune. Oh no, it is even more horrible than the one before."
Look at dwarf. Talk to dwarf. Hmm... no response.
Bob: "Talk to those ugly chicks there."
Bob: "Ach... horrible voice-acting."
Simon: "What are your hobbies?"
Valkyrie 1: "I like killing things and drinking a lot."
Valkyrie 2: "And I like needlework and embroidery... and killing things and drinking a lot."
Bob: "Not a bad attempt at humour at all. Unfortunately the voice-acting killed it."
*Exit town. In the Forest*
The backgrounds are actually quite nice. Sure it`s nothing compared to Sierra`s hand-drawn artbook backgrounds, but I`m really fond of this digitized VGA art (partly because I have soft memories of Westwood games from that time). And the forest tune is not overtly terrible either.
Bob: "Ha! So says you."
Boy, you can`t really stand endlessly looping positive midi tunes, can you? If it so pains, I`ve heard that there`s an enhanced music project for this game by some guy called James Woodcock. It will still be looping but now it will at least sound good.
Bob: "Much better. Never underestimate guys called Woodcock's. Thank you, your work has not gone unnoticed. And look, he’s working on to enhance other games also."
Yeah, good for him. I just wish I knew what I`m supposed to do. So far, I`ve picked up many random items like ladders and clangers, talked to many people that want some things and got accused of racism by woodworms. And haven`t really laughed at all. The woodworm thing was mildly amusing though.
Bob: "I liked the barbarian’s "I’m an accountant" line."
Oh dear! That conversation between the goats and the troll has gone on for several minutes.
Bob: "Trolls having a strike against fairy-tale stereotypes is not really your kind of humour, is it?"
Not really, but that`s not the case here. The voice-acting is horrible. So far only Simon has been done well, everyone else sounds just like the designer`s third cousin twice removed. Good voice-acting can make even unfunny things sound funny.
*After some hours, DI has fallen asleep and Bob’s playing the game*
Bob: "Bob’s diary. Entry 101. Been playing some old adventure game for awhile. Still have no goal – in life nor in the game. Picked up a lot of things. Met a lot of interesting folks in need of some things or others. Not much else to talk to them about. Solved many puzzles, got more things. Kissed a princess, which turned her into a pig. Used her on chocolate door. Got a joint for bees. Used it on beehive. Got wax. Still confused. Di’s sleeping, his snores accompanying the solitude of confusion I dwell in. My voice echoes back to me from the lonely halls of a purposeless life. It’s dawning outside. And I ponder on the question "Do all alter-ego’s go to heaven?" What will happen to me if I die? Can I find life everlasting also. Do I exist at all? Who am I?
Just tickled a sleeping dwarf with a feather. Couldn't think of anything else. Worked. Got a key. Now I'm off to find a door for this key to open.“
*After finishing the game*
Bob: "Finished the game. Experienced a pretty anticlimactic and weird finale. By the way Di, there was no ending cutscene. Just some demons dancing."
Haha! Dancing demons. How funny is that.
*The end of the recording*
Bob: "Boy, you really don't know when to stop with the editing. All my best lines were removed. Next time, I’ll edit."
So what did you like about the game?
Bob: "Well I found it quite charming actually. Boring yes, but charming. Some of the jokes were also quite witty. My favorite was the dialogue between Simon and the village druid."
Village Druid: "Leave now or suffer the consequences."
Simon: "I don’t think a man on a rack is in any position to make threats."
Village Druid: "Your emotional torture cannot hurt me, foul fiend."
Yeah, he was great, especially how he insisted on plunging a silver dagger through Simon`s heart just to see if he`s a demon or not.
Village Druid: "Never been wrong yet."
But back to reviewing. Yes, I agree. It was charming: the heartwarming VGA art and the mellow music (especially after the enhancing), some quite witty jokes, the overall old-school fantasy feel of it.
The BadBut it was also terribly boring. Adventure games aren`t just puzzle games. They also need a plot. No, not just a story, but a well-done plot. Monkey Island for example made-up for those crazy puzzles it had with an exciting swashbuckling plot.
Bob: "I would like to add that thanks to Lucasarts IMUSE program Monkey Island 2 had a dynamic soundtrack, which most likely also helped to enhance the appropriate mood for the specific scenes."
And that`s why Simon the Sorcerer fails in my opinion. It is just a collection of random puzzles and an ending sequence with dancing demons. This game hasn`t any tension at all. Which also is bad for the humour, because jokes work best when introduced in with a feeling of tension. I mean, Simon just walked and picked up stuff. There`s nothing funny in seeing a guy walk.
Bob: "I don’t know about that. I laugh when you walk."
Part of the reason I think the early Space Quests were so funny was that because they provided that tension (of course they did that in a survival horror kinda way... perhaps survival comedy is the more appropriate name). And Simon the Sorcerer doesn`t. Not only does it make the game boring in the adventure sense, but also humour, well at least for me, just didn`t do it for me.
Bob: "Of course, we have to take into consideration that it wasn't just your taste. You have a different taste in humour and this game has a different taste. And that is why you did not get it."
Well, what about you?
Bob: "Um... I guess, it's pretty hard in a game to do a correct timing for a joke. And some games go way overboard with jokes and bad puns. Simon the Sorcerer avoided those pitfalls, and that's a good thing in my eyes. Sure, many of the jokes were pretty meh, and there weren't that much jokes at all - for example when Simon looked at something he mostly said "It's an *object x*" and nothing else. But it's way better to keep the jokes few than to throw many of them into and hope that some of them will make the player laugh. No, the biggest fault of Simon is that it's just a boring adventure game."
You do make a point. I guess it`s boring also because many of the dialogues were just "Give me *object x* and I give you *object y*. Deal?" in nature.
Bob: "Yes, this game really did lack characters."
Lot`s caricatures though.
And music while nice, was pretty annoying because it was always looping. Even the better-sounding enhanced music started to bug on my nerves.
Bob: "May my ears never hear cheerful midi tunes ever. And don't forget the voice-acting. Apart from Chris Barrie as Simon, everyone else were dreadful."
Yes. Well that`s just it then. The game is charming, but boring. And the bad parts out-value the good parts in this game. Thus we`ll come to the verdict.
The Bottom LineI would give this game 2 out of 5. What about you?
Bob: "I'm more into 3 out 5 for this one. It is an experience, and not a bad one in visuals and atmosphere. Just mediocre in the overall experience."
So 3+2 equals 5, divide by 2 and it`s going to be 2,5 stars out 5.
As to the usual recommendation, I would say that by judging on how many people liked this game, it is possible that you, dear reader, would enjoy this game.
It's just didn`t work for me.
Bob: "There are great games and there are horrible ones - this game is neither."