Written by  :  Jeanne (76590)
Written on  :  Apr 28, 2003
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Hey, babe, why don't you and me ...

The Good

I have mixed feelings about this game. Simon the Sorcerer 3D is a Windows adventure that acts like an action arcade wannabe. Everything about it screams "console" - from the keyboard-only interface to the "LifePad" restoration points. But, I don't think it was ever released for any console platform. The mouse is supported only for some of the menu operations and those, too, are arcade-like.

The star of this show is, of course, Simon whose off-the-wall comments and unconventional thinking are brought out well in this game. Simon 3D was rated by the ELSPA as 11+ for good reason. The humour is "tongue-in-cheek" and mostly adult in nature, full of sexual innuendos typical of a young male's adolescent mind. Most of the content will go right over the heads of younger players. As an adult, I found the jokes hilarious! Simon was somewhat subtle in his approach and never rude. I was never offended - in fact, it was a refreshing change.

The story has a good plot with many twists and turns, and I'd consider the true "adventure" aspects really good. Puzzles are situation-oriented (do or find this to do or get that) and they're layered rather deeply, so be prepared. The situations are funny and different - some really bizarre (which I understand is typical of this series). Some hints are contained within conversations, so it was helpful to be able to turn Subtitles on for that reason.

The game is divided into six Chapters each with its own in-game map. Hop into one of the strategically placed telephone booths to travel around. This really helps because some of the world maps are really huge.

Yes, there are some "arcade" puzzles. Simon must learn to run away from danger, perform a balancing act on a tightrope, throw some darts, and pick up things using a special yoyo. None of those are particularly hard if you can master the keyboard controls. You can reassign the keyboard keys to suit your own style. (See more comments on the interface below.)

The voice acting is excellent. The music is wonderfully orchestrated and appropriate. There are 42 save game slots - plenty. The manual was well written and easy to understand.

The Bad

Adding "3D" to a game's title seems to signify "new and improved", but that's not true in this case. If Simon 3D had been released several years prior, I might have had a different opinion entirely. Its delay resulted in a game that was outdated when it was finally released. The "3D" technology it advertised was no longer considered innovative, but rather a bad representation of older technology.

The graphics of the environment as well as the characters are blocky and pixelated. Changing the resolution doesn't accomplish more than making the on-screen text and map smaller. For me, the shifts in scene views and "looking through Simon's eyes" were disorienting and unnecessary for gameplay. In addition, parts of the game were too dark while some were too bright. Gamma corrections within the game options are a good feature, but why should I need change the setting more than once?

There's a pretty hefty learning curve especially for anybody accustomed to mouse-driven games. The keyboard-only interface is awkward and could easily have been made more "user friendly." While there is no jumping involved, there are several parts where you must crouch down or run very fast to accomplish the needed task.

Using the keyboard for movement is terrible - mainly because the diagonal keys are not supported. Turning a corner, for instance, is harder than it needs to be because you can only move forward, back, left and right. (Spoiler here - running away from a rolling boulder is not a biggie, but turning 2 blasted corners while you're running is a pain in the behind!)

I didn't like wandering around wondering what to do in the big, wide world with nothing happening. If it weren't for Simon's sense of humor, the travel map and some good hints, I would've quit out of frustration a long time before the end.

The Bottom Line

This is my first "Simon the Sorcerer" game, so I can't compare it to its predecessors. The comedy and the intricately laced puzzles kept me playing, and it really was quite a lot of fun. And it's not short. It will keep you busy for a good long while.

Simon fans will enjoy this for nostalgic reasons, because Simon is still his old whacky self. On the whole, the adventure aspects are diverse and different and you'll definitely need your thinking cap on. If you can get over the weird interface and the not-so-good graphics, you'll find yourself laughing your way through this odd and challenging adventure.