Most of you will be familiar with Monkey Island, the adventure adventure from LucasArts. But do you still know Simon The Sorcerer? The little wizard made his first appearance in 1993 when Adventure Soft put him on screen. Simon The Sorcerer was released on September 27, 1993 for Amiga and MS-DOS and rode on the adventure wave triggered by Monkey Island. After the studio had previously mainly produced horror games and was therefore also called Horror Soft, it was renamed Adventure Soft in the wake of Simon and the other titles in the series, in order to be able to appeal to a wider audience without age ratings.
With the first part, Director Mike Woodroffe and his son Simon, who took on the design and was the namesake for the hero, started a series of games that still enjoys a large fan base today. At least the first two parts, because the successors still have a certain charm, but were never able to build on the success. That's why we're only devoting ourselves to the first two games here.
Now we've talked a lot, but what is Simon The Sorcerer all about? The eponymous Simon lives in modern England and celebrates his 12th birthday, where a magician appears and inspires him with his tricks. After the party, he and his parents find a little dog on their doorstep that Simon calls Chippy. Strangely enough, he has a book with him that nobody can read, so it is simply banished to the attic.
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We get in when Simon hears Chippy barking in the attic and wants to see what's going on. The book with the title "Ye Olde Spellbooke" lies on the floor and when Simon opens it, a shimmering portal appears. Chippy doesn't hesitate long and trudges through, so Simon follows.
And then we find ourselves in a magical parallel world, where we are first put into a saucepan by a group of stupid goblins. But Simon is clever and can break free! Looking for help, we find a house on the edge of a small village and a note in it. Apparently the magician Calypso brought us into this new world so that we could save him from the nasty Sordid. And the adventure begins!
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walk, look, open, move, consume, take, close, use, remove, carry, give and talk to someone. We use these to find our way around the world, to interact with items and people or to solve the mostly logical and funny puzzles. Our inventory is also shown. When Simon picks up or receives something, he stuffs it into his wizard's hat. This also includes absurdly large things like a living pig or a metal detector. There is also a map on which, as soon as you find it, fast travel points are drawn so that you don't always have to cover the sometimes lengthy routes. With the postcard you can finally save or load your game.
Guybrush meets Harry
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Humor and self-reflection. The 12-year-old protagonist himself is said to be a mixture of Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island, the failed magician Rincewind from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and the satirical character Blackadder portrayed by Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean).
He gets the order from Calypso to become a real magician and seeks out a group of magicians in the local pub, who have dressed up as farmers and still look like magicians. Like Harry Potter, who appeared only four years later, he becomes a sorcerer's apprentice and has adventures that are much more crazy than those at Hogwarts.
Of swamp soup and parodies
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Among other things, Simon meets strange characters such as a pig that was turned into a princess as a punishment. A group of socialist woodworm revolutionaries, a striking bridge troll and the ever-popular boggler who turns him his swamp soup and whose very first friend he becomes.
But not only the crazy characters, for whom Simon has to do jobs or whom he offers his help, distinguish the game. There are many influences, like Terry Pratchett's Discworld already mentioned, but also Lord of the Rings, Monty Python and Red Dwarf. The developers insist on parodying well-known books and fairy tales such as Rapunzel, the Chronicles of Narnia or Jack and the Beanstalk, which Simon eagerly comments.
Itself is the game character
Because the little sorcerer's apprentice is well aware that he is in a game and is not afraid to share it more often. Then the fourth wall is broken through and Simon speaks to us directly, or he mentions in a dialogue to other characters that they don't follow the adventure game rules. That very much reflects the time when many games, but especially point-and-click adventures like Simon The Sorcerer and Monkey Island, played with self-reflection and breaking through the fourth wall.
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This can also be seen in the dialog options, which we usually do not necessarily have to work through, but should definitely. Because they offer fun information, funny conversations and interesting reactions from the other characters. Conveniently, Simon The Sorcerer was one of the few international games at the time that got a German voiceover, which is also pretty well done.
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actually that it's all over, but Sordid pulls him back into the parallel world, where he has to face strange things again. We meet the Bogling again, who has now opened a huge restaurant, buy strange things from a seedy gangster in the jungle and take part in a magic contest. You can take a look at the sequels, but let's be honest, Simon The Sorcerer and the sequel are the best games in the series.
It's not for nothing that the parts are now even available for iOS and Android and in the 25th Anniversary Edition on Steam. If you don't like the soft focus, you can simply set the game to the original settings, as we did.
The technology may not be the latest and the pixel optics may not be for everyone. But if you always fondly remember the classics of the point-and-click era, you will still have fun with Simon today.
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Of course I didn't play Simon The Sorcerer until later, in 1993 I was just two years old! But when I got my hands on it for the first time, I was hopelessly addicted to the world of Harry Potter and found everything to do with wizards and other worlds absolutely cool. So it's no wonder that Simon picked me up immediately and brought me into his weird and crazy fantasy level. I can still laugh at the humor today, appreciate the parodies and love it when Simon speaks to me directly, as if we had a cool inside joke. I am a fan and I will stay one!
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