Simon the Sorceror (AGA) (Second Review)

Title          Simon the Sorceror (AGA) (Second Review)
Category       Adventure
Players        1
Company	       Adventure Soft (UK)
HD Installable Yes
Compatibility  2MB AGA (But see comment)
Submission     Cathy Macdonald Profiled Reviewer

The story originates with Simon's 12th birthday, when a scruffy little dog
arrives on his doorstep with a mysterious book in its mouth. The dog,
Chippy, is adopted and the book is put in the loft. The book is left
forgotten until, some years later, Simon receives a note saying (more or
less) that Calypso the Wizard has been kidnapped by the evil Sordid, and
could he rescue him please?  This is the ultimate object of the game -
after you (Simon) become a wizard.

"Simon The Sorcerer" continues the point-&-click graphic adventure style
introduced by Lucas Arts' innovative "Monkey Island" series.  In my
opinion, Adventure Soft have improved the graphic quality of the genre.
I'm particularly impressed by the fluidity of Simon's animation. This
would be the result of Kevin Preston (the animator) originating him as a
hand-drawn animated character before the digital work. (Compare older
graphic adventures you may have, and you should see the difference).
Backgrounds and other character designs are well drawn too, very much in
the style of "Lure Of The Temptress" and "Curse Of Kyrandia" (though much
improved on the latter).  I had problems getting it to run on my A500+,
which I put down to the accelerator, but not so. It works fine on the
A1200. So, I suggest that realistically the minimum compatible system is
an expanded '030 HDD. You have been warned.  With this spec, the game runs
flawlessly and is totally stable (pity Silmarils couldn't figure it - see
"Ishar" reviews).

Simon starts out at Calypso's cottage, where he finds the letter about the
wizard's predicamant. After picking up anything remotely useful in the
cottage, you can head east towards the village to meet people of varying
degrees of helpfulness. But such things change as the game progresses. In
the early stages, try heading off to the woods, where things start to get
more interesting! (Da Da Da Da Dummmm.... or cue appropriate atmospheric
music).  As with all graphic adventures, the game is played 3rd person POV
as you click on-screen items, panel buttons and speech menus to carry out
various actions.  All very familiar, no real change there except in
quality of graphics and execution. This game also provides a map, in
Simon's inventory, which reveals areas as you discover them. It's pretty
general, so you are advised to draw your own.  However, its main asset is
in allowing you to jump to a place without having to walk Simon all the
way along paths etc.  The least helpful jump area is "centre of the woods"
- you still have to remember the paths to take to specific bits within the
woods. Sometimes it's easier to jump to "village" or "troll bridge" if you
know that it's closer. The game is full of interesting, amusing,
colourful, original and familiar (in-literature) characters, and there's
plenty to do for someone with imagination and an eagle eye. Thankfully,
there are loads of save spaces (possibly only limited by HDD space).  The
animated cut-scenes are not only informative, but very entertaining. You
do have the option, though, of cutting back to the chase, with RMB, if
you've viewed a scene (often enough) before.

So, how was it to play?  Ah, you need a twisted mind - in the nicest
possible sense. Things can get a bit convoluted and contrived, and even a
bit frustrating, at times, when "how to" seems utterly unfathomable.  But
there's always a way. It helps, of course, if you've been brought up on
fairy tales (still watch the Disney epics) with a bit of Tolkien, Dean
Foster and a touch of "Ali Baba" thrown in! (The learned among you will
notice that  copyright is deftly avoided by calling a certain individual
"Golum" rather than "Gollum".  Though, I'm sure Christopher, son of
J.R.R,. won't mind). It may be that you don't actually have to use
everything that you find - or perhaps there's more than one solution
(which would be more imaginative than pure linearity).  I venture to say
this because I never did find a use for that troll's placard. Ah well, if
Simon hadn't met that poor barbarian, who gave him a (seemingly) soundless
whistle, in exchange for taking the thorn out of his foot, there'd be no
placard to worry about 'cos he wouldn't get past the troll otherwise.  You
getting the idea? Totally logical, you think?  Oh, but it gets even better!

Overall? Very challenging and loads of fun!  In fact, I reckon I enjoyed
this graphic adventure even more than both "Monkey Island"s put together.
It's a laugh even if you don't know what's going on half the time.  Go for

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