Simon the Sorcerer 2 (completed)

Work - the curse of the gaming classes.

After a short interlude caused by the necessity of earning a living, I have returned to my comfy gaming chair with my next game - Simon the Sorcerer 2!


I avoided playing this in the 90s because I heard it fell into the "unfairly hard" end of the point-and-clock spectrum.  But with the advent of internet walkthroughs I have played and finished the first Simon the Sorcerer, so now it's time for number 2.

You may say it's cheating.  And it is, but really so is brute-searching every combination of item and object.  Yet only one of those two options is fun.  So let's begin...

Simon, having returned to Earth at the end of the first game, is sent back to the magical world of...actually it doesn't have a name...by the ghost of the evil Wizard Sordid.  Simon must find a way back to earth using only his wits, 4th wall-breaking humour and inexplicable occasional magic powers.  And his point-and-click interface.

A few minutes into the game we learn the following:
  • Pixel hunting has been removed by adding an "F10" function that highlights all intractable objects.  Also there's only about 3-4 interactable objects per screen, which is imminently manageable.  The first thing you should do in a point-and-click game is "look" at every single item; so you don't want or need too many of them.
  • You need to either turn the voices off, or play this game somewhere that ambient sound won't make the words hard to make out.  You can play this game with voice and subtitles on, but they don't synch together terribly well.
  • This game is not as funny as it thinks it is; like a smarmy 14yo on social media.  Some of the comedy here is quite good - Pratchett-esque jokes where fantasy tropes and reality mix.  I particularly like the "lady in the lake" who talks like a check-out-chick waiting for the end of her shift who just doesn't care anymore.  But lots of jokes are just lame name-parodies, such as a drink called "Mucusade" (like Lucozade!  Get it?  Get it?).  Also you get these:
Yes, she has tits.  Girls have tits.  Hohohohoho.

The puzzles are mostly obvious, with an emphasis on exploration rather than arcane logic.  Solving the puzzles mostly requires you visiting all of the locations then applying information/items from one spot to another spot.  The pacing of this works quite well, because you can't just blow through all the puzzles in one location in one go.

It's impossible to give you an idea of the normal puzzle-difficulty without some examples, so here are a few SPOILERS:
  • You learn of a loan agency that flings rocks at default payers.  You go to a locked-up house, which has some mail in the letterbox.  By putting the mail in the appropriate tray at the loan agency, they fling a rock at the house, cracking open the front door.
  • An annoying person steals one of your items on a beach and won't give it back.  You have a shovel and a towel.  "Use" the shovel on the beach sand, and you'll dig a massive hole.  Use the beach towel on the hole, and the annoying person will step on it, falling into the hole, and letting you reclaim your item.
  • You need to catch a cat that runs away every time you approach it.  It enters a hut with one door in/out.  Shut the door, then when you approach the cat it can't run away.
So a pretty good level of difficulty.  Not extremely obvious, but you'll probably figure out the answer fairly quickly.  Except...

...except when you won't.  I can see why this game has a reputation for "what the hell?" puzzles.  In a few places the logic here makes absolutely no sense and you'd have to either brute-search your way through or looked for a solution.  For example (SPOILERS):
  • You visit the three bears' house, but they're not at home.  You need them to come home so they can give you a necessary item.  But they won't come home until you turn off their leaking kitchen tap.  This is because of....no reason whatsoever.  They just don't walk in the door until you turn off the tap.
  • You need to find some perfume for an elf.  You have an empty perfume bottle.  You find some soda water, but no other obvious ingredients.  The solution is to use pepper on the elf (so that he sneezes), then give him a handkerchief (so he blows his nose), then spray the soda water on him - but because he's just blown his nose he thinks the soda water is perfume because of...reasons.
  • My personal favourite - at one stage you need to walk silently past a guard.  You have a rabbit. If you click "wear" rabbit, and only if you click "wear" rabbit, Simon will case a spell on the rabbit turning it into bunny slippers.  This is the only time in the entire game where Simon is able to use magic like this.
There aren't too many of these but when they happen the entire game screeches to a halt and you want to throw things at the screen.  Thank God for the internet.

I think he's referring to the wi-fi connection

Overall?

It's a good point-and-click from late in the "golden point and click" era.  It's more playable than Monkey Island because of the F10 function and a better balancing of objects/items/information per section.  It probably has a few more annoying impossible-puzzles than the Lucasarts games, but not too many more, and with the internet that's not the hassle that it once was.

So yes, it's recommended.  Probably its biggest failing is that Simon is not really likeable; he's very smug with his own genius but most of his "wit" involves repeating things with a sarcastic tone of voice.  It's interesting to compare to Monkey Island because mechanically, StS:2 is probably a better game.  But it's less enjoyable because the story-telling isn't quite as good.

Release date:     1995 on PC (now also available on iOS and Android)
Purchase date:   9 September 2014
Platform:           PC
Time spent:       10hrs
Developer:        Adventure soft
Lead Designer: Simon Woodroffe


Last word:  Mechanically superior 90s point and click adventure game.  Not as good at storytelling as the greats of this genre, but to be fair, that's a high bar.  Use the net if you get stuck, which thankfully won't be too often.

Comments

  1. What is a blog without followers? Pretty lonely I guess. Time to say hello again.

    Using a walkthrough is absolutely valid to me. Even back when I was a little boy and there was no internet around, me and my friend would buy various gaming zines and check out the tips/tricks/cheat pages. That's just how it is.

    And we had way more time at our disposal than I have today, running a family and showing up at work every day.

    Also some games are just not that approachable anymore. Maybe they never were in the first place. Perspective has shifted. I tried Ultima I for example and this is really a tough one to play today. All the AD&D games as well. Starts with character and party creation. Heavy stuff. And makes or breaks your game.

    Or Eye of the Beholder. Who the hell wants to draw dungeon maps on graph paper? 15 years ago that was the shit, today I just want to google for a map. Might take away the fun, but I want to see the game. I want to see many games. And I want to finish them. So as the world around me advances why not benefit from it? And there are still many game that require sheer skill. You can read a guide or check out a walkthrough on YouTube. In the end you need those button smashing skills.

    One of the next games on my backlog is Darkseed, an adventure game from 1992. I will use a walkthrough 100%. Me and my friend started Darkseed back when it was first released and WE GAVE UP. Pretty sure I won't make it today without looking up the puzzles.

    Cheers and keep playing,

    Andreas aka Fred Edison

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    Replies
    1. Followers most welcome! Actually now you mention it...where is my followers widget? I'll have to fix that. No followers = sad blog.

      Yeah I hate using cheats/walkthroughs but you're right, at the end of the day the point is to have fun, not jump through arbitrary hoops. That said I did map my way through BT1 about 7 years ago and had a blast. But not, I suppose, so much of a blast that I'd do it again. Especially with so many good games to see out there.

      The info dump at the start of an RPG is an interesting point - booting up Wizardy 8 I spent something like 4 hours just getting a grip on different class/race combinations. I love old-skool RPGs but one thing I do NOT miss is being forced to make game-long decisions about classes/races/skills when you haven't started the game so have no way of knowing what works and what doesn't.

      On that point - have you tried Wasteland 2? It's a modern RPG that uses a lot of old RPG conventions, such as the infodump at the start. It's interesting to see which of those old conventions hold up and which ones don't. I love the game but (for eg) the design practically begs for save-scumming, a standard in Wiz 6 + 7. Which is about as fun as sitting around rolling a pair of dice until you come up double-six (i.e. no fun at all).

      Darkseed! I will be watching your blog with great interest for that. I wanted to play that game so much as a kid, I even have the physical copy lying around. But could never get it to work on my machine, so damned buggy. Where are you getting it? Is it on GOG or Steam or such?

      Cheers,

      Steve aka Mr Backlog


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