Simon the Sorcerer II
Of lions, wizards and wardrobes.
Sordid, vanquished at the end of Simon the Sorcerer I, returns from the dead and plots to gain his revenge on our hero. To that end he causes a wardrobe to materialize in Simon’s bedroom which promptly whisks the reluctant adventurer back to the land of wizards, goblins and swamplings. Fortunately, Sordid’s scheme goes awry and the wardrobe pops up outside the shop of our old friend Calypso. The old wizard patiently explains to Simon that in order to return him home the wardrobe will need its power source recharging with Mucusade.
Simon the Sorcerer II is not quite so deviously constructed as the first, but it is still a lot of fun. It is one of those games where you can really use your imagination and ingenuity to overcome the many obstacles that are placed in your path. The puzzles, on the whole, aren’t too difficult to work out, it’s just that they tend to be a little convoluted and getting from A to B may require a detour via XYZ. Of course, it does help if you can still remember some of the fairy tales from your childhood. Personally, I do enjoy this type of challenge and I particularly like the references to other games, the gentle parody of the games industry and the not so sly digs at computer game reviewers. (And we all know which magazines they work for.)
Not all the humor works, but there are quite a few instances that really appealed to me: the arrogant young prince practicing with his sword and yelling “Die lower-class scum!” And the member of the Insane Society who had taken a vow of deafness and who, if you write HELLO on your note pad, replies: There’s no need to shout. I’m not blind! But the highlight for me was the clever parody of pen and paper role players in the secluded hut towards the end of the game. Sad to say, I could have listened to their conversation for hours and I am sure that many of you will also choose to linger here for a while.
A few vital interface changes make gameplay a lot more streamlined. For instance, you don’t need to use the traditional SCUMM interface in order to interact with environment, since now you may use special icons which serve about the same function. Pixel hunts are at least eliminated with the help of the F10 key, which identifies every usable object seen onscreen. I was dubious of this feature at first, but, surprisingly, it didn’t make the game too easy as I feared as the puzzles are sufficiently challenging in themselves.
Simon the Sorcerer II is quite large and is cleverly broken up into four sections revolving around your pursuit of that darned Mucusade. The first and last sections are the biggest and most convoluted and provide many locations to search. Fortunately, getting around is made easier with the aid of the ‘map’ which pops up each time you leave a location (which may consist of several screens); and all you need do is click on the next place you’d like to visit. The two intervening sections are smaller and pretty much self contained.
Simon the Sorcerer 2 isn’t without a few faults. There are a couple of really annoying bugs in the DOS version, when you are in the pirate ship and don’t do the actions in a determinate order you get stuck and can’t go on! About as annoying are also some of the puzzles, like the one with the balloons. But in all, this is still a fair and high quality fairy tale adventure featuring one of gaming’s underrated animated heroes.
System Requirements: 80486/33 MHz, 4 MB RAM, DOS