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Mike Woodroffes Spezialität waren bislang abenteuerlichen Blutorgien wie "Elvira" oder "Waxworks" - doch auch witzig-spritzige Sprites im Stil von "Monkey Island" sind für den Mann kein Problem!

Simon the Sorcerer DOSen-Abenteurer wissen es schon seit drei Monaten: Auf den ersten und zweiten Blick könnte man Mikes humorige Marchen-Persiflage ohne weiteres für ein Game von Lucas Arts halten. Doch mag die Präsentation auch bei den Kollegen und der Inhalt bei den Gebrüdern Grimm abgespickt sein, gut geklaut ist nun mal immer noch viel besser als schlecht erdacht...

Simon the Sorcerer Die Vorgeschichte erzählt vom 12jährigen Simon (benannt nach dem Sohn des Maestros), dem am Geburtstag ein merkwürdiger Hund samt Zauberbuch zuläuft. Unnötig zu sagen, dass der Knabe am nächsten Morgen im Märchenlände aufwacht, wo er in der Hütte des Zauberers Calypso über einen Brief stolpert. Darin steht, dass er, Simon, dazu ausersehen sei, ihn, Calypso, aus den Klauen des bösen Sordid zu retten. Die Aufgabe verlangt es von unserm jungen Weltenwanderer, dass er erst mal selbst ein Magier wird, weshalb es sich gut trifft, dass in der Kneipe um die Ecke ein paar gelangweilte Spellcaster herumlungern - gegen das Anschleppen von ein paar zauberhaften Items wären sie nämlich nicht abgeneigt, ihn ihre Zunft aufzunehmen.

Und schon ist das Abenteuer in vollem Gange, wobei wirklich kaum ein Märchen-Klischee von Mr. Woodroffes ätzendem Humor verschont bleibt. Zu den zwerchfellerschütterndsten Szenen gehört dabei sicher die Begegnung mit der "weisen" Eule, welche in Wahrheit schier überhaupt nix mehr auf die Reihe kriegt. Stark auch die Sequenz, in der sich ein Brückentroll exquisite Wortgefechte mit zwei Ziegen liefert, um schließlich alte Gewerkschaftslieder absingend, seine Brücke zu sperren und in den Generalstreik zu treten...

Amiga Joker Hit So weit, so schrill, aber wie hat man nun die technische Transplantation vom PC auf die "Freundin" hingekommen? Nun, insgesamt wirklich sehr ordentlich. Zwar braucht man hier anderthalb Megabyte unter der Haube, um das Game von der Festplatte zu spielen, doch verschont auch die Disk-Version den Besitzer eines Zweitlaufwerks weitgehend vor Wechseleien. Die bunte 3D-Optik, in der Simon lustig, sauber und annehmbar schnell animiert herumläuft, läßt auf den ersten Blick kaum einen Unterschied zum Original erkennen, und die Point & Click Steuerung ist sowieso nahezu identisch mit der von "Monkey Island", funktioniert also bestens. Last but not least wären noch die verschiedenen angenehm vor sich hindudelnden Musikstücke erwähnenswert, denen man auch nach geraumer Spieldauer noch nicht den Saft abdreht.

Simon the Sorcerer ist also ein Game, wie wir es am Amiga schon viel zu lange nicht mehr hatten - ein rundum gelungenes, herrlich schräges Grafik-Adventure mit nicht immer ganz leichten Rätseln. Fazit: Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, dann lachen und knobeln sie heute noch... (jn)

Amiga Joker, January 1994, p.?

Amiga Joker
1,5 MB (HD)

Simon the Sorcerer logo  CU Amiga Screen Star

Tony Gill likes a joke (he must do, or else he wouldn't wear his hair like that!) so we gave him Adventure Soft's latest rib-tickling adventure to review.

Simon the Sorcerer Any fool can be funny, but you've got to be clever to be witty. A joke attempts to make you laugh, but a witty remark invites you to understand it and, if you do, then you'll feel both amused and pleased with yourself. Simon the Sorcerer is very, very witty. It's also easy to tell it's English, because they've spelt the swear words correctly!

Simon is a graphic adventure game in the same mouth as such blockbusters as Monkey Island and Indiana Jones. Unlike those megagames that come from America, this game is a homegrown product from a small British company called Adventure Soft. Okay, I know that at this point the wiser heads among you will be pursing their lips and switching into sceptic mode; but that's all right, I like a fight. Right then, just let me slip into my John Bull waistcoat and lace up my Yank-Kicking boots, and we'll begin, (Cue 'Land of Hope and Glory.)

Simon the Sorcerer Let's face it, is it likely that a game from a small, English software house van produce something which can really compare to the games from huge American companies employing legions of art directors, squads of software designers and zillions of dollars? No, it's not likely. Nevertheless, they've only gone and done it.

The plot of this crazy story involves a modern teenager being sucked into a world of wizards and magic. And you'll be surprised to know that he must save this sad kingdom from the bad guy with an unpronouncable name. Nothing new there then. You could say that what we have here is the plot for 'Adrian Mole Goes To Hobbitland'. In short it's English hunour at its best. It's sharp, wicked and at times a little rude. Simon is a teenager with a dog, an attitude problem and a walkman. The dog is left behind in the early stages of the adventure, but the boy's attitude stays with him to the bitter end. Simon also keeps his walkman available just in case should you pause for thought. If he gets bored waiting for your next great idea, he will remover his wizard's hat, put on the earphones and listen to music until you make your next move.

Simon the Sorcerer map The game's scenario takes place against a background of enchanted forests, snow-covered mountains, picturesque villages and dingy dungeons. The characters and incidents in this magical adventure are culled from a variety of folktales which you'll have no difficulty recognising. You'll meet Billy Goats Gruff, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. All of the graphics are brilliant, with some of the animated forest scenes reminiscent of Disney's Bambi. As you wander in the forest you'll be accompanied by flitting butterflies, cutesy birds and the occasional wolf.

Admittedly, if you happen to have been stuck with a problem for the last two days, the cutest of floppy bunnies will get on your wick, but on the whole I thought it looked really good.

Simon the Sorcerer The guy who turned out to be my favourite character, and I'm sure you are going to love him too, is the Swampling. Imagine that you held a party and nobody came - that's the fate of the poor Swampling. There he is with a cauldron of mud stew, and nobody to help him eat it. Now surely you won't be as hardhearted as the rest of the forest creatures? All he wants is someone to drop in for a little while, play a few games, and enjoy a nourishing bowl with him. Euck! The Swampling's house is beautifully drawn, and the animated sequences which take place inside his hollow tree home are guaranteed to make you chuckle

There is a constant musical background to the game which can be turned off if you like, but in this cae I actually found I liked it - and when did you last hear a reviewer say that? In the interests of balance it should be mentioned that the neighbours called round to say that they thought it was rotten, but then it was 2am.

Simon the Sorcerer Adventure games are great fun when you are getting somewhere, but they can drive you nuts when you get stuck. Game producers never know what to do about this problem; should they enclose a hint book with the game, provide a telephone help-line, or just leave you to the tender mercies of Vampyra? In this case Adventure Soft has decided to provide two lines of attack. Firstly there is a built-in mentor in the form of a wise old owl. In the centre of the forest an old owl sits snoozing in a tree. If you speak to the owl he will provide random nuggets of information which will give you clues concerning the sneakier puzzles, but just to keep things fair his information is also mixed in with other homilies such as: 'Always brush your teeth after meals'. As Simon is the original smart-Alec teenager, you can guess what he makes of these remarks.

If the owl's cryptic hints still don't provide enhough information to get you out of the mire then you can ring Adventure Soft directly. Each evening between six and seven you can ring 021 352 0847 and put your questions directly to one of the game designers. This service is available because Adventure Soft also want to tak to you, find out what you like and what you would like to see in future games.

Simon the Sorcerer vs the Swampling The game uses those controls that now appear to have become the standard for graphic adventures. No typing is required, so there is no need to guess some unlikely word of phrase to solve a problem. Any objects that have any importance will be indicated as the mouse pointer passes over them by the appearance of their written description on-screen. This does mean that these objects are sometimes deliberately drawn a might small and difficult to find, but in the main this isn't a problem.

A full list of possible commands is permanently displayed on the lower half of the screesn, and you simply select the commands you wish to use. You can also 'click' on the object you have in your list of possessions to examine or to use them. There are a few cases where you must issue a command to combine one object with another, but this is a typical puzzle in these types of games and in most cases is pretty straight forward.

The game comes with a manual, which is almost as funny as the game. This manual is used for the normal anti-piracy protection, which requires you to identify objects on certain pages. The manual's text takes the mickey out of everything, so it will provide you with a couple of extra smiles while you struggle with the game.

The game's puzzles take the usual form of 'find object', 'pick up object', 'use object1 with object2'. To do this kind of thing you have to spend time searching into the nooks and crannies of the screen with the mouse pointer to find those objects that may be lurking. There are also lots of humans, monsters and other weird races that you will encounter, and then you can have conversations with them. You manage these conversations reading what the other person is saying, then selecting your reply from a list of possible options. This chat normally degenerates into a slanging match as Simon can't seem to resist insulting everyone, and you won't be able to resist the temptation to get into trouble aswell. For me these conversations are the high spots of the game, and Simon's rye comments are genuinely funny. For example, there is a point when Simon is talking to some gents in a pub, and he refers to them as wizards. One gent asks Simon why he thinks that they are wizards. To this Simon swiftly replies, 'Well when I move the mouse-pointer over you, the computer says "Wizards".

What helps make this joke funny is the fact the game designer has being doing his darndest up to that point to make you forget that you are playing a computer game.

The fact that the designer has done such a good job of hiding the machinery behind the gameplay is worthy a note. One of the aims of a good game is to create the illusion that you are involved in a real situation and if the computer gets in the way of the action the illusion is spoiled. Having to change a floppy disk, or wait for something to be loaded, is the kind of thing that constantly reminds you that the box of silicon beneath your fingers is controlling everything. Simon's floppies have been carefully put together to help alleviate this problem.

Duplicate copies of the same code have been put on each of the nine disks to save you have to swop Monkey Island is almost unplayable from floppy disk as it obviously never occurred to anyone that the game wouldn't be installed on hard disk.

One clever touch that this game has, which others would do well to copy, is the way it handles your interaction with other characters.

If you intrude into a scene where two people having a conversation, and you interrupt them by asking a question, the characters treat you in the same way as real-life characters would. Instead of the computer obviously stopping their conversation dead and switching into reply mode, they attempt to answer you, then pick up where they left off instead of simply standing motionless waiting for your next input. The computer characters will also amend their subsequent dialogue if your comment influenced anything. In fact, the script has been specially constructed with loads of these 'jump-points' in it to ensure that it can deal with most situations.

This is not something that you see too often in other games and it really gives a different feel to a scene. This is a game where the computer has been hidden as much as possible.

Nothing is perfect, so where is the downside you may ask? If pressed (and I don't really want to say anything which detracts from this super game) my only criticism of the game would be that the gameplay tails off a little towards the end. During the initial stages there are a million things to do and see and there are many parallel paths for you to wander. Towards the latter stages things get restricted, the path get straight and narrow, the puzzles become simpler, and more and more you become a spectator to animated sequences. I began to feel that the game designer had just received the delivery deadline from the publishers, so everything was being wound up swifty to meet a deadline. The first quarter of the game could take a fortnight to figure out - the last quarter could take an evening. I am willing to be taken to task for that comment, perhaps you won't agree with it, but it's only a small gripe after all. To get full enjoyment out of this adventure you should forget about trying to solve the puzzles and getting through to the end, for the real fun comes from deliberately doing things that you suspect won't solve the problem. In this way you will discover what fun the game designer put in to teach you a lesson for being rude or silly.
There are no illogical puzzles in the game, and simple persistence will see you through to the end.

Hardened adventurers will solve most of the game without too much difficulty, so if would like a fun adventure, but have never been successful with them in in the past, this is the one for you.

CU Amiga, February 1994, p.p.68-70

The stunning graphics which Simon contains won much acclaim when the PC version was released. To bring this standard to the Amiga caused them many headaches, but they persevered and appear to have repeated their success.
The specially enhanced A1200 version has all of the 256 colours which the PC has, and it has a cinemascope look to it, owing to the wider and narrower style of the Amiga screen.
Unlike Monkey Island II whose backgrounds were first drawn and then scanned, Simon is created using a series of sixteen colour overlays. This method not only gives a crisper, and clearer picture, but it also means that the code can be more easily compressed to fit onto fewer disks. If the same technique as Monkey Island had been used, this game would come on fifteen disks!

Adventure Soft has a dark side to its personality which lurks in the shadows - Horrorsoft! Personal Nightmare, Elvira, Elvira II and Waxworks are four games which bear the Horrorsoft label. These are the type of games that attracts smaller audiences and have sometimes drawn the attention of moral crusaders to them. Which means everyone is a little embarrassed to admit they have anything to do with them in these politically correct days. However, love' em or hate 'em, it's unlikely that there will be any more additions to the range. Such has been the popularity of the new Adventure Soft games, and because the team have enjoyed writing the comedy adventures so much, they have decided to drop the old gore games and stick with the fun in future. Australian fans will, however, be sad to see them go, for I do recall that the Horrorsoft games went down a bomb down-under.

Adventure Soft is a family firm. Mike the father designs and codes the games. His wife manages and deals with the administration. Simon, the eldest son, writes the storyline and text conversations.
Finally, there is the youngest son Jonathan who is used as a playtester. To this core, five top graphic artists have been added to complete a team that is currently kicking all sorts of hell out of the best that the biggest software companies in the world can muster. With two more artist being trained up to join the existing team, Adventure Soft is a company who has proved they can trade blows with the best and win. Mike gets very upset when reviewers say Adventure Soft games are as good as Lucasfilms. What he wants to hear someone say is, 'Lucasfilms games are just as good as Adventure Soft!'

(A1200 - £39.99)

Great fun, plus stunning graphics.

Simon the Sorcerer CD32 logo CD32 CU Amiga Screen Star

With talking goats and woodworm and tv star Chris Barrie playing the lead, Simon the Sorcerer breaks new ground on CD32. Dean Evans listens in.

If you haven't come across Adventuresoft's Simon the Sorcerer before, you've been missing out in a big, possibly huge way. Not since Monkey Island has there been such a genuinely funny, chuckle-inducing graphic adventure on the Amiga, and Simon the Sorcerer isn't just another point-and-click, 'ooh nice graphics' sort of adventure either but a slick, humourous and superbly drawn fantasy. And if it was good on the Amiga, it's downright fantastic on the CD32.

Simon the Sorcerer If you haven't come across the game before, the plot goes something like this. After an inter-dimensional gateway opens up in his bedroom, Simon, the game's 14 year-old hero, stumbles bravely into it (after his dog) and ends up in a bizarre, Tolkien-esque fantasy world. He has absolutely no idea where anybody or anything is and worst of all, he has nothing to help him except a fridge magnet and a pair of hairdressing scissors.

But this is just the beginning of his troubles. Like many an adventure game before it, Simon the Sorceror's plot unashamedly revolves around that reliable old plot device, the quest. Not only must he rescue the good wizard Calypso from the evil clutches of Sordid the Sorceror, but along the way Simon must complete a number of mini-quests: finding the staff of Nafflin the Necromancer for example and making a magical axehead for a melancholy woodcutter so he can chop down rubber trees.

Adventuresoft have created a weird and wonderful land, where fairy tale, classic fantasy and comedy mix together in twisted but totally recognisable forms. In fact, it's a bit like the scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? where Bob Hoskins walks through the studio backlot surrounded by a whole host of cartoon characters like Dumbo and the dancing Hippos from Fantasia. In Simon you've got Rapuzel, the Three Billy Goats Gruff (complete with troll), a chest with teeth (vaguely reminiscent of Terry Pratchett's Luggage) and even Gollum and his 'precious' magic ring.

Simon the Sorcerer If there's one thing that really stands out in this game it's the fact that all the backgrounds have been carefully hand drawn, first onto paper by the artists then scanned into the computer using an ordinary hand scanner. The black and white drawings have then been retouched and coloured in Autodesk Animator Pro to produce the stunning background images you see here.
Of course, sumptuous backgrounds alone don't make a good game (though they help enormously), and these images are complimented by some superb and detailed character animation.

Shunning the current trend for using digitised graphics, Adventure Soft have concentrated on developing a a quirky, cartoon style. Simon himself, struts purposely around, confidently leaping across icy ledges and scaling tower walls. There's over 1,000 frames of animation in the Swampling scene alone and there's also a sneezing dragon, a walking chest and my personal favourite: a brilliantly-animated goblin guard who industriously picks his nose, then secretly eats the contents.

Okay, so it has great graphics and first-rate animation but what does the CD32 version have that the Amiga one doesn't? Well, as the game is on a shiny CD it now features a CD quality soundtrack and lots of comical boings, crashes and bangs that were sadly missing from the Amiga disk version.

But the main reason for Simon CD is the fact that it's got digitised speech throughout. With Chris Barrie (he of Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire fame) taking the lead role and assorted actors, friends and passers-by helping out, the game has been transformed. It's so much better. Chris Barrie is suitably nerdish as Simon while the Swampling and the Wood Worm just have to be heard to be believed.

While PC owners have had CD adventures and digitised speech coming out of their ears, it's finally nice to see the CD32 catching up. Okay, I admit some of the voices are a bit dodgy but on the whole Adventuresoft have done a damned good job. Not only is Simon the Sorcerer a difficult and challenging adventure but this new CD version is an aural treat.

CU Amiga, July 1994, p.46

Without doubt the best Adventure on the CD32.