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Simon the Sorcerer 2 - The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe
Sordid's fortressIt's the year of Our Lord 1995 A.D. The entire adventure genre is dominated by LucasArts. The entire genre? No, a small, British software company called Adventure Soft defies the genre king. However, this is not about some famous French comic figure but about Simon, the slightly befuddled would-be sorcerer who, for some reason, bears a striking resemblance with Guybrush Threepwood. But Simon's similarities end at his now grown pony tail and his still existing foolishness. After all, he isn't a famous sorcerer in a parallel universe for nothing...
Simon, Sordid and a wardrobe:
In Calypso's storeSimon had to experience himself, however, that being famous did have its drawbacks. Having sent the nasty sorcerer Sordid into the afterlife in the course of the first installment, Sordid found a way back into "real" life, and his first intent in the second installment was revenge. Thus, Simon was more than surprised to find a wardrobe standing in the middle of his room one day. Unaware of the impending trip back into the fantasy realm, he stepped into it out of sheer curiosity. But luck was with him: due to a malfunction of the teleporter-turned wardrobe, Simon didn't end up in Sordid's clutches but in front of the store run by his old friend Calypso. Despite the merry reunion, Simon was eager to return home. But even Calypso couldn't help him turn the wardrobe back into a teleporter without the magical stuff "mucusade", unfortunately stored out of everyone's reach in the Royal Castle. Everyone's reach but the player's, and from that point on Simon's fate rested in his hands...
Adventure goes comedy:
The washing housewivesBut the hilarious story was only the beginning of an ingenious game that ventured beyond well-trodden adventure paths. While the game's handling based on cryptic icons (occupying one third of the screen) was akin to that of its competitors, everything else had written "made by the Woodroffe brothers" all over it. That became immediately evident when taking a look at their typical graphical style, which was still based on 256 color VGA graphics but sported considerably more and colorful locations. More novelties came in form of horizontally scrolling screens as well as a large map that facilitated travelling between several locations. But what turned this game into an all-time classic were its highly amusing dialogues (with perfect voice-overs), the challenging but logical puzzles and, naturally, protagonist Simon himself. His gift to comment every situation with a fitting sarcastic remark made him a likeable character. But also the background activities were entertaining enough: e.g. the talkative housewives washing their husband's underwear in green water; or (my personal favourite) the role-playing group preferring binary codes as a means of conversation. Simon also met some old friends like the swampling, who in the meantime had turned quite a profit with his fast food chain "MucSwampy's".
Adventure Soft

In 1995

very high


more or less

Low budget

Simon 3D
And what's up next?
Approaching his aimNot only Simon 1 but also the second installment became commercial successes. What's more, by selling more than 600,000 units worldwide the term "Simonology" was created that clearly emphasized the games' popularity. The guys behind these humorous adventures were the brothers Mike and Simon Woodroffe, who had earned their first laurels in an altogether different genre. The horror trilogy Elvira - Mistress of the Dark, Elvira 2 - The Jaws of Cerberus as well as Elvira 3 - Waxworks (all in the early 1990s) wasn't without flaw, they did find their share of fans.
In 1993, the Woodroffes managed their breakthrough with Simon the Sorcerer, followed by its sequel two years later. But also the completely rendered graphics adventure The Feeble Files (1996) proved once more the quality of Adventure Soft games, even though it was a wee little bit more difficult than Simon. Question is, however, what destiny holds in store for Simon. Simon 3D has already been finished and should have been released by now, but with no publisher forthcoming the game faces an uncertain future. Let's hope nevertheless that Simon gets the chance to unleash his furious humour in many an adventure game to come.
© 11-30-2001 by CE