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Let's Play... Simon the Sorcerer 3D

posted by Darth Marsden on - last edited - Viewed by 8K users

So I'm doing a run through that most infamous of bad adventure games, Simon the Sorcerer 3D. This is so I can do a Madisun's Arc review of it, and like all my video game reviews I'm playing through the whole thing and recording it so that I essentially have a complete video run of the game.

The thing is, doing this is long. And boring. And requires me to convert a LOT of videos from massive avi files (3.95GBs each) into smaller wmv ones that don't take up every bit of free space on my hard drive. And while the videos are converting, I can't actually play the game. Well, maybe I could, I dunno, but I don't really want to be converting video files AND recording footage from a game at the same time. I think my motherboard might melt.

So, during this down time, I figured I'd do something. Going back to the videos I've already converted to wmv files, I'm grabbing screenshots from them and I'm going to do a picture based storytelling exercise... thing.

So here we go!

Let's Play... Simon the Sorcerer 3D

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The game opens up with a blatant rip-off from Star Wars. Because that was topical. (Actually, it was - the game came out around the same time The Phantom Menace was released on DVD. So this comment is probably a bit redundant and I should therefore probably stop talking.)

This text basically sums up the events of the first two games. I'll explain most of it as we go along, so I won't bother telling you exactly what it says here.

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This is Runt. No, seriously. That's his name.

RUNT.

He's the 'apprentice' for the main villain of the series...

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AHH! MY PARENTS LIED! THERE ARE MONSTERS IN MY CLOSET!!

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Oh no, it's just the titular SIMON THE SORCERER.

Oddly enough, you actually play as the bad guy in this series. It's a refreshing change from the norm, and makes the franchise a lot more interesting as a resul-

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Oh, right. This isn't actually Simon. It's the warlock Sordid, who's spirit possessed Simon's body at the end of the previous game. Sorry. As you'll see later on, Simon's so vicious to people it's hard to tell the difference between him and the villain sometimes!

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Sordid's been taking Simon's body on a funky little joy-ride, and while he's been away, Runt (god I feel so stupid every time I say that) has built him a nice new body to inhabit.

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Which he promptly does.

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Because let's be honest, if you had the chance to take on the form of a giant ED-209-like monster machine, you would to.

(How he'll ever get laid again is a question for the ages, but I guess we're not supposed to think about that.)

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Runt (ugh) tells Sordid (actually, that sounds dirty as well. I think I'll need a shower after I'm done with this) about his plan for finding 'The Ancient One'.

He'll have to be more specific than that though, since there's around a thousand 'Ancient Ones', most of which aren't going to be particularly inclined to help a pair of Sordid Runts.

I mean, do they mean the guy who taught Doctor Strange?

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The guy from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

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This... THING from Star Wars?

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Be a little more specific people, that's all I'm asking!

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Then they both have a good laugh over a dirty joke. I think. I kinda zoned out there trying to decide which Ancient One they were talking about.

Uh, where were we?

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Oh. Right. We're... somewhere else now. In the rain, apparently.
(You can't tell because it's just pictures, but there's no sound effects whatsoever here. It's really very weird seeing the rain but not actually hearing it. Odd disconnect.)

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And we get a glorious ass shot (or at least it would be a glorious ass shot if the graphics weren't so awful) of some chick who must be absolutely freezing as she carries Simon's body to the top of a... wait.

HOW DID SHE GET SIMON'S BODY OUT OF SORDID'S LAIR?

No, seriously - How. Did. She. Do. That? You can't just brush something like that under the rug, game! It's a pretty big thing to skip over! Explain, dammit! EXPLAIN!

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...sorry.

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So the chick just leaves Simon's body at the top of the stairs as she does a dramatic pose in front of three old guys, which diminishes the effect somewhat, but I guess she takes what she can get.

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Fortunately the old guys can make Simon's body float over to them, which just begs the question of why the hell they didn't do that in the first place instead of making Lara McNotCroft drag him all the way to the top of the pyramid.

Jerks.

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And so they lower Simon's body into the pit of sharp pointy things coated with horribly nasty poison, and he was never heard from again.

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Everyone toasts to a job well done and the game is over.

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...I wish.

252 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I got that shirt and the 7 asses one. I'm dang ass sexy.

  • ...and we're back. Sadly.

    Right, where were we?

    LP-C1-024_zpsf84fc2f1.png
    Oh, right. We were gonna go through that door. OK, let's head through it then.

    LP-C1-025_zpsffe453b8.png
    Ooo, what wonders could await us beyond this gate? It could be treasure, or women, or treasure, or-

    LP-C1-026_zpseda85908.png
    ...oh. Well that's kinda lame.

    Might as well head to the back first. Maybe there's women here?

    LP-C1-027_zps08368c9d.png
    ...oh, it's a dead end. That's... that's nice.

    Note that plate on the floor. No idea why I'm telling you to do this. Just feel like it. Hint hint.

    LP-C1-028_zpsbb11cbf1.png
    Alright, we'll go the other way. Towards the camera. Because THAT isn't awkward at all.

    LP-C1-029_zps40909607.png
    Now THIS is awkward. Jeez, what were the developers thinking? These camera angles are just awful. It makes controlling Simon a massive pain in the arse, especially with those Tank controls I mentioned earlier, because it means I keep running straight into things.

    LP-C1-030_zps6d866b92.png
    ...like so.

    LP-C1-031_zps27663527.png
    Anyway, once I make my way around that I head down the hall and find...

    LP-C1-032_zps90e10d57.png
    ...a nice display thingamy.

    Now I want to look at it, so it's time for another game of...

    GUESS THE CONTROLS!

    Yes, it's time for round two of that most irritating of quizzes! And for 10 points, your next question:

    WHAT BUTTON DO YOU PRESS TO EXAMINE THINGS?

    LP-StopWatch_zps3687bdd2.jpg

    ...

    ...ready?

    ...

    ...padding so you don't accidentally see the answer while scrolling down...

    ...

    ...more padding...

    ...

    ...OK, here's the button you press to EXAMINE:

    LP-XKey_zps51750010.png

    ...

    Y'know, I can sort of see the logic there. X to eXamine things. But, and here's the big question, WHY THE FUCK DID THEY NOT JUST USE THE E KEY THEN? Gah!

    LP-C1-033_zpsb03027b4.png
    And all so Simon can point out that it's important for something. Well whoop-de-fucking-do, it's not like I can't tell that for myself. What is it? Are those jewels? Can I do anything with it? Does any of this sound at all important? These are the things you should be telling me Simon, not that the blatantly obviously important thing could well be a tiny bit important!

    We're barely 5 minutes into the actual game, folks. FIVE. MINUTES.

    *sigh*

    Alright, let's just try to use the thing then, see what that does. That's the Ctrl button, remember.

    LP-C1-034_zpse19125af.png
    Oh, Simon just takes the three jewels. So they were jewels then. Would have been nice to know that before you picked them up, but whatever.

    So Simon takes all three remaining jewels an-

    LP-C1-035_zps1aa30f41.png
    OH FUCK NO. I do NOT want to be dealing with this bitch right about now.

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    Yeah, no Shit, Sherlock.

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    Mine was better.

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    OH GOD NO NOT MORE EXPOSITION RUUUUUUUN!

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    Actually, you can skip this one if you want, and thank christ for that, because it takes AGES to go through.

    How do I know this?

    ...because I listened to it.

    And because I did that, I can tell you of a bizarre bug that happens here. On certain lines, like this one for example:

    LP-C1-040_zpsf8e9e013.png
    ...there's no audio. The game acts like there should be some, and the character moves her mouth as if she's saying something, but there's no actual audible voice. It's incredibly bizarre. What's more, it's oddly specific. There's about five or six lines from the Fairy Godmother in this chapter, and then it doesn't re-occur until Chapter Three. Very odd.

    Anyway. The blurb here explains the inventory system, which is accessed by pressing the SPACE BAR. That's not entirely unreasonable, so I'll let it slide. What I WON'T forgive is how you use an item. First you select it with the ACTION button (Ctrl or Enter, remember). It'll then be in the 'In Hand' position, shown by an image of the item appearing in the far-right box on the upper right of the screen. These boxes hide themselves away during cutscenes and dialogue (though there's so much bloody dialogue in this game that they're pretty much the same sodding thing), so I can't show you without referring to an earlier shot:

    LP-C1-028_zpsbb11cbf1.png
    ...like so. You then use it by pressing...

    ...oh sod it, I can't be bothered with doing the whole quiz thing again. It's Alt.

    Yes, Alt. That one key you never press because it usually brings up the 'File' menu of whatever program you're using. THAT Alt.

    LP-AltKey_zps70e16a89.png

    *sigh*

    Oh, and having Little Miss Exposition tell you all this without any visual aids to help show you what she's actually talking about and let you better understand what's going on is EXACTLY the sort of thing idiots who can't be bothered to do any decent programming would do, which explains why it's happening right now.

    This is just amateurish. One of the golden rules of cinema is 'Show, Don't Tell', and that's no less applicable to games. In fact, it's even MORE important, because you can do BETTER than just showing players stuff. You can guide them through it. Games are an interactive medium, after all, and the best way to get someone to understand how to do something is to actually have them do it while you're guiding them through the experience.

    But oh no, that's FAR too advanced for this game. No, Simon 3D just tells you stuff and leaves you to figure it out on your own. And then it tells you that you should probably read the manual if you're stuck.

    No. No I shouldn't. You should be doing a better job of showing me what the hell I'm supposed to be doing, you stupid, irritating, cock-sucking BITCH.

    ...

    Ahem.

    LP-C1-041_zpsaa396508.png

    ...a little boring?

    ...A LITTLE BORING?

    LP-C1-042_zps85b8ef62.png
    ...oh, thank you Simon. I guess you're not as bad as I thought you were.

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    Oh, shut up.

    She goes on to explain... well, not an awful lot, really. And then she leaves.

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    Oh now really, there's no need for that...

    Anyway. As we were.

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    Let's continue down the hallway and see where we end up.

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    Seriously?

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    Right, there we go. Now, let's see wher-

    LP-C1-048_zps58bffc67.png
    OH FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

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    Oh, you're just taking the piss with that one.

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    I swear, I'm not doing this on purpose. The controls really are this bad! Honest!

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    Right. That took some work. Let's see what's through here.

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    FUCK YOU, GAME.

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    Aha! Victory at last! Lo, I have triumphed over the terrible controls and horrendous camera angles! And there's a key. Lovely. I'll just walk up and grab that...

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    The flying moonshine is that? Is a giant robot falling from the ceiling?

    LP-C1-055_zpsbe34ef61.png
    Ah. That'd be a yes then.

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    Oh Simon, you loveable coward. Quick, grab it and shove it back on your head before the camera has a chance to cut back to you, because then the programmers don't have to make a separate model of you without the hat on!

    LP-C1-057_zps35d27f92.png
    ...phew. That was a close one. Who cares if it made the cutscene awkward to watch, we have lazy coders to deal with!

    OK, I think I've broken everyone's bandwidth enough for one day. We'll see how Simon deals with the giant robot who (spoiler) genuinely can't hurt you at all (no, seriously) in the next instalment.

    Actually, I'd encourage people to post in this thread, if only so we can break my posts over several pages. It'll help reduce the loading times for each page. They're only PNG files from my Photobucket account, but even so, I can't imagine loading over a hundred images on one forum page alone is a good thing.

  • I can't think of the last game I played that controlled like that.

  • It actually feels very similar to the early Tomb Raider games, if you can cast your mind that far back.

    Well, there's no jumping or shooting stuff (yet...), but you get the idea. It feels like an early 3D platformer. Which is odd, considering it's supposed to be an adventure game.

  • User Avatar Image
    Syd

    Tank-style controls are my worst enemy, and it's made even worse when the camera angle suddenly changes. As much as I love Grim Fandango, there's quite a few times that I ended up running straight into a wall because of the controls and camera, but at least Grim's controls were mostly sensible (and it has the excuse of that sort of control scheme being popular at the time). Simon 3D's controls look like a nightmare. What were they thinking?

    And of course, it goes without saying, but those are some horrible graphics. Considering the capabilities of computers at the time, there's just no excuse for the game to look that bad.

  • Oddly enough, I've never found that particular control scheme to be much of a problem, possibly because Escape from Monkey Island was the first game that I played that controlled from a third person perspective. Though that one used the arrow keys, which I now find really annoying since I'm so used to steering characters with my left hand.

  • And this is what you play instead of the actually good games you bought?

  • User Avatar Image
    Jennifer Moderator

    If only the fan project to adapt the game to use the graphics and interface of the first two Simon games didn't die out. I played the demo of that one, and it seemed quite fun (the areas you played above were part of it, and they were actually enjoyable). It's a shame even the demo doesn't seem to be available anymore.

  • Here's a video of said project. You're right - it looks way better.

    Well, except for the chamber. That... that doesn't look so great.

    Oh, and here's the Demo itself. Not sure what language it is.

    EDIT: I'll be trying to upload one part of this Let's Play per day. Currently working on today's part.

  • The demo is in German, of course.

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