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

posted by Darth Marsden on - last edited - Viewed by 10.1K 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

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.

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


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


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-

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!

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.

Which he promptly does.

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.)

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?


The guy from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?


This... THING from Star Wars?


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

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?

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.)

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.


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!



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.

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.


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.

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


...I wish.

252 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I think you're blaming the programmers a bit too much especially when they aren't really the ones who actually make the 3D models and stuff, they just implement it.

  • Darth Marsden just made me WTF big time with the polygon engine comparison.

  • That Call of Cthulhu screenshot is from the canceled sequel, but yeah....

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    I was never exactly a big fan of Escape from Monkey Island's art style, but it looks incredible compared to Simon 3D. I know that Escape has the advantage of detailed pre-rendered backgrounds, but ignoring the backgrounds and just comparing the character models, the difference is still astounding.

    Also, like those examples showed, the engine itself is not an excuse as it was capable of much more. The artists working on Simon 3D either had to have not known what they were doing (or at least were somehow totally unaware of the expected visual quality of PC games at the time), or they just didn't care.

  • ...and we're back.

    So we step through that gate and emerge...


    Hmm. Where... where do I go?

    Let's put ourselves into the minds of people new to this game (which I suspect most of you are). What do you do? You're supposed to get to Poliganis to meet up with Calypso, but how do you get there? Is that a phone box? What good is that? You don't want to phone anyone! Where IS everything?

    Maybe if you just start running around, you'll find something....


    ...did you watch the video? You should before continuing with this.



    Yeah. When I said this game is HUGE, that's what I meant. The world is absolutely massive, even having to be split into TWO SEPERATE MAPS, but there's only a few things scattered around it. There was absolutely NO NEED FOR THIS. I understand having a 3D world gives you the option of doing something like this, but for an adventure game this is possibly one of the worst things you can do!


    OK, obviously I've exaggerated this a little. I've deliberately chosen a path that doesn't have anything on it in order to really ram the point, and there's a few random events I've already triggered that would normally stop you, mostly in the second map. But even so, this is still an entirely possible thing to have happen.

    As is happens, those phone boxes:


    Yeah, those. They're actually warp booths (because THAT makes perfect sense), and if you enter one, you get this:


    Yep, it's a map. Exactly the sort of thing the previous games had, and WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SHOWN WHEN WE ENTERED THIS OVERWORLD.

    Excuse me while I go and have a mini freakout over this.


    ...ah, that's better.

    Oh, no, wait - I forgot to mention that there are some thing that AREN'T ON THE MAP.


    Yes, there are items that take place in between loactions that are on the map. Like this:


    And you NEED this. YOU NEED THAT SIGN.




    Oh, it's the woodworms from the first game. Whatever. I'll just take that sign and be on my way.

    Somehow, on my wanders, I discover this guy:


    His deal is that he wants some magic beans, just like that Jack and the Beanstalk thing, and in return he'll give you Daisy, the cow.

    Oh, and there's a bunch of incest jokes. They aren't funny. They're just uncomfortable.

    Up next:


    Oh hey, it's that guy we killed. If I were a more talented sprite artist, I'd make a gif of Simon dancing on his corpse, but since I suck at that sort of thing, we'll just move on.


    Ah, this is S.I.G.N. - Signal Integrated Golem Narrative. He's basically a talking sign that can direct you ANYWHERE. Not much else to say about him, except that he likes a drink (a quirk his maker installed in him), and when Simon won't give him one, he says this:


    I like him.



    This guy's a treasure hunter and he's somehow got himself stuck in a hole he dug. He offers to share whatever he digs up in future with you if you get him out.

    Naturally, you might think we have to help him out.


    No, we just steal the metal detector he's holding and leave him there.

    What makes this puzzle REALLY frustrating is the fact that not only do you need to use your kite to get the metal detector, but you have to be standing in exactly the right spot, so it's not likely to be something you'd guess at doing, and even if it was, you'd probably give up before you actually managed to do it.

    Man, FUCK 3D.


    The fairy godmother then pops up to give us a tutorial on how to use it. I'll skip that (thank god), though I will note that it happens RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE GUY YOU STOLE IT FROM. Just to up the asshole quota even more.

    Anyway. I use the metal detector, and shortly thereafter find treasure!


    So we need to use the sign from earlier to dig it up. I know, it doesn't make sense to me either. Sodding adventure game logic.



    ...apparently it's a load of dirty washers. Looks like dirt from where I'm standing sitting, but whatever, I'll go with it.

    I can combine these washers with the can of Cola I bought earlier to clean them. Actually, this does make a bit of sense, since if you drop a coin into a glass of coke it will clean it, but it's still a bit of a leap. Anyway. We now have a bunch of shiny washers. Oh joy.



    Ah, finally. The bridge to Poliganis.

    ...where's the bridge?

    Ugh. I should have guessed. OK, let's talk to the guy on the other side.


    OK. He's trying to get across so he can enter the Gnome Flinging Contest. One of his rivals cut the bridge down to stop him, apparently. He's willing to help us get across if Simon wins the contest and gives him the trophy.

    Of course. So winning this contest is the main goal of this chapter.

    ...and we'll continue on with it next time, because I've got a massive headache coming on and need a break from this insanity.

  • The title of that video made me want to replace the audio with an excerpt from this, but I couldn't find where to cut it.

    Good LP so far, though.

  • This thread is where computers go to die.

  • This thread is where my sanity goes to die.

    I've just finished another session with the game, and it pissed me off to no end. SO many sections where the 3D engine resulted in a frustrating experience. OH SO MANY. If I wasn't doing a full review of this I'd have rage-quit so many times...

    The sad thing is, at the rate this Let's Play is going, I won't get to talk about them for quite some time. :(

  • ...and we're back.

    Here's where I have to come clean and admit that I did the events in a different order to the way I'm showing them here. This is particularly obvious if you pay attention to how much money I have - it's in the first of the three boxes displayed in the upper right of the screenshots.

    The reason I'm doing this is fairly simple - by reorganising the events of the game, I can tell more of a cohesive story, as opposed to the jumbled mess that was my actual gaming experience.

    I appreciate that, narratively, I should have gone straight to the bridge (to establish we need the trophy from the gnome flinging contest), then the actual gnome flinging contest (to establish what we're going to do and what we need for it) and then all the various little bits that sprang forth from there. However, that would have required going to several locations (the contest specifically) multiple times, and it also wouldn't have reflected how spaced out everything is.

    While the order I'm presenting events isn't perfect, I feel it's a good middle ground between the order I actually did discover them while playing and an order that makes sense structurally.

    ...anywa, I've babbled on long enough. Let's get to the madness.

    OK. What's next?


    Ah, this guy. He's a butterfly collector, and asks us to go and do his job for him. He gives us a net and a specimin jar, and tells us he'll pay us groats - the currency used in this series - for every butterfly we collect.

    Yes, we're really going to go and waste time collecting butterflies. What can I say? We need the money.

    But before we go do that, we're gonna nick the book he's got in his back pocket.


    It turns out to be, of all things, a guide to butterflies.



    Actually, we need this to point out that the purple butterfly, the Purple Emperor, is worth 250 groats. If we catch this, we're pretty much set for the majority of the game, so it's worth doing.

    So let's go catch some butterflies.


    ...which is a pain in the ass, make no mistake. First of all, the game doesn't tell you where the butterflies appear. It's actually in the field NEXT to where the magic bean-wanting inbred yokel is. Good luck realizing that though, since you have to spend about 30 seconds in said field until the bloomin' butterflies even spawn.


    So you'll spend a lot of time waiting around. When the butterflies do finally bother to show up...


    ...they only spawn in one at a time. Which, incidentally, is the same amount you can carry.


    Catching them's a pain in the arse too. It's not so bad once you've figured out the trick - only swing when they're a little to the left of you - but until you've got the pattern down, you'll get rather frustrated.


    Aha! Caught one!


    It's worth pointing out that the Purple Emperor won't show up until you've given any random butterfly to the collector and he specifically asks you to find one for him. So yeah, fun times.


    You have to repeat this process of waiting for a butterfly to spawn, catching it and then releasing it if it's not purple about a dozen times. This took about 15 minutes in total until FINALLY:


    Huzzah. And here's where you needed the book, because otherwise the collecter tries to give you WAY less than the 250 by claiming it's a common type.


    Yeah, no.


    Not having that, bitch. You stole 15 minutes of my life. GIVE ME MY FUCKING 250.


    Yeah. That's what I'm talking 'bout. Ka-ching.

    (For the record, I then went on to grab a few more butterflies, just for the hell of it. It explains why my wallet - the number in the left-hand box in the upper right of the screen - will show over 300 groats)

    OK, what's next?


    Ah yes, the Gnome Flinging Contest.

    I talked with both of the other contestants before finding out what was going on, but I'm going to skip that because they contribute absolutely nothing except to show off how the developers went out of their way to make Simon seem like less of a unlikeable git by making everyone else even more unlikeable.

    It almost works. Until Simon says something, of course, and then the illusion is shattered. Oh well.

    Anyway. Here's how the contest works.


    Like the man says. You have to provide your own gnome though.


    So far, the highest scoring contestant (this dick) has gotten a 9, so to beat him, we'll need to hit a bullseye.


    Oh, and yes - that is a living creature we'll be firing at the board.


    So let's go and register!


    In order to sign up for the event, we need 50 groats, which is why I did the butterfly thing BEFORE coming here. Since we've got more than enough cash as a result of that, we can go right ahead and sign up.

    We already know the rules, so we'll skip the majority of the speech we get. Except for this little bit:


    Yes. A bowl. For the chilli.


    ...apparently gnome flingers get chilli. Well, why not.

    Simon eats the chilli, but spits out the kidney beans, claiming not to like them. They're not magic, sadly, but that doesn't mean we can't do anything with them, oh no.

    Before we go though, I just need to clarify. Are there any restrictions to what we can use to fire our gnomes, or can I use whatever?


    And if that seems like an oddly specific thing for him to say, then you're not alone.


    Yes, we will be firing a gnome at a target board using a dynamite powered telescope tube.

    ...this is why I fucking hate adventure games sometimes.

  • ...and we're back.

    Up next is...

    ...well, this might be a bit hard to explain using just screenshots, but I'll do my best.

    So, there's this rock, right?


    Yeah, this one. It's marked on the map as a Hint Rock, though there's no phone booth next to it and, all told, there's nothing you can do with it.



    Yeah, you can go around it.


    I'd like to point out that I didn't even know you could walk waist-deep in the water - given how bad the collision detection is in this game, I doubt any of YOU did either - so naturally, trying this didn't even occur to me.


    This isn't a short path, either. It's a solid minute of waking through waist-deep water, because you can't go any faster. It's tedious, frustrating and, of course, ESSENTIAL.


    EVENTUALLY the path comes to an end at a little area.


    Complete with phone box so we never need to do that again, thank Christ.

    Now, if we examine that pile of boulders, we can hear that there's an occasional 'thwack'. There's clearly someone behind there.


    There's a dwarf trapped behind the rocks, and he wants us to help him out. He's going to stick some dynamite in a hole for us to light.


    Like so.

    Unfortunately, when trying to solve this puzzle, the game crashed. I had just saved though (as I am wont to do every 5 minutes or so in adventure games) so I didn't lose too much progress, but I still felt it worthy of mention. I have to say, the game is nowhere near as unstable as I'd have thought it'd be. Still crashes every couple of hours, but I tend to use that as a sign that I should take a break and do something else for a bit. God bless you for doing your civic duty in getting kids to take breathers, AdventureSoft!



    Ooo, lens flare.

    Anyway. Utilizing adventure game logic, we use the lens that fell out of the telescope to light the dynamite, resulting in...



    Yeah, it's actually rather underwhelming, as I'm sure you guessed.

    Anyway, we've managed to free this guy:


    He's the king of the dwarves, and he's hungry, apparently. As thanks for helping him out, we can take some of his mining supplies - namely, the dynamite - and if we get him some fish, he'll give us HAMMOR, his mighty dwarven hammer.

    Hmm... HAMMOR, huh? Let's humour him. Let's go get him some fish.


    Well, there's some fish in this part of the map, but they're too fast to grab by hand. So.


    We climb up this convenient diving board thing (while noting the graphical glitch where the water meets the land)...


    ...light some dynamite (by combining it with the lens - thankfully the game doesn't show Simon doing this) and throwing it into the water.


    Unfortunately, the lit fuse is extinguished by the water. :(

    ...wait. What about the specimen jar?


    A-ha! Good thing we've already gotten the 50 groats needed to enter the gnome flinging contest, or we'd be stuffed.

    ...well, actually, you can use the metal detector to find a few groats here and there on the ground, but it's rather random where they are and they're always small amounts - a mere three each time, IIRC - so if you didn't catch enough butterflies, you're gonna be spending a lot of time running around looking for cash.

    So. Let's drop the now safely contained TNT into the water.


    The game then cuts to Simon, so we don't even get to see the explosion. Lazy motherfuckers.


    I so desperately want the A-Team to come crashing down from the sky in a tank to take this asshole out.

    Oh well, let's go pick up some barbecued fish.


    No shit, Sherlock.

    ...wait, did I say that already? Ah, whatever, back to the dwarf.


    And here's what we get in return. HAMMOR. Isn't it beautiful?, it doesn't have any mystical properties. It's just a hammer. But it's a really cool looking hammer!

    The dwarf then returns to the mines to help his people. They're fighting a dragon, apparently. Remember that, it'll come into play some 15 hours later.

    OK. What next?


    Right, we need a gnome. So let's go and get one fro-

    ...oo, was that candy?


    It IS candy!

    ...oh wait, it's those horrible ones from Licorice Allsorts. Bleh. Well, let's hope Simon likes them more than I do.


    He does! Huzzah. (sorry about the lens flare - not a lot I can do about that)

    This actually starts a little chase sequence where you have to collect the next set of sweets. It's started by walking over that first set of sweets, and then another appears. You have to pick it up before time runs out, and then another one appears, and so on.

    This wouldn't be too bad, but the sweets are actually rather widely spaced out, and there's one that appears almost directly behind you ON THE OTHER SIDE OF A HILL SO THAT YOU CAN'T SEE IT. Took me a few goes to find it.

    Eventually they lead you to that purple spot on the ground you may remember from that video I posted.


    ...yeah, this one. And once you get that last sweet...


    ...this appears.


    Yep, it's the Gingerbread House. Makes sense that sweets would lead here. It's just a shame they were so awkwardly placed - it seemed to be solely to make use of the 3D engine rather than because it was a good idea. Oh well.

    As you might expect, we can indeed go inside, and we'll do that next time. So... many... images...

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