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

posted by Darth Marsden on - last edited - Viewed by 10.2K 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.

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  • We'll even bring you hookers for conjugal visits. Just pull through and finish this let's play.

  • Dawww. I love you too, guys.

    OK, so a quick reminder of what we were doing:


    Yeah, that's what SHE said.


    We'll get the two we've been before out of the way first.


    Vinegar's at MucSwampys. It's the sachets on the counter that we couldn't pick up.


    Baking's back in the Beer Garden at the inn. It's the BBQ where we picked up the tongs (which we haven't actually used yet!).

    Now for the varnishing. This requires us to go to another new location in town.

    The reason I haven't shown it before is twofold.

    1) It's not been needed before.

    2) It's kind of out of the way.

    It's basically to the right of the Sheriff's Office, and the path's really quite small.


    Yeah, it's to the right of the houses with the graphical glitches. If we go down there, we find...


    ...a door that doesn't lead anywhere (YET), a shed of some sort we can't interact with, and a small can next to the shed. The can's full of...


    And with that, we've made our conker as strong as it can be. We just tie it up with the shoelace and we're good to go.

    So we head back down the sewer (the game thankfully doesn't make us do the secret password thing again, thanks Christ) and challenge the odd-looking kid to a game of conkers for the quill.


    Here we go. Pointless minigame time!


    And here it is.

    The premise behind conkers, if you don't know it, is fairly simple. You just take it in turns whacking each others conkers until one of them breaks. That'd be the loser.

    If you'd imagine that makes it rather random, then...

    ...well, yeah, it is.

    There's things you can do to strengthen your conker - the three which we've already done are the traditional methods of making your conker stronger - but beyond that, there's not much skill involved.

    And, naturally, that's nicely reflected in this minigame.


    Here's what happens when you lose. The first time I played, he did this to me on his third hit, which was bullshit.

    I tried this game about four times before I finally won, and I still think it was blind luck that was responsible.

    It's a little hard to see in that picture, but if you look at HIS conker, you can see a large chunk missing. In my winning game, I just kept hitting that spot until his conker blew up like mine has. It took six smacks, so quite how mine survived longer than his is anyone's guess.


    For the record, if you lose, then naturally you lose your conker and have to make another. YOu don't have to go traipsing all over with another horse chestnut, thankfully - you have more in your inventory, and the hardening effects applies to all of them - but you do need to re-string the shoelace through them to get another one ready.

    But who cares about that - we won! So now we've got the quill. Let's go give it to the other wizard.


    Once we've caught up to him again, of course. Thankfully this time I'm smart enough to ensure we find him in the white room so we can actually see what's going on.


    And in return for the quill, we now have our 'official' papers. Lovely.

    Let's give 'em to the goblins, shall we?


    One other distracting thing (other than recognising one of the voice actors again, since she voices one of the football kids as well) is the fact that there's no mouth animation on the goblins when I first talk to them here. It returns after I show them the papers, but before that their heads just sort of moved around a bit. Very poor show indeed.

    ANYWAY. We ask them to open the gates for us.


    Oh, what fresh level of hell are you going to send me through to appease you now?


    ...say what?


    ...what the hell is a Rainbird?


    Oh. Well, that could be useful.

    ...what do they want for it?


    I'm probably going to regret this, aren't I.

    (Also, I just love that facial expression the goblin on the left's got. It's like pausing a movie the exact second the main actor blinks)


    They take a few items, though the game doesn't tell us exactly what.

    All they say is:


    Actually, that's extremely handy, since this is the sort of adventure game where you don't automatically lose items once they've outlived their usefulness - they just clog up your inventory.


    As you probably guessed from that, this has happened before. Twice in the second game, IIRC.


    This is the Rainbird Horn. We use it, much like the Pizzarina, to call the bird for a lift.

    The rules for using it are fairly simple - only use it outdoors, don't try to go anywhere dangerous, and you can only land on special squares that look like larger versions of the life pads from earlier.

    (Rather amusingly, the fairy godmother appears to tell you all this RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE GOBLINS. And, typically, they don't even react to it)


    I wasn't going to feature the fairy godmother any more (since I do her job far better than she does), but there's something she says here that bears closer analysis.

    When she refers to the controls for the Rainbird, you may have noticed that she doesn't refer to the ACTION key - she instead says the actual button on the keyboard, the CTRL key.

    This is the first and only time she does this.


    I'll admit, it's useful to have her actually say the keyboard commands, but it's out of character and contrary to what she's said before and will indeed say in future.

    And yes, I know this isn't the biggest issue in the world, but it's a fuck up and goddamnit, if I'm going to point out one typo then you can be damn well sure I want THIS recognised!

    ...right. Let's use this Rainbird then.




    Oh, it's the Rainbird. Right.

    Well, welcome to the world map. Guess what? IT SUCKS.

    The Rainbird is actually rather fiddly to control. It uses the standard movement controls, but as you can see, when you turn the damn thing banks into the turn, so it's easy for your spatial awareness to get completely screwed up, especially if you have to do a 180.

    It also doesn't help that the layout of the world doesn't quite match the way we've been running through it on foot. The gnome flinging contest is shown on this map, for instance, when it actually mysteriously vanished after we won it. Something else also shows up on this map that hasn't actually appeared there yet (at least I don't THINK it does), so that's confusing as well.

    Finally, it doesn't help matters at all that the Rainbird will get stuck on things from the map that are too tall, meaning you have to do an (already established as confusing) 180 to break free.

    It's shocking how badly designed this is when the basic 2D maps we used in each individual area were so much easier to use. It's another example of "we've got a 3D engine so make EVERYTHING in it!", and wjile it's not the biggest problem I have with the game, it's still frustrating.

    Eventually I manage to overcome all the terrible design decisions and figure out where the swamp is.


    Oh, I do hope I don't have to do anything horrible to anyone here.

    (We're SO going to.)

  • ...and we're back.

    Right. Where were we?


    Oh yes, the swamp. (Notice how, despite me changing the colour of Simon's robe, the rim of his hat is currently yellow. It does this occasionally in cutscenes - lazy programming, methinks.)

    Unfortunately the swamp doesn't have a map, so I can't show you an overview of everything that we'll be visiting right now. It's not a huge map though (for once), so it shouldn't be that major an issue.

    To start with, there's not a particularly large area we can explore.


    That's why.

    No, not the alligator - the WATER. Simon won't go in it, and to be perfectly honest I don't blame him.

    In the area that we CAN explore, we have this:


    Since it may not be entirely clear, let me tell you what's in the shot.

    Just to the left of Simon's head are some vines attached to a wall. We can climb up those.

    Just to the right of Simon's head is an axeman cutting down a tree. The bright thing on said tree is a beehive.

    Can you guess what we're going to have to do?


    If you guessed we'd climb the vines, then duh. No shit, Sherlock.

    What I mean is: what ELSE do is the game going to make us do? Remember, the game's made us do some pretty terrible things so far.


    If you guessed that we'd have to knock the beehive onto the axeman, then...


    ...well, that about says it all really, doesn't it.

    He throws the beehive on the ground next to his axe and runs off screaming.

    Aren't we proud of ourselves?


    Oh, that's BULLSHIT and you KNOW it, Simon.

    Right. So we pick up the axe. We can then use it to cut the vines. We can only do this from the top of them, so we have to climb back up and do it.


    Oh, brilliant. We've only gone and broken the bloody thing. Well done.

    Now that we've cut down the vines, we can't actually climb back down, despite the ledge we're on now only being about as high as Simon himself and therefore quite easy to just jump down from. Sigh.

    The ledge does lead to another path though. One with a warning sign.


    Does this mean Simon might die horribly? Let's hope so!

    So we head on towards the quicksand when this little guy appears.


    We can't quite understand him, but apparently he wants Simon to follow him across the quicksand.


    So we do, the camera rather awkwardly changing to this overhead view as we do.

    The problem with the camera being HERE is that it has to move as we head further across the quicksand. It's rather awkward.

    Anyway. The little creature makes a series of jumps to points ahead of us, and we have to walk from each of these points to the next in a straight line. If we do so, we'll get across safely.

    Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you view what's about to happen) the game's quite strict about what constitutes a straight line, and if you get it wrong...


    It's quicksand, Simon. You know that - you read a bloody great sign on your way to it.


    Are you now? Well, good. Can't say you don't deserve it.


    And with that, Simon dies. Slowly, painfully and horrifically.



    (visual pun FTW!)


    Oh, right. There was a life pad. Bah!

    This really did take me quite a few goes to finish (though the sight of Simon dying horribly did make it somewhat bearable), though I did eventually get across.

    When we do, we end up back near the crocodile.

    And so, since we now have the stick from the axe (as well as the axe head, I suppose), we do the most natural thing that comes to mind.


    Now, if we combine the croc with the vines we cut down earlier, we get...


    Yup, a way across the swamp.

    I'd be annoyed at how Simon did this without any prompting or hints to suggest that this is what he should do, but eh, I'm kinda numb to the madness by this point.

    Anyway. We can now ride over to a couple of further areas. We'll go with this one first:


    As always, long story short. That's a princess, and her hamster Sir Squeaksalot is stuck up a tree.

    Well, we just knocked ONE thing out of a tree - let's make it two for two.


    Piece of piss. Now let's go get the git...


    Oh. Oh bugger. We'd... we'd better get after him then.


    Oh, there he is. Blimey, he went pretty far. Well, let's get him home then.


    Don't say that.

    Don't EVER say that.


    Oh, Simon. Will you EVER stop killing innocent creatures?


    Yeah, because THAT'S the most important thing here, isn't it.

    Would appreciate a few responses guys, got a LOT of images on this page.

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    I think we should get a kill count going for Simon. It looks like he's already shaping up to be quite the mass murderer.

  • Did it give any hints on why we should be helping this princess who hangs out in swamps in the first place?

  • @Syd said: I think we should get a kill count going for Simon. It looks like he's already shaping up to be quite the mass murderer.

    Check my sig. We're up to 4 now.
    @Syd said: Did it give any hints on why we should be helping this princess who hangs out in swamps in the first place?Only that she'd have my head cut off if I didn't help her.

  • @Darth Marsden said: Only that she'd have my head cut off if I didn't help her.

    Don't help her then. End this nightmare now. Do it for all of us. He'll kill us. He'll kill us all!

  • Oh I would, but every time Simon dies, he always respawns at one of those life pads. Bah!

    (Fun fact: one of the later puzzles actually forces you to get Simon killed. It's glorious.)

  • Well I can't wait!
    Also: Next post will be on a new page.

  • @der_ketzer said: Well I can't wait!

    Sadly, that doesn't happen for AGES. But it does happen eventually!

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