Simon the Sorcerer 2 is a worthwhile adventure game sequel

Posted: September 27, 2009 in Adventure

Regardless of what the topic is, sequels are typically not portrayed very favorably. From movies and music to books and video games, follow-up installments tend to get panned. So it’s always noteworthy when a sequel does turn out to good or even better than the original. That’s what you have with Simon the Sorcerer 2: The Lion, The Wizard and The Wardrobe (think C.S. Lewis’ classic), a point-and-click adventure game just as funny as the original except with significant improvements that make it a worthy addition to a timeless classic series.

Simon the Sorcerer 2 is a continuation of the original with Simon back in his on time. Loosely incorporating elements from C.S. Lewis’ classic, the game incorporates a fun storyline that combines humor with a little too much rudeness for its own good. The evil sorcerer Sordid was apparently killed at the end of the original or so we thought. In the new world, a boy aptly named Runt has come into possession of the Sordid’s magic book. Runt’s father looks down on Runt and chastises him before burning the book. In his despair, he makes a wish that brings forth Sordid’s spirit from the ashes of the burned magic book. Runt, who suffers from low self-esteem and I’m assuming poor physical hygiene, is taken on as an apprentice to Sordid. From here, Sordid embarks on his plan to once again rule the world, which begins with the capture of Simon. He does this by sending a magic wardrobe which serves as a transportation device to bring Simon back to him. Of course, there’s a foul up, and Sordid being the powerful yet bumbling magician that he is, accidentally sends Simon to Calypso’s Magike Emporium instead of Sordid’s Fortress of Doom. There, Simon learns from Calypso the wise wizard and shop owner that mucusade is the only fuel powerful enough to transport him back to his world. Thus, begins Simon’s new adventure.

The adventure game itself improves on the original with a revamped control scheme and well thought out puzzles. Visually, the game has more extensive animations which are different from the smaller scenes of the original. One noticeable change is Simon now has a pony tail, which doesn’t bode for his personality as I soon found out. For a decade + game, Simon the Sorcerer 2 could probably stand up against many of today’s games in terms of design and layout. The animation and the storyline which is more than coherent should appeal to a new generation of gamers.

The control scheme is improved upon and does away with the verb system common with many of the previous point-and-click adventure games. The verb system used action words to direct Simon in his movements. The control system in Simon the Sorcerer 2 is more visual and intuitive using pictures in the place of written words. The interface is presented at the bottom of the screen as a set of buttons for picking, opening, moving and fixing items in addition to speaking with or giving items. The inventory system is located in the middle and shows collected items. One of those items is a postcard which when selected takes you back to the menu or saves the game. You can also shake the device to bring up game instructions.

The point-and-click system is typical of adventure games from this time period and you have two options: a magnifier that you drag using your finger over items or spots, and a pointer that you can move to a desired spot. You can toggle between the two options during the game.

Part of the frustration with point-and-click games is the uncertainty of what you can interact with on the screen. The game has an invaluable function in the Help tool located in the upper right corner. This highlights all the hotspots on the screen from items that can be picked up to people available for interaction. However, this doesn’t make the game any easier in terms of solving puzzles. In fact, it may even muddle up things for some. Again, combined with the improved control scheme, this makes the game more accessible and less tedious.

When interacting with others, dialogue options are presented at the bottom of the screen from which you can select a response. These responses tend to be a mix of humor and rudeness which can be a bit off putting. It’s fair to say that Simon’s whimsical immaturity in the original has given way to an all too familiar adolescent jackass in the sequel. Yes, you can quote me on that one. While initially funny, Simon’s sexist and downright offensive responses can be annoying after a while. This is the one part of the game that I didn’t like much since it felt forced and contrived. Let’s just say that kids shouldn’t look to Simon as a role model. Fortunately, you can turn off the voices and/or subtitles under Settings.

Simon the Sorcerer 2 also incorporates a map with locations are presented as hotspots. For me, this approach is significantly easier than the seemingly random scenes that would appear in the original. This also makes it less difficult to travel from place to place. The devs did a terrific job of incorporating different yet relevant music tracks for each location which sets just the right tone.

The puzzles themselves are challenging and pretty enjoyable with most requiring back and forth travel to previously visited locations to collect items. In order to secure the mucusade, you must first bribe your way past guards. That’s not easy since you don’t any money, so your overall task is to collect money which takes on different adventures. The puzzles, some of which on the surface, make very little sense consist of locating items and then figuring where you can use them.

Simon the Sorcerer 2 is a fun and entertaining sequel that plays well on the platform. Utilizing a better control scheme with the touch functions of the device, the game offers a stronger, more coherent storyline with even more challenging puzzles than the original. Graphics and smooth animation with a more intuitive feel round out a generally positive package that fans and non-fans of point-and-click adventures should equally enjoy.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (revamped intuitive point-and-click set up should appeal and make it more accessible to a bigger audience than the original; smooth graphics and challenging puzzles offsets Simon’s impolite behavior)

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