Friday, 23 September 2022

Simon the Sorcerer – Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Written by Will Moczarski



Three hours. Three...hours. Yes, you got that right. Three hours of walking all over the game world, trying to find a new hotspot or anything that relates to any of the fetch quests I still had to solve. That was when I noticed that I had revisited most of the screens but not all of them. I never thought about going back to Rapunzel’s tower because that puzzle felt all but solved. But there it was, a massive hotspot called “floorboards” taking up about a fifth of the screen. When I examined it Simon told me they were “solid looking wooden floorboards”. The rest was kind of easy. I did the obvious by dropping the woodworm and they chewed their way through the floor, causing me to land one floor below, then leaving behind another hole in front of me. Luckily I was carrying a ladder and thus the hole was not an obstacle. I emerged in a cave-like room with a tomb propped up against the left wall. When I opened it Simon remarked that the tomb was full of bandages but then he came face to face with a mummy carrying some sort of wand. I had some fairly humourous dialogue options but all of them just came out as “Aaargh!” (you know, like that time Guybrush first met Elaine on Monkey Island).


The greed is the unravelling / it’s the unravelling.


Simon automatically left through the front door which was now open. Obviously I had to prepare for this encounter somehow? The second time I had a few seconds to interact with the mummy. I went through my inventory and thought the matches might be the solution. They weren’t. Simon remarked “if only I was a proper wizard” so maybe I wasn’t ready for this yet? But I was out of other things to try so I persisted. I remembered that Simon told me he’d save the roll of super strong mints for when he’d need some warming up so I tried that, too. It didn’t work. I took a walk (in the real world) and thought about it. Maybe fire was the wrong choice? It seemed so likely, though. On my next try I accidentally discovered a new hotspot at the mummy’s back when I wanted to use the hacksaw on it (yes, I was that desperate). It was labelled a “loose bandage” and we all know what happened next. Simon pulled on the string of bandage and the whole mummy unravelled and fell apart after inexplicably walking past him. I was able to pick up the staff it left behind. It was described as a “powerful looking wizard’s staff” so this was probably what would help me become a proper wizard. I decided it was time to return to the Drunken Druid. 

Not without a short detour, though. See, what’s funny about adventure games is that once you get unstuck you come up with all these new ideas, probably because you have tried out so many things in the meantime that some of them might just work somewhere else. I thought so regarding either the matches or the roll of mints and decided to pay another visit to that nasty snowman. Maybe the mummy wouldn’t mind the heat but he sure would, right?

Right. Using the matches or the mints on the snowman didn’t work but Simon agreed to consume one of the mints here, and on this screen only. His face turned red and he even spit some fire, causing the snowman to melt within seconds. Yay, another exit! I arrived just below the Tower of Doom but when I approached the building the bridge spontaneously tumbled into the lava and I was unable to proceed. 


Go ahead and JUMP! / Might as well JUMP! 


At least now I know where the Big Bad probably resides. Back at the Drunken Druid the wizards were sort of glad to see me but proceeded to tell me I needed to pay the subscription fee of 30 gold pieces to become a wizard. It seemed I needed money for almost everything now. Seeing as I was at the Drunken Druid’s anyway I tried to order a drink a few more times, tackling one of the last remaining puzzles possibly not involving money. There were only a few hotspots after all and I figured I’d need to interact with the beer keg while the barman was looking for my “Warlock Surprise” underneath the bar. I tried the few items I hadn’t found a use for on the keg not exactly knowing what I was aiming for. On the fourth try I used the wax and Simon blocked the nozzle with it. The barman then assumed that the keg was empty and took it outside. Success! I also got a free beer voucher to “take home to my dad”. 

Back inside the dwarf mine I now had something good to bribe the guard with. It worked and the guard asked me to take the keg downstairs. When I did two of the guards started a drinking contest right away. They were soon too drunk to tell their arses from their elbows, according to Simon. Another dwarf was lying on the floor sleeping. All of the hotspots seemed irrelevant so I went back up and was now able to enter the mine proper because the guard wouldn’t respond to the head dwarf’s calls anymore. I found some dwarves who were actually working and was able to pick up a hook down there. I also found a heavy gold encrusted door down there – my new source of income, maybe? – but was unable to open it. One of the dwarves told me that Hardfist Jawbreaker who was “probably drunk in the beer room” was in charge of minding the key to the treasury today. A-ha! But which one was he? The one lying on the floor maybe? I went through my inventory and tickling the dwarf with the feather seemed like a likely solution. Sure enough the dwarf turned on his side and left behind the key. After three hours of tears I appeared to be on a roll now! 

But was I? There was another dwarf inside the treasury and he kicked me out as soon as I entered. He gave me some dialogue options though. The first time I offered to relieve him but he wouldn’t fall for it. The next time he was more aggressive right away and I was unable to get back into the conversation. The third dialogue option worked, however, and Simon went on to make the guard an offer. I could then tell him I had something in my inventory that he wanted which was the only sensible option. On a hunch I handed him the beer voucher and he gave me a gem in return. This was a really weird puzzle and I feel like I just stumbled onto the solution by accident. When I restored back I found out that it was possible to make the dwarf an offer right away but all of the other options didn’t work at all. The second dialogue tree (with the dwarf being more aggressive) felt like it wouldn’t lead anywhere but the game helped me out when Simon automatically suggested he’d have something to offer the dwarf. In a way this is the same puzzle twice in a row: I bribed one guard with a beer keg and another one with a beer voucher and I even got both items from the Drunken Druid’s. It feels a bit cheap but I was glad to have something valuable for once. 

The gem looked like a lump of kryptonite to Simon and it took me a while to figure out what to do with it. I went to the shoppe but to no avail. Simon wouldn’t even hand the gem over. The same was true for the barman, the wizards and the valkyries. 


But square-cut or pear-shaped / these gems don’t lose their shape.


So I went to the “dodgy geezer”. At this point I was convinced that he probably wouldn’t have a significant role to play in the whole game but again I was mistaken. He offered me some gold pieces right away when I showed the gem to him. After some haggling we agreed on 20 gold pieces (which still seemed like a bad deal) and he disappeared into thin air after handing over the money. Well...let’s talk about character design here, shall we? The “dodgy geezer” is clearly an offensive stereotype with his “dodgy” marketplace antics and his fez and moustache. I know this sort of thing was way more common in the early 1990’s. However, I seem to remember that Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis had some characters meant to be from a comparable cultural background but that game didn’t outright dismiss them as “dodgy”. Now I will play through the talkie version of Simon for the last post about the game in order to compare the two. Sadly, I half-expect the game to add insult to injury by giving the character a cheesy accent.

Now what did I need that money for? The hammer. And the membership fee. Was that it? Yes, I had originally assumed I’d need to buy something from the “dodgy geezer” but it turned out to be the other way around. (Yes, I forgot about the white spirit at this point; I’ll remember below.)

The hammer came with a free nail and I was more convinced than ever that I’d need it to fix the loose plank below the swampling’s hut. This, too, turned out to be correct. And at the end of the boardwalk there it was... Skull Island. 


The entire village is down here crying / We out here dying on Skull Island.


Of course there was some frogsbane growing on top of the skull, so I returned to the druid’s hut and handed him the herb. Another fetch quest done and dusted. The druid turned back into a human being and gave me a potion with the words “DRINK ME” on the bottle. Can I alter my size by drinking this? Where will I need that ability?

Looking at my map I noticed that I’d also be able to buy the white spirit now. I’d forgotten all about that. I quickly went back to the talking tree and scrubbed off the pink splodge with the white spirit. The tree was very grateful and told me four magic words: Alakazam, Hocus Pocus, Abracadabra and Sausages. Well, technically it’s five words but the game doesn’t care either. Simon felt a bit ripped-off and resolved to look for some pink spray paint which was kind of funny. I disagreed with him because I knew I now had a wizard’s duel to look forward to.

I returned to the witch’s cottage but she wouldn’t fight me because I wasn’t even a proper wizard yet. Ah, maybe I should have coughed up that membership fee first. The problem was I had only 17 gold pieces and I needed 30.

This is where I got stuck again for quite a while. Not three hours stuck but maybe about fifteen minutes. Looking over my notes there were only a few hotspots I hadn’t found a use for. One was the boulder above the entrance to the dragon’s cave. And that one was a winner. I soon figured out that I might use the hook with the boulder which let me access the top of the cave. There was a hole there through which I was able to see the dragon’s treasure below. I tried to drop down the rope but that didn’t work. Then I tried to tie the rope to the bucket but that didn’t work either. Finally I tied the rope to the magnet and that worked. It wasn’t too hard because it was one of the few items I hadn’t used yet. Also when you use the magnet on the hole Simon tells you that he doesn’t have anything to lower it down with. But although Simon remarked on the silliness of this plan because gold was in fact not magnetic I was able to repeatedly dangle the rope down the hole and increase the amount of my gold coins. 


What some men will do here for diamonds / What some men will do here for gold. 
(this one’s for you, Adam!)


I was unable to steal more than 24 gold pieces from the dragon but I now had 41 of them which was more than enough to finally become a proper wizard. The head wizard then just pronounced me a wizard and I was left with a WizKid club wallet full of useless junk. But I was finally able to take on that witch. (Replace the wizard with a pirate, the wallet with a t-shirt and the witch with a sword master and you’re back on Melee Island.) She recognised me as a wizard now, made up the rules, and magic ensued. I had to pick one of the four magic words each time and she picked another or the same. We turned each other into animals and the more fearsome one won the round. It seemed impossible to lose (and I think it was – I replayed it two times to check) and I won 3-2. When I picked up my prize (the broom), however, the witch turned into a dragon, breaking her rules #2 (“no dragons”) and #3 (“no cheating”). The solution to this conundrum was to pick “Abracadabra” once more, turning Simon into a mouse. I was then able to exit the house via a mouse hole. 


The time will come when you’ll be blue / Your cheating heart will tell on you.


Now this seems like a very good place to stop because I seem to have run out of things to do. After the first three hours (which were a major pain) the other one and a half hours of this session were very satisfactory. Do I already need to move on toward the Tower of Doom at this point? I sure don’t feel ready for it but maybe, just maybe expect a won post next time.


Session time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Total time: 10 hours 45 minutes


20 comments:

  1. >It seemed impossible to lose

    The witch's moves seem randomised, it took me several tries to succeed. Lucky you.

    I had the opposite experience with the floorboard and the rock above the dragon's cave - the former I found early on while the latter I had to look up in a walkthrough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I must have been really lucky then.

      Yes, it was a good idea to keep a list of (unused) hotspots.

      Delete
  2. nice ! The witch duel seems like a mix between swordfighting in MI1 and the final showdown with Mordack on KQ5. Also, Simon saying he felt cheated after being given the magic words seems like poor feedback for most players that already found the witch and were actively trying to find those words.

    One of my favorite songs, is the snowy mountains one that has like 3 or 4 variations depending on your current screen, not imuse at all, they just restart when you switch screens, but really atmospheric music.

    As already discussed in previous posts, the main issue for me in this game is the lack of hotspots, but particularly for exits. Simon 2 included a show hotspots key (one of the first games to do so ?), but I think they didn't label the exits.

    There's a ton of missed opportunities for some lore, like, what's with all those statues in the snowy screens ? What's that statue behind the arabian market guy ? What's the relationship between all these characters ? They just seem parodies of various games and genres like MI, LOTR, Rapunzel, etc, but they don't feel very organic in this world.

    At this rate, I'm pretty sure your next post will be the last one.

    Good job again !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hold on... But this game has normal hotspots, right? I mean, aside the lack of hotspots for exits, objects do have hotspots, right? The longplays seem to indicate this is the case. Can you clarify what you mean by the "lack of hotspots"?

      Delete
    2. In Simon the Sorcerer 2, there is a hotkey to make a marker flash on all hotspots. Even though mousing over already reveals them, the hotkey is far more efficient.

      Delete
    3. yes sorry, what I meant was lack of hotspots for exits, and lack of hotspots highlighting for the rest

      Delete
    4. Absolutely. Another of these hidden hotspots really tripped me up in the endgame. It took me only 1.5 more hours to finish Simon the Sorcerer and yes, the tower was pretty easy. Mostly a lot of trial and error but way more pleasant than the rest of the game because I didn't have to traverse the whole world (map or not) in order to try out something.

      Delete
  3. The witch encounter is totally cribbed from the fight between Merlin and Mad Madam Mim, in the Disney movie Sword in the Stone. Except the Disney one is funnier because Mim makes the rule "no pink dragons and stuff" and then ends up transforming into a PURPLE dragon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good catch! And I agree, the Disney one is funnier.

      Delete
  4. The hotspot topic is interesting. It reminded me of the graphic adventures with no hotspots whatsoever, such as the first Gobliiins. I don't think there are any fans of this kind of games, but I don't totally discard it (maybe in the same vein of fans of text adventures because they give you "more freedom"). I wonder what other graphic adventures have hotspot issues, anyone remembers one?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations. Yes, the Floorboards in Repulsers Tower were exactly what I was referring to last time. That location seems thoroughly done with after you reached and rescued Repulser, and to my knowledge there's nothing in the game that insinuates that this tower might be the place where the Necromancer has his tomb - unless you count the sinister looking doorway as a hint (and the game has several sinister looking entryways, like e.g the goblins hold, so that doesn't really give away anything.

    Personally, I thing Getting the gold from the dragon was the most annoying puzzle in the game. I know Gold isn't magnetic, so I even when I found out you could combine the magnet with the fishing rod I dismissed the idea that you would get the gold with it, so I was convinced that tool was needed for something else. When you try it (and I only. Did because I was completely stuck and thought that you might get another, previously unseen item that way maybe), Simon even remarks that this is silly because gold isn't magnetic. AND THEN IT WORKS ANYWAY! The game has a few annoying quirks, but this was the one time I actually got angry in my playthrough.

    I had little trouble with the dwarfs however. Their only stick is that they're a) greedy and open for bribes, and b) all about the beer, but I got that into my head from early on (the password to the cave is beer, so that was already a pretty clear hint I figured), so getting the beer keg and finding a use for the beer voucher was pretty straightforward I thought (though why the one dwarf would give away a valuable gem in exchange for one free beer when the dwarves are constantly throwing leggers makes little sense, but whatever).

    Since this is a British game, I think the "dodgy geezer" is less rooted in the middle-eastern background as portrayed in the Indiana Jones games, and more a representation of the kind of guys you meet in places like Camden Market and your typical second-hand / carpet stores all around England, particularly London - guys selling "genuine article" out of the back of a van, that sort of thing. These places and fellas can indeed feel quite dodgy, and unfortunately a not too small number of them is in one way or another of Turkish, Afghan or Pakistani background, or actually fake that in order to lure passersby into a deal. I'm pretty sure that's what the game is referring to here.

    The wizard/witch duel? Yeah, ripped straight out of the Disney movie "The Sword in the Stone".

    Congratulations! You've cleared (in my opinion) the most difficult/ annoying obstacles the game has to offer. From now on it's relatively smooth sailing. I found the next section quite enjoyable in my recent playthrough (there was one rather tricky section which - again - boiled down to the "find the hotspot" issue, but the resulting joke/puzzle solution was one of the funniest the game had to offer, so I didn't mind. 🙂

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. throwing *keggers*, not leggers

      Delete
    2. The gold didn't trip me up that much because it seemed like your regular adventure game logic. Good point about the dodgy geeezer, I'm not sure your reading makes it less offensive, though.

      You were correct in that the remainder of the game was quite easy (and the most enjoyable part, too). Expect a short WON! post soon and then there'll be a final rating post that will also discuss the talkie version (at least briefly). Which joke/puzzle solution are you referring to? I had trouble finding the exit to the basement of the tower (the torture chamber) as well as the souvenir matches at the pits of Rondor. Nothing really tripped me up much but I would have finished the final section in about an hour without these two obstacles, I guess.

      Delete
    3. I was referring to the way Simon uses to get past the frog.

      Delete
    4. I found that to be quite straightforward. When I found the tadpole (admittedly after some pixel-hunting) it was clear to me what I'd have to do. I did try talking to the frog before I found the tadpole, however, so that might have made it easier.

      I would have thought you were talking about the 'spy on the demons' puzzle because that was delightful imo.

      Delete
    5. I really enjoyed that, too. In general the castle area is by far the most enjoyable part of the game - good puzzles, good fun.

      The finale and ending, by contrast, felt quite rushed and anticlimactic though.

      Delete
  6. No pictures of the wizarding duel? I don't think you ever showed the witch either, but I could be wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The picture with Simon facing the green Dragon-like creature is from the wizarding duel, with the with just having transmogrified herself into said dragon.

      Delete
    2. Yes, that's the final screen of the wizarding duel. To be honest it doesn't really look much different from the rest of the game. I'll talk about that issue in more detail in my final rating post. I had trouble finding suitable screenshots throughout the game.

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete