The sequel to the original 1993 title Simon the Sorcerer, Simon the Sorcerer II continues the story of our young wizard full of attitude. Transported back to the dreaded fantasy world of the first game by the evil sorcerer Sordid, Simon must find his way back home while dealing with rights-activist Woodworm, witches, wizards and pirates, all while wading through Almost-Banana flavored Swamp Shake.
The game begins with a young boy named Runt, who has purchased the deceased Sordid’s Spell Book. When his father finds out, he burns it and throws it onto a pentagram on the floor. Unknowingly, this summons Sordid’s ghost, who appoints Runt as his new apprentice and charges him with the task of bringing him back to life to take revenge on Simon.
Simon, having attended therapy for his experience in the previous game, is now older and more full of himself than ever. Upon a mysterious wardrobe appearing in his room and him entering, he finds himself once again flung back into the realm of Calypso and Sordid. Irritated and confused, Simon embarks on an adventure to find a way to get back home.
Simon the Sorcerer II, like its predecessor, is a mouse-driven point and click adventure. It doesn’t take too long to get used to. On the main screen at all times (with the exception of cutscenes and dialogue) is a panel with eight command icons. Players must click the corresponding command icon, and then the object they’d like to interact with to continue in the story. Commands include Move, Look at, Open/Close, Pick up, Talk, Wear, Use, and Give. So, say Simon has a key. The player would click "Use" and then "key", and then click on the object they’d like to use it on, such as a door. To move Simon, one simply clicks on the part of the screen they’d like to move him to.
Simon carries a limitless inventory with him, allowing him to hold and store items for later use. The game also features screens that can pan across while Simon walks, allowing easier access of an area without having to walk through so many screens. A map system has also been implemented so that whenever Simon leaves a particular area or scene, he’s automatically taken to a world map where you can warp to your next destination. This makes moving around in the game much easier and more enjoyable.
Dialogue is also an interactive activity: Simon can choose from multiple possible responses, allowing a huge array of possibilities. Among them are options such as to be very linear with the storyline in regards to dialogue, or completely off the wall and comical, sometimes even downright mean. It is important to note that Simon is an open-ended adventure, meaning that there is no one linear way to do things. Tasks can be accomplished and items acquired in different orders, making each player’s experience a little different.
Last but not least, this game features the ability to switch music, sound effects, speech, and subtitles on or off at any time during the game.
Simon the Sorcerer II features two separate world maps and over 17 separate inner-world locations.
It’s not hard to point out what was likable about Simon the Sorcerer II, because there were likable things around every corner. The humor is just as good as it was in the first game, with Simon displaying that classically cynical and sarcastic persona. The game makes numerous references to existing fairy tales, offering both a familiar and funny environment that makes you feel less foreign to the world in the game.
Looking at icons instead of text commands made the control panel area appear less cluttered and distracting, which was a very nice touch. Most enjoyable feature-wise was the fact that subtitles can be switched on or off at any time during the game. This is immensely helpful when you can’t always hear what’s going on in the game or there are numerous noisy distractions around you.
Since the game is a sequel, there are many comical references to the previous title: but the developers kept this in mind. At one point during the game, Simon will even stop a character in mid-speech to fill in the gamer. "Not everyone bought the first game you know!" The environments are also much more easily accessed, being the ideal size, so there’s no more useless backtracking or screens anymore.
There were a few things that could have been improved, though. The dialogue audio is sometimes stuffy, and can barely be heard over the music. This is probably one reason why the ability to turn various audio and subtitle aspects on and off was added. When subtitles are in use, sometimes it will cut parts of the speech off entirely, or wait too long before going to a character’s response, which can really throw off the rhythm of a conversation. Due to the fact the game was made in 1995 and isn’t 3D, depth perception can be really poor at times, and it can be difficult to find or even see certain items. Lastly (and attempting not to spoil anything!), the ending is a "to be continued", making it a little less enjoyable than the first.
Yet Simon the Sorcerer II is definitely a game that delivers. It’s quite accurate to add that it is one of a select group of sequels that can be considered just as good, if not better than the first game. This game would naturally appeal to anyone who’s played Simon the Sorcerer, but newcomers would also enjoy it. Anyone who appreciates a bit of cynical humor, fairy tales, or adventures (or a combination!) would quickly find themselves having fun and laughing with this creative title.