Released in 1993, the original Simon the Sorcerer was a hit. Going head-to-head with the likes of LucasArts’ and Sierra’s best point-and-click adventure games, achieving such a memorable status was no small feat. Once again, however, this game is riding on the coattails of one of LucasArts’ best, The Secret of Monkey Island. How does this iPhone reincarnation fare?
Adventure games, thankfully, benefit from a certain timelessness that keeps them fresh throughout the years, and having this kind of interactive fiction at your fingertips on the iPhone has an even greater charm. You’ll follow teenage Simon in the first part of his adventures (there were four sequels, which we expect to be ported in the coming months) as he passes through a magical portal into a high fantasy world and stumbles upon the comical quest of rescuing the wizard Calypso.
This is where Simon conducts his pagan rituals.
Despite sporting no graphical upgrades, the game holds up very well. The locales are all detailed, the character designs are interesting and memorable, and the colors are bright and vivid. That’s not to say things are perfect, though. The iPhone’s small screen makes some of the finer details a bit hard to see. In having to use your finger as the cursor, it can be even more challenging to properly align everything, as your finger can cover up what you need to see.
There are two methods of pointing, although neither seemed decidedly better than the other. The first features a standard cursor, which you can drag about the screen, whether you are actually touching the cursor or not. Then, tapping anywhere on the screen will activate the cursor. The more modern approach magnifies the area you are currently touching to help you find objects more easily. Select your action (move, pick up, use, and so on) and then find the object, releasing your finger when you’ve highlighted it. You can switch between these modes on the fly, but both felt cumbersome in the end.
The thatched roof indicates this is where Margaret Thatcher lives.
Granted, these are minor complaints, given how hilarious and well written this game is. It’s not quite on par with a Monkey Island or Space Quest, but it beats the pants off a lot of the modern competition. The voice work, too, is above par, with plenty of life in the acting, something missing in far too many adventure games. This version also features the revamped soundtrack from James Woodcock, which sounds fantastic when listened to through headphones.
Control quibbles aside, this is a fantastic trip down memory lane that is well worth the $4.99 price of admission for point-and-click fans, especially those who never played this 16 years ago, and its auto-save feature makes it a perfect companion for your morning and afternoon commute adventures. Brush up on your Ye Olde Spellbooke and begin your wizard training without delay. You won’t likely regret it.