Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill & Lela
Hooray! Simon, the bad boy of sorcery, is finally back again after a very long wait. We were afraid that we were never going to get a chance to play this wonderful game. The previous Simon the Sorcerer game was published way back in 1995, and this one went gold (was finished and sent to the publisher for testing) in 2000. But unfortunately there were several corporate takeovers by publishers at the time, and the game got lost in the shuffle. It was shelved and almost forgotten, despite the pleas and several letter-writing campaigns from all of us Simon fans around the world.
But it's finally here, and we can tell you right now that it was well worth the wait. It's a funny, very challenging, totally engrossing game! Of all the games that we've played, we can only think of two others (Myst and The Longest Journey) that have kept us this enthralled, and glued to our computer for days at a time.
This series is famous for its offbeat humor, and the writers certainly haven't lost their touch. Their sly observations and social caricatures are all right on target, and will have you laughing in spite of yourself. And Simon, of course, never changes. He's an amoral, impudent, cocky adolescent with an attitude, in jeans and a ponytail, who swaggers when he walks. It has always been a mystery to us how he manages to remain lovable at the same time, but he does.
His attitude does cause him some problems however, not the least of which is his current situation, since the story begins where the last game left off. For those of you who aren't familiar with the first two games in this very popular series (Simon 1 and Simon 2), Simon got himself trapped in this magical fantasy world by really pissing off the local bad guy, an evil magician named Sordid. He made the mistake of killing Sordid in the first Simon the Sorcerer game, and so naturally Sordid got even in the second game ..... by stealing Simon's body! So as we rejoin him now, his first concern is to get his body back. But then he needs to find a way to refuel the Wardrobe that brought him here in the first place, so that he can finally get out of this crazy world and get back home. And it won't be easy (nothing ever is with Simon), because Sordid is still plotting to take over the universe.
This is a 3D game with 360-degree views, inventory, and subtitles. Both the controls of the game and the appearance of the characters are reminiscent of Grim Fandango. It uses keyboard controls instead of the mouse, but there is an introductory chapter designed to let you practice using them before the main game begins.
It is a very long game with 6 chapters in addition to the introduction, each with a different major quest, and several of the chapters are longer than most other games. The game takes full advantage of the 3D engine's capabilities. Simon can walk, jog, sprint, climb, and crawl, he flies on a bird and rides on a crocodile, and most of the puzzles involve using those different abilities in a 3D world. And we were very impressed with other realistic 3D details, such as Simon's moving reflection in a mirror, and the play of changing light on his face.
The gaming world is enormous (temple, forest, village, swamp, etc) and beautifully rendered, with stylized and highly detailed, colorful backgrounds. The music is varied to location and it's delightful, and the voice acting is absolutely perfect, with many new and memorable characters in addition to some of our old favorites, like Swampy and the hysterical Woodworms and Demons.
It's an extremely challenging game, and never boring. You no sooner solve one set of mysteries than a new one appears, and the many puzzles involved in each are innovative and fascinating. About three-fourths of them are traditional logic puzzles, and the rest are skill puzzles. But thankfully the developers designed the skill puzzles so that even people like us, who are not good at that sort of thing, can conquer them with patience. And they had an absolutely brilliant, first time ever, idea for the final puzzle that will blow your mind. We still don't believe it! Just make sure that your Auto Run is on, or you won't be able to solve it.
But be forewarned that there are some problems with this game because of insufficient testing, no doubt due to the corporate shenanigans mentioned previously. Adventure Soft, the original developer, is currently working on a patch to correct any problems. But the game is playable without one, especially if certain precautions are taken. The problems may involve anything from minor graphical distortions, to ones like freezing, or being suddenly kicked out of the game and back to your desktop.
So we strongly recommend that you do what we did. Disconnect from the Internet even if you have high-speed cable, and shut down any unnecessary programs or applications that you may have running in the background. Then do a maximum install, use 16 bit high color setting, and disable Active Desk Top "View As Web Page". And make sure that you save often, under different names (despite the fact that the game automatically restores whenever Simon is killed), so that you can restore if you have a problem. We had relatively few problems until we reached Chapter 6, when our game crashed several times. But because we had saved whenever possible, we were finally able to complete it.
It really is a shame that the game has some technical problems, but a patch is now available that will hopefully correct them. It's a wonderful game, and should become a true classic! We loved it, and had a ball playing it ..... and we think that you will too!
You'll have to visit the Simon The Sorcerer 3D Website to learn just a smidgen more about the story, see some wonderful screen shots of Simon's magical world and meet many of the other delightful characters.  Enjoy!
Developed (2002) by Headfirst Productions and published by Adventure Soft Publishers.
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Pentium 233 MHz MMX Processor; Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME / XP; 64 MB RAM; 8X CD ROM Drive; 8mb Direct3D Compatible Graphics Card; SoundBlaster Compatible Sound Card; 460 MB Free Hard Drive Space
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Walkthroughs or Hints: