for something different, and to prove that no two gamers think alike and
that you should not limit yourself to one reviewer, we have decided to
give two perspectives on the latest chapter in the Simon the Sorcerer
saga. As flotsam won the arm wrestle, he gets to go first.
I have never played a Simon game,
so this experience wasnít going to be either enriched or diminished by
comparison with what went before. Which some may say is a problem, given
that a little bit of research suggests that the character of Simon has
evolved as we have gone along, and even that this Simon might have de-volved
just a bit, being more like he was in the earlier games. As I said, I have
no idea, so I will have to take him as I find him.
Which is asleep, until a knock on
the door interrupts his nap. Simon answers, and is confronted by aliens,
and not nice ones either. Itís an invasion, one which leads to a
kidnapping and smelling like a mole. Plus a lot of inventory based
conundrums and an equal amount of dialogue.
Past characters are present,
including Alix his love, Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood. The moles
appear new, as do the Nihonians.
I have to say this wasnít my cup
of tea. The story was ok, but the humour was anything but humorous, and
the voice acting, with a few exceptions, was fairly awful (if there is a
worse game voice than Swampy, it can only be Mustavio in Keepsake).
The game felt like it had been designed primarily for 14-year-olds, with
some occasional rude words and bouncy breasts thrown in to spice it up a
little. Add some silly stereotypes and it all just left me flat.
Which is a bit of a shame, because
if inventory conundrums are your thing, there are a whole lot of them
here. There is also a rather good hint system, and cursor keys to tell you
where all the hotspots are in a scene (should you want to know) as well as
all the exits.
Itís also nicely drawn, if a
little flat and muted in colour. It isnít as richly or as sharply drawn as
say the Runaway games, or the later Broken Swords, but the slightly
ramshackle appearance suits the events. Some scenes are also observed from
a perspective other than the Ďtraditionalí side on view, which gives the
game world some variety. I thought the character modelling was a high
point, not from a technical perspective (the ventriloquist-doll eyes were
a little freaky) but in terms of each character being distinct and suited
to their particular profession or predilection. I say that of course
without knowing what a real Nihonian looks like.
Of course, humour is in the eye of
the beholder, as are a lot of other things, and so the fact that it didnít
appeal to me proves nothing other than it didnít appeal to me. The game
boards suggest there are plenty of people enjoying the game as I write.
But not me.
Well done, deranged one
is third person point and click, driven entirely by the mouse. Right click
to examine, left click to pick up. Move the cursor to the bottom of the
screen to bring up the inventory, where you can further examine and
combine items. Simply click, then click in the game world to use them.
Double click to run. Itís easy, and is explained by a little tutorial from
Simon very early on.
Dialogue trees are prevalent, and
Simon will repeat the chosen phrase. As I said earlier, there is quite a
bit of dialogue, and at times it contains triggers and other information
necessary to move forward - so exhausting conversation topics is advised.
You can click through it if you want to (although you wonít then know what
is going on).
F1 brings up the journal, which
keeps track of your tasks, and warrants looking at if you arenít sure what
you are supposed to be doing. You access the hint system through the
journal as well, with three levels of hint given for each conundrum. I
used it here and there, and it worked well.
Itís a good length, depending of
course on how laterally you think at times, but the volume of conundrums
will probably mean it will keep you going for ten hours at least. If you
save before dealing with the green dragon, you can also play three
different paths for resolving that particular puzzle.
is probably one you will have to pass judgement on yourself. Which isnít
terribly helpful, but it is honest! As a gaming experience, I canít give
it any more than a C+.
The humor in Simon 5 aims
to return to that in Simon the Sorcerer I and II. The classic Simon
way is to express eagerness to save the world while being obnoxious and
sarcastic along the way. Simon 5 follows this formula, but it's
weighted down with long dialogs. Conversing with Swampy, Red Riding Hood,
the Genie and Captain Narrow was tedious -- sometimes even painful. Some
of the "adult" humor was almost cringe-inducing.
Simon retains his American accent
from Simon 4. I know this will disappoint fans of Simon 1.
If it's any consolation, the actor does a good job, especially considering
some of the awkward dialog that he voices.
On the plus side, Siegfriedís War
Hammer is a great character, whose talents and pithy statements light up
the journey. The character of the Big Bad Wolf takes an unexpected turn
near the end, which is the funniest sequence in the game. It's as though,
in these later sequels, Simon has become a foil; the game is most
entertaining when other characters take the lead as anti-Simons.
The graphics evoke the original
Simon games and are much more cartoon-like than those in Simon 4.
The environments are colorful and creative and fun to explore -- I
particularly liked the habitat of the giant moles.
If you enjoy dastardly, often
clever inventory challenges, you will find many here. The special gadgets
provide variety -- one gadget allows you to search for various substances
and one measures the energy level of everyone and everything, with some
entertaining side commentary from Simon. The Wolf's "gifts," which he must
first discover and then use late in the game, also make for amusing
There are positive aspects to this game, but you have to
wade through a lot of stilted dialog and unlikeable characters to
appreciate them. If you are a fan of the first two Simon adventures and of
politically incorrect stereotypes, you should try this one. If you enjoy
inventory based adventures and cartoon-like graphics -- and if you can
overlook the lengthy dialogs and one-dimensional characters -- you might
also give it a whirl. I give it a B-.
Simon the Sorcerer: Who'd Even Want Contact?! can be
purchased via download at