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Video Game / Simon the Sorcerer

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Fear the dog!

A series of five adventure games, created initially by Adventure Soft and Head First Production, later by the German company Silver Style Entertainment, in the which the protagonist, an obnoxious, narcissistic teenager from our universe, gets sucked into another universe by the good wizard Calypso to fight the evil wizard Sordid.

Basic as the plot may sound, these games include endless charming parodies of various popular books and fairy tales, including Rapunzel, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Three Billy Goats Gruff. To wit: the latter involves a troll protesting about being tossed from a bridge every day and thus wishing to rework his contract.

The first game was about as well received as the Monkey Island games at the time, getting scores in the 90% area. Seven games have been made in total (two games being average pinball and puzzle games), the first two beloved, the subsequent sequels... not so much. An eighth game that would bring the series back to its roots with 2D graphics, a more British sense of humour and hand-drawn imagery was later in development by StoryBeasts. Unfortunately, the developing team broke up and the project was cancelled. In the year 2022 the prequel game Simon the Sorcerer: Origins developed by Smallthing Studios was announced.

The first two games are also available as apps in the Apple Store and can be played on the iPad. Whether it's as fun or practical to play as the PC version is arguable. In 2018, a 25th anniversary edition was released on Steam.

Simon is voiced in the first game by Chris Barrie, known for his roles in Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire.

Tropes used in the games include:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Simon in Simon 3D has black hair instead of the usual brown
  • All Cloth Unravels: This is how you defeat a mummy in Simon the Sorcerer.
  • Alliteration & Adventurers: In the second game, Simon encounters a group of nerds playing Apartments And Accountants.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The second game alleviated Pixel Hunt by giving you a hotkey which briefly highlights every object on screen that you can interact with.
  • Bag of Holding: Simon's hat can hold such things as barrels and ladders. As with everything else, Simon lampshades it a few times. Though oddly he won't pick up a loose plank under Swampy's house saying "It's too big for me" despite it being no bigger than the ladder was.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • In Simon the Sorcerer, you lose your whole inventory (you use a shrinking potion but all your stuff except clothes stay the same). As the game had an annoying tendency to clutter up your inventory with things you use only once, this was a good thing.
    • This happens again in the sequel, twice. The first time it happens Simon says "Ah! My inventory!". As before, none of the previously held items were needed in the new areas and the removal of the old inventory removes useless clutter.
    • And again, this happens in the third game several times. The first time, it's even lampshaded, as the goblin that gives you the rainbird asks you all the useless items in the inventory as payment.
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird: In the second game, after you use three balloons to get to the castle treasure room through a window, a bird bursts all three balloons when you leave the room.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Simon the Sorcerer the protagonist encounters a group of four wizards; when he talks to them, they pretend they are farmers. But you can point out that when you point at them with the cursor, it says "wizards"... And when you talk to them, you DO treat them as wizards. You can even tell them about the cursor. You have even to tell them about it, when you want to get a wizard. Any other explanation, how you may know, that they are wizards, they wouldn't believe.
  • Candlelit Ritual: A ritual to banish two demons to Hell requires a double-square with 8 candles at each of the square's corners, a mouse, a human skull, and knowing the demons' true names.
  • Child Mage:
    • Played with in the games, where Simon is a regular British kid from our world who ends up in the magical realm. However, he doesn't have any magical abilities on his own.
    • During the second game, Simon uses a few magic tricks, like cleaning or drying himself, but the player can't control when that happens. Also there are several animations of Simon's avatar when you left it idle for a while, including summoning some silver balls to juggle them, and levitating as he takes the lotus position.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Simon the Sorcerer 3D has a strange character called Jar Nin whom you accidentally kill at the beginning of the game. Towards the end of the game it turns out that you have to resurrect him because you need him on your team. But when you do, he does exactly nothing and even vanishes shortly after, never to be seen or mentioned again. To be precise, except of Coneman the Barabrain, the entire subplot about great heroes was kinda pointless.
  • Collector of the Strange: In the second game, the two gargoyles guarding the entrance to the Fortress of Doom discuss how far Simon would be able to make it without dying, followed by expressing hope that they are allowed to keep his kneecaps.
  • Combinatorial Explosion: The series is notable for having Simon comment on the sillier combinations.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: At the end of the first game, Simon's and Sordid's showdown takes place on a ledge next to a crater of boiling lava, which causes them no apparent discomfort.
  • Covers Always Lie: On the cover art for the first game, Sordid already has the metallic body he puts his soul into in the second game.
  • Curse Cut Short: Simon The Sorcerer 3D, when Runt has kidnapped the Swampling and is currently levitating Simon over the trigger switch to a bomb.
    Simon: "Shi-" (Runt drops him)
  • Deadpan Snarker: Simon himself.
    Oh sure, I'll just tear off all these locks and chains with my BARE HANDS!note 
  • Death Is the Only Option: In one puzzle in Simon The Sorcerer 3D, Simon escapes from a locked room by goading the barbarian who's locked in the room with him into killing him, and coming back to life on a reincarnation tile outside the room.
  • The Dragon: Runt in the second and third games.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His very first line (If you don't count the opening credits) is him saying he wants to run his dog Chippy through the dryer cycle because he's bored.
  • Evil Counterpart: At the end of the third game, a second Simon appears who is different in two aspects: a) he's corporeal (long story) and b) he has a goatee. Wait, Simon's not a nice guy either, right? Well it turns out that the counterpart is actually the ''lawful'' counterpart to Simon. He even shaves his beard to get rid of the stigma.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Sordid.
  • Evil Twin: The ending of the third game introduces a second Simon with a stereotypical Beard of Evil. Fridge Logic kicks in once you realise that Simon himself isn't really a good guy. The sequel reveals that the other Simon is actually his ''lawful'' twin.
  • Fantastic Fantasy Is Mundane: In the second game, Simon encounters a group of nerds playing Apartments And Accountants.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Done to solve a puzzle in Simon the Sorcerer. To get rid of a living snowman, eat some mints to make the titular character breath fire on it.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: The cliffhanger ending to the second game is based around one of these.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The second game had a strange bug where a certain character and the object you needed to give them were on the same screen, and you could successfully use the SCUMM-style interface to "Give <object> to <character>" despite <object> not being in your inventory. This skipped a large chunk of game and messed up many dependencies.
  • Gainax Ending: The first game ends jarringly as soon as Sordid is vanquished, with a games show presenter to make a shameless plug over next year's sequel. Even Simon is baffled and asks what is going on. We don't see Calypso make a proper appearance after being saved. Suddenly, Simon's back on Earth, in his bedroom believing it was All Just a Dream. Then a huge mechanical arm emerges from a portal to abduct him back to the fantasy world.
  • The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: The game contains a fair share of references as well. Somewhat justified what with Simon being transported from a modern world into a magical fantasy realm, but the fantasy realm itself seems pretty heavy on the references and not just to fairy tales and fantasy books, mind you.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: A brief scene in the second game features this trope. Simon being Simon opts to side with the bad angel.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • By far the worst is in Simon the Sorcerer 3D. The game is full of moments like that, but the final puzzle is just unforgettable. You're in front of a huge computer, and you must put a CD there. The problem is that the computer has no button to open the CD space. So, what to do? Oh, easy: just stand in front of the computer with the CD on your hand, and then open the CD space of your REAL-LIFE COMPUTER, so that the in-game computer opens. No previous hints at any point.
    • Climbing. There's a point in the third game that requires you to climb a rock. It could have been much easier if you were told at some point that you're able to climb in that game. During the tutorial you're explained everything else you can do there, but the only thing you really should have been explained was left unexplained. Actually the manual tells it, but there's no in-game explanation. Besides, considering that's the only time in the whole game where you can actually climb (except from another rock in the very first room, but it's pointless to climb there, so most players will finish the game without knowing they could climb there), players could even believe it was a Dummied Out mechanic.
    • The second game also features a crowning moment of Guide Dang It near the end of the game. You need to be able to sneak past a monstrous guard. The solution to muffling Simon's footsteps? Wear a dog. This command makes Simon magically transform the dog into a pair of fuzzy slippers and wear them. On one hand, a recurring source of humor in the series is Simon's near total inability to use actual magic, but on the other hand, there are many instances in the second game where he uses magic effortlessly, like in the Idle Animation, or when he has to dry himself. Regardless, this trick comes out of nowhere.
  • Hammerspace: Simon puts everything he picks up in his pointy hat, including a ladder.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: According to a rumour you can hear from the barkeep in the first game, King Tristan the 2nd has married a tree, which in turn has produced many fine saplings by him.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Simon the Sorcerer has an animation of Simon stuffing a ladder into his hat. Granted, it is a magical hat.
  • Idle Animation: In the first game, Simon would put on headphones and listen to music. In the second game, he would levitate, look closer at the screen, juggle, and get so old that he's reduced to a skeleton.
  • I Know Your True Name: Towards the end of Simon the Sorcerer, you must banish two demons to back to hell. One requirement for the ritual to do so is knowing their true names. Strangely enough, they want to go back to Hell, but still refuse to give out their names to you. Though this could have something to do with their true names being "Belchgrabbit" and "Snogfondle".
  • Informing the Fourth Wall: Several distinct lines including when you Use Crowbar on any person: "Very tempting and very illegal", pick up any person: "I prefer blondes", and eat anything not meant to be eaten: "That is not part of a balanced diet". It's interesting to note that, if you want to pick up a blond girl, you get a different response, usually something on the lines of "Not my type" or "She wouldn't like that".
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: The tribal drummer Um Bongo. Apparently Simon's name means Rabbit's Colon in his tongue.
  • Innocent Aliens: In the fifth game you have to stop what appears to be an alien invasion, turns out the aliens are tourists unaware that their cameras have a bad reaction with magical matter. And their planning to end the tour by taking a picture of the entire planet with predictable results.
  • Interface Spoiler: Invoked in the first game. You can locate a group of wizards at a bar using this method, and address them by their title. When they ask you how you knew they were wizards, Simon points out that they are labeled "wizards" by the game.
  • Iron Maiden: The first game has Simon being forced to hide from some goblins inside an iron maiden. Played for Laughs, since he claims the maiden has cured his hayfever via acupuncture, and the first thing he does when he escapes is drink a glass of water, which leaks out of his body through the holes.
  • Jerkass: Simon himself. He wouldn't even be the hero of the series if it were up to him.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The first game had tons of items you'd accumulate, most of which were used maybe once, and then stayed in your inventory instead of being lost. There are two times in the game where you (thankfully) lose your possessions though, and the assorted crap forms a HUGE pile.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In spades.
  • Leaf Boat: One puzzle requires the protagonist to improvise one of these after being shrunk.
  • Lethal Chef: Swampling. "Eat up your stew!" Hilariously, he has his own fast food restaurant franchise by the second game.
  • Long John Shout-Out: In the second game, Simon encounters Captain John Longs Silver.
  • Medium Awareness: Simon the Sorcerer has an early scene where Simon has to get past a group of wizards' attempted denials of their being wizards. The correct dialogue option is to mention that the word 'Wizards' pops up when the mouse cursor is pointing at them.
  • Metal Detector Puzzle: In the first game, the player has to literally use a metal detector to find a mythical metal known as "milrith", said to be stronger than even mithril. This pretty much involves trying the detector on every screen until it picks up the ore.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: The Barbarian, to a splinter in his foot.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle:
    • The first game has a puzzle that requires you to use a magnet to collect gold coins. Simon even points out how stupid this is.
    • The second game features a puzzle that is relative straightforward: Use a pair of fuzzy slippers to sneak past a monster. But the way of GETTING those slippers is absolutely bizarre, you have to use the "wear" command on a dog, which turns said dog into a pair of slippers via magic. Note that while Simon is a sorcerer that is the only point in the game where you can do magic just like that.
  • Morton's Fork: The druid in the first game explaining how to determine whether someone is a demon. The only surefire way is to thrust a silver dagger through its heart. If the creature dies, it is a demon. If the creature lives, its heart is pure, and so it needs to be sacrificed.
  • Multiple Head Case: There's a two headed shopkeeper in the first game whose heads bicker about where the merchandise should go ("The asparagus jelly belongs with the other jellies!" "I think it belongs with the vegetables!"). Apparently they don't share digestive systems, since one head complains about needing to go to the toilet and the other snaps that he'll just have to restrain himself. It is revealed if you listen to them long enough, that they were originally one person (the right head) but he touched a glowing stone, causing a second head to grow from his shoulder. Whether this is magic or a mutation is never explained.
  • Mundane Solution: At the end of the first game, Sordid spends some time trying (and failing) to light through magic a lava pit that Simon has previously turned off. Eventually, Simon manages to light it by using a box of matches.
  • Namedar: Spoofed in the first game. Early in the game you have to gain the assistance of a group of wizards, but they insist they're not wizards (so they won't have to do anything). Most sensible comments on why they must be wizards is deflected; the proper choice is to tell them that the text says "wizards" when you drag the pointer over them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Simon has to find four heroes in the third game so they can help save the world. Three of which he has been personally responsible for being dead, crippled, and a frog.
  • No-Gear Level: In the first game, you lose all your inventory after getting shrunk. You won't get it back, but you no longer need it, anyway.
  • No Time to Explain: A doppelganger of yours says this literally in Simon the Sorcerer 2 after you break out of a cell. He also hands you a strange twig that teleports you outside and as it turns out, your doppelganger was actually your future self helping you escape via a so called timestick.
  • One-Person Birthday Party: In the first game, when Simon visits the swampling's house, Swampy mistakes him for a guest come to celebrate Swampy's birthday. Swampy's actual birthday was three weeks earlier, but Swampy doesn't mind Simon being late because he's still the first guest to show up.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: Parodied. Simon meets an owl in a tree labeled "Wise owl" but instead of giving useful advice the owl turns out to suffer from dementia and can't finish a single sentence.
  • Palate Propping: In the first game, Simon uses a stick to jam the jaws of a slavering Chest Monster.
  • Paper Key-Retrieval Trick: Used as the solution to a puzzle in Simon the Sorcerer, when Simon finds himself locked inside a pantry.
  • Patchwork Map: You have a temperate forest right next to a swamp right next to some icy mountains, and so on, and so on, in it's defense, it IS a magical world.
  • Permanently Missable Content: An awful LOT of dialogue in the first game is missed out depending on what choices you make about your response. The player can miss out on some potentially hilarious gossip and satire this way. The only way to get these exchanges is to start over from the beginning.
  • Pixel Hunt: Averted in the second game. Hit F10 and all on-screen objects are highlighted. ScummVM backports this feature to the first game as well, where this is originally played straight.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: The titular character looks the part... except he's not an actual sorcerer but a snarky kid from our world, who keeps getting dragged into the magical one to fight Sordid. His pointy hat may be magical, considering he keeps his entire inventory in there.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: In the first game, the Shapeshifter Showdown against the Witch functions as a game of RPS: snake beats cat, cat beats mongoose, and mongoose beats snake.
  • Scaled Up: At one point, you partake in a "wizard's duel" (read: magical rock-paper-scissors) with a witch. Upon winning three rounds, the witch transforms into a dragon (breaking the rule she set at the start). This is completely ineffective, of course - you just transform into a mouse and escape through the small mousehole in the wall.
  • Scenery Porn: The first game has many, many locations that are completely empty and whose only purpose is to look gorgeous. Interestingly, at least in the first game, in the wilderness faces are everywhere. If there are cliffs, rock formations, or really anything made of stone, expect to find at least one. This becomes more obvious as you enter the mountains, as the formations become more Eldritch Abomination like in appearance. While beautiful, making you feel like you've stepped straight into a parody of Middle Earth, the level of detail can work against the player. Some key items are obscured, like the fossil, making them very easy to overlook and miss.
  • Schizo Tech: While the games are placed in a mostly medieval-ish setting, there's still automobiles, vacuum cleaners and bad video games.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Occurs near the end of the second game.
  • Screen Tap: Simon does this to show the player he is 'getting bored' when the player does nothing for too long.
  • Selective Magnetism: Lampshaded in the first game when Simon points out that the magnet will not work on gold coins as gold is not magnetic, right up to the point when it does.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Rather than just having its own self-contained story, Simon the Sorcerer ends very unsatisfyingly with a games show presenter hijacking the plot to make a shameless plug over next year's sequel. Even Simon is baffled and asks what is going on.
    • Simon the Sorcerer 2 ended with Simon still trapped in Sordid's body.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: Against the Witch in the first game.
  • Shout-Out: Practically the games' raison d'être. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and The Sword in the Stone are among the most obvious ones.
  • Snowlems: There is one as an advisory, beaten by eating mints.
  • Taken for Granite: In the first game, Sordid has been doing this to his enemies.
  • Telephone Teleport: In the third game, there are several phone booths placed around the city and the countryside that allow you to travel instantly from one booth to another.
  • Third Is 3D: Simon The Sorcerer 3D.
  • 30 Minutes, or It's Free!: In Simon the Sorcerer 3D, Pizza Lord charge 10,000 coins for their pizzas, unless they take more than 1 minute to arrive. To get your pizza for free, you have to give one of the characters a bottle of booze; the pizza delivery boy has a terrible sense of direction and is forced to ask the character for directions, but if the character is drunk they'll refuse to help and slow the delivery down.
  • Too Qualified to Apply: Simon the Sorcerer 3D features a carnival run by demons, who will not allow a dwarf to play the "Test-your-strength" game... because he's a dwarf, and is naturally stronger than a human.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: For the dwarves in the first game: beer. This becomes a plot point. They like it so much that "beer" is the password to their mine.
  • Umpteenth Customer: In the second game, a tattooist gives a free tattoo to his 100th customer. Since your character has no money, you need to talk another character to going first so that you can get the tattoo done free.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The final puzzle of the third game involves opening the CD drive on an in-game computer by opening the CD drive of your own real computer. However, not all computer setups handle this the same way on the programming side. Already at the time of the game's release, some computers would not send the signal the game looks for as an indication that the CD drive was opened, therefore making the final puzzle impossible to solve.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: In the first game Simon is a little bland but generally sympathetic. This all changes by the second game when he acts like a sexist, mean-spirited, stubborn, self-loathing, whiny, sadistic jerk to everyone he meets. Many of the game's puzzles require Simon to screw over the game's other characters in order to get his own way. This continues in the third game where, when tasked with assembling four specific characters, he discovers that three of them are people that he has variously killed, crippled and turned into a frog in his adventures up to that point. The fourth he simply leered at whilst making near-constant remarks about her large chest and revealing outfit. It helps that Simon gets dumped on almost as often as he messes with everyone else, preventing him from becoming a monster and generally leading to hilarity. Bonus points for the fact that in the first game, he is voiced by Chris Barrie, who played the similar character Rimmer in Red Dwarf.
  • Warp Whistle: Especially in the first and the third. The first features a magic map in your inventory that, when used at any place of the world, allows you to instantly appear in a few specific parts of the world (useful especially to travel around the maze-like forest). The third features two sets of scattered magic phonebooths, one around the countryside and other inside the city, and entering any of them allows you to appear at any booth belonging to the same set. Later on the same game, you get a rainbird that, when summoned, rides you from anywhere in the world to anywhere where there's a platform with a picture of a bird (they're scattered around the countryside and the city, and a few in areas not reachable by other way).
  • You Bastard!: The cliffhanger ending of the second game has Simon criticize the player for enjoying the situation he's ended up in (stuck in Sordid's body and at the receiving end of much humiliation by the citizens while Sordid romps around in his body in the real world), and throws in a bit of Paranoia Fuel to drive the point home.