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If you experience just one adventure game in your lifetime, it should probably be The Secret of Monkey Island; but if that compels you to try another, there are far worse choices than Simon the Sorcerer.
Adventure Soft pulled this one out of the hat in 1993 when the point-and-click movement was at the peak of its popularity. The game had a similar look and feel to LucasArts' pirate masterpiece, yet set itself apart in a number of ways.
It was a parody of the fantasy genre that set out to lampoon everything from Lord of the Rings to fairy tales Jack and the Beanstalk and the Billy Goats Gruff, complete with enough wry humour to make it an edgier offering than other adventures.
Simon the Sorcerer centred on an everyday teenager who was whisked away to another dimension after a mishap with a spellbook he found in his attic.
He arrived in this fantasy world in wizarding attire (for reasons that were never explained) and soon found himself on a quest to rescue a benevolent conjurer named Calypso from the clutches of an evil sorcerer named Sordid.
Simon was one of the most sarcastic characters ever to appear in a game, and nobody was safe from his dry insults. Goblins, dwarves and demons were given a verbal beatdown by our hero, and more often than not, the results were hilarious.
Simon the Sorcerer was initially released for PC and Amiga on floppy disk, but a CD-ROM edition with a full 'talkie' soundtrack arrived on home computers two years later.
Pointy-hatted Simon was voiced by Red Dwarf star Chris Barrie, who singlehandedly brought the game to life, despite making the title character sound a few years older than he was supposed to be.
The game didn't play any differently to the early LucasArts adventures that flooded the market in the early 1990s, using a verb table interface that included commands like 'pick up' and 'talk to'.
Puzzles were fairly standard, rarely taxing seasoned adventurers.
I was in my early teens when the CD-ROM version launched, and tackled every puzzle without referring to a walkthrough, though I sometimes wonder if I was the only one who struggled to find those vines you had to climb down to reach Gollum.
This is the only time I can recall hitting wall and becoming 'stuck', and I still put that down to the programmers' failure to make said vines prominent enough.
There wasn't much substance to the story. Calypso, whom you're supposed to be rescuing, appears in name only and Simon's nemesis Sordid only shows up in the final scene, which was a shame because he had the potential to be a great villain.
Simon the Sorcerer largely relied on its humour, and later Barrie's vocals, to carry it, but on the whole, it was an adventure game done by the book that was enjoyable until the end.
It was more concerned with parody and wisecracks than telling a compelling tale, but this approach paid off and distinguished it from LucasArts and Sierra's output.
Adventure Soft essentially took what had been done before and reproduced it well, adding their own personality and sense of humour to the cauldron to cook up something that delighted adventure fanatics.
The studio conjured up a sequel in 1995 in the form of the Narnia-lampooning Simon the Sorcerer 2: The Lion the Wizard and the Wardrobe. Although it wasn't quite as well received as the original, it's a game I still have a soft spot for.
Simon the Sorcerer 2's world felt richer and more immersive, while the characters were more defined and fleshed out. The trademark insults were back in force, but unfortunately, Barrie was not, handing vocal duties over to Brian Bowles.
Simon's first foray into 3D territory was a disaster, as Simon the Sorcerer 3D was a glitchy, convoluted mess that is best avoided, no matter how desperate you are to see how Simon 2's cliff-hanger ending resolved itself.
The fourth and fifth entries in the series - Simon the Sorcerer 4: Chaos Happens and Simon the Sorcerer 5: Who'd Even Want Contact?! - were low-key affairs, limited to release territories where adventure games were financially viable at the time.
Admittedly, I know little about the fourth and fifth instalments (the title alone is enough to put me off number five), but from what I understand, they're enough of a departure from the early games to be considered reboots.
But Simon's legacy isn't about to be tarnished further, as a sixth instalment developed for fans by fans is seeking funding on Kickstarter.
Simon the Sorcerer: Between Worlds promises to take the character back to his British slacker roots and restore Barrie to the lead role. It sounds promising thus far, so let's hope the project secures the backing it needs to get off the ground.
Do you have any fond memories of Simon the Sorcerer? Post a comment below!