Simon the Sorcerer Origins: the return of the Point and Click saga told by its (new) creator

Simon the Sorcerer Origins: the return of the Point and Click saga told by its (new) creator

Simon the Sorcerer Origins

It was the early nineties and the gaming world was different. Probably, many fans of today see it as a better time, but as often happens it is not exactly true and nostalgia clouds the view. Undeniably, however, it was a period during which ideas were not lacking and certain genres had the space to be appreciated. One of these was that of point and click adventures, which today have lost their media strength and survive above all through the efforts of indie productions and re-editions of old classics.

In recent times, however, the genre is gaining new impetus also thanks to slightly more massive productions. Among the various upcoming projects, such as that of Monkey Island, there is also a new Simon the Sorcerer, scheduled for the first quarter of 2023 on PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S. This new chapter will be called Simon the Sorcerer Origins and will position itself as a prequel to the original chapter.

But let's take a step back before looking into the future and remember exactly what Simon the Sorcerer is.

Simon the Sorcerer and Adventure Soft

Simon the Sorcerer: 25th Anniversary Edition 1993, England. Adventure Soft developer prepares to release a new point and click adventure: Simon the Sorcerer. The protagonist is the owner Simon, a little boy who has been transported to a parallel universe seasoned with magic and monsters and whose task is now to become a wizard and save another from an evil sorcerer. The most famous characteristics of Simon the Sorcerer were the humor, the wide world full of interesting characters and above all the excellent graphics quality, which impressed the players and critics of the time.

At the head of the project there were Mike Woodroffe and his son Simon Woodroffe (no, the name of the character is not dedicated to the latter), who took care of the script of the adventure, aiming to create a world magical that it was first of all appropriate to its characters and not thought solely around the puzzles. Furthermore, there was a conscious effort to make Simon the Sorcerer's comedy more "English", to differentiate it from Monkey Island.

It was certainly a project born from the passion of the Woodroffe and their small team, which all epoch counted only 15 people. The company, formerly known as HorrorSoft, used to make horror games and Woodroffe felt it was time to switch and try a comedy game (which caused the company to change its name to Adventure Soft).

Simon the Sorcerer: 25th Anniversary Edition Success was immediate, with a total of 600,000 copies sold and excellent press ratings. The saga then continued with a second chapter in 1995: Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe, obviously inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia. This too was appreciated and obtained a following in 2002, which however switched to 3D, in respect of the new fashions of the industry: it was a complex project and did not obtain the hoped-for appreciation.

Incredibly, however, the saga did not end there, but continued in the following years with other various sequels: Simon the Sorcerer 4: Chaos Happens (2007, marks the change of hands to the Germans of Silver Style Entertainment), Simon the Sorcerer 5: Who'd Even Want Contact ?! (2009) and Simon the Sorcerer 6: Between Worlds (2014, made by Irish company StoryBeasts). In the midst of all this, we can also mention a Pinball game and a puzzle game that included three games based on the world of Simon the Sorcerer.

Simon the Sorcerer's second life, however, was lived quietly, for a saga that had lost its original strength. The hope of a great new chapter is not dead, however, because the Italians of Smallthing Studios have managed to obtain from the original author the license to create a new game: Simon the Sorcerer Origins.

Simon the Sorcerer Origins

Simon the Sorcerer inside an inn Smallthing Studios is an Italian team (with also a team in the USA) founded by Massimiliano Calamai, who is CEO and Game Director, and by Stefano Campodall'Orto , who plays the role of CTO and Lead Coder. We are talking about two historical figures of the Italian videogame market, who during their careers have collaborated with big companies and created games dedicated to Martin Mystere and Diabolik, as well as videogames such as Fightin 'Spirit, Pray For Death and more.

Massimiliano Calamai spoke to us a little more about Simon the Sorcerer Origins, during one of our recent short circuits, which you can review in full format below.

Simon the Sorcerer Origins, as already mentioned, brings back to the dawn of the saga and stands as a prequel to the very first chapter of 1993. Precisely, Origins is set a few weeks before the events that started the series and, as Calamai told us, the plot was made using " small flaws "in the original story to ensure that this adventure was also perceived by fans as a natural addition to the franchise.

Woodroffe was impressed by what he achieved created by Smallthing Studios in narrative terms, as well as in stylistic terms. Obviously, obtaining the license was not an easy process and it took him a year of work to perfect the fundamental components of the game and close the deal. The difficulties were also linked to the fact that, for Woodroofe, Simon the Sorcerer is a project born of passion. Calamai explains that if for a great IP it is enough to put enough money on the table, for a saga like this it is much more important to demonstrate that you have a winning idea and the ability to respect its integrity.

Simon activates a magic contraption Obviously this does not mean creating a carbon copy of the original, but on the contrary it means putting your own. Smallthing Studios has in fact revolutionized the graphic aspect, proposing a new cartoon style for the saga.

"In fact, Simon never had artistic guidelines: Simon 1 & 2 were pixel art titles because that was the technique of the time ". Calamai explains to us that nowadays we tend to consider the style of games of this type as something unique and deeply studied, but quite simply pixel art was the only graphic style available to developers.

Simon only had the need to propose graphics that were able to convey the fairytale atmosphere of the plot, but "the guidelines stopped at the first and second [chapter], the other episodes released shortly after were [made] according to the time and technology: there has never been a studio. "

Simon in a swamp It is therefore natural for Simon the Sorcerer Origins to follow his own path also on a stylistic level. Jokingly, Calamai explains to us that the team gave Mike Woodroffe a heart attack by proposing a total renewal of the visual component. Seriously, Smallthing Studios was able to convince Simon's original creator that he had "strength, resources, skills and quality because our artists were able to breathe new life into this license".

The interface has also been made much more modern, without disturbing the old structure with the verbs of the 90s. Unfortunately Calamai could not give us very precise details, but he revealed to us that Simon the Sorcerer Origins is "a point and click adventure, modern, basic, as far as we are concerned it is a story to tell, you could have a joypad, a joystick of the Commodor 64 or the ColecoVision pad, but you need to have fun only in a natural way, so our interface will be very simple and very natural. Therefore we will not have the verbs that were an evolution of the text adventures of the 80s and were a necessity technique, also to have less visual screen ".

" We will have a modern interface, in our opinion very practical with some special and original gems - if I may say so - that are part of Mike's 'little heart attack' .. . but actually we like these: they are very original ideas, a couple of which have never been adopted in adventure games, but we are convinced that they really work very well. "

Simon the Sorcerer Origins is therefore a game mode rno, not a project that only wants to leverage fans of the genre and the original saga. Even on a narrative level, as a prequel, he will not pretend to know the first chapter, although obviously there will be references and easter eggs to what happened in the 1993 game.

Simon in front of the Bloated Goat Inn Simon the Sorcerer is a project born from the passion of Adventure Soft and will return to modern computers and consoles thanks to the passion of an Italian team that, with great pride, has chosen an Italian publisher for Origins: Leonardo Interactive. Calamai explains to us: "We really like the idea that they are Italian, we wanted an exclusively Italian operation: we really liked this idea, almost a shot of pride alone fired there a stone's throw from London. [...] We had different opportunities obviously also outside Italy, but [the members of Leonardo Interactive] are smart, they are full of passion, of the desire to make it work ".

We too can't wait to try the game which, for the moment, has only been presented with a small trailer to be considered as non-definitive: various graphic improvements and optimizations are coming for the final version, Calamai confirms. The wait is not too long, as Simon the Sorcerer Origins will arrive in the first quarter of 2023: you can already now put it on your Steam Wish List.

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