I remember playing this with my friends dad years ago when he first got a NES. My friend wouldn't play it because he said he was either too afraid of it or thought it was rubbish, I can't remember which. I remember really enjoying the game even though there came a point where the two of us got horribly stuck and could not continue, I'm guessing it was the really stupid and obtuse part where you have to kneel in front of the cliff to proceed.
Coming back to Simon's Quest after so many years was a pleasant surprise. After hearing so many negative things about it, including the AVGN's entertaining video on it, I wasn't expecting to enjoy the game as much as I did. Despite the level design feeling a bit thrown together, in comparison to Castlevania's masterful level design, it's a quite an enjoyable game. I admit that I resorted to using a FAQ to complete the game this time however finding how to progress by figuring out the nonsensical requirements would have been impossible so it's kind of necessary in the days where you can't consult magazine tips sections or ask a friend of a friend of a friend who has been rumoured to have beaten it.
Simon's Quest has some interesting ideas, such as the RPG elements and leveling system, the non-linear structure and the day/night cycle that while not entirely successful are unique for a game of its time and add depth to what is otherwise a standard platform game. There's a few disappointments, the bosses, even the final one, are a complete pushover and as mentioned the level design could have been better. However with a FAQ in hand it's a perfectly enjoyable game to play over a two day period. Even if the obtuse elements deserve all the hate and bile thrown at them, Simon's Quest is far from a bad game. In fact it's pretty good.