Posted by: Sigea 14 March 2017
Take out those white polyester suits and gold medallions, it’s time for a trip back in time and a comprehensive look at the Leisure Suit Larry trilogy of games.
In this article I’ll be taking a look at the original Leisure Suit Larry trilogy. This covers all of the “text parser” games of the series; Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places), and Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals. There are subsequent games after these three and we have previously taken a look at one of them.
To understand how Leisure Suit Larry got its start, let’s take a trip back to 1987. The USSR was in its decline. Disco was on its last legs, if not already dead. Ronald Reagan challenged Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. The Nintendo Entertainment System was still in its infancy and computers were just starting to be made for retail to the public. Monitors for them were still in EGA 16 color. Sound cards were still a few years off. During that time Sierra On-Line released Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. The following year it won “Best Adventure or Fantasy/Role Playing Game” from the Software Publisher’s Association (later renamed to the SIIA CODiE awards).
Leisure Suit Larry is, at its core, not a game about getting laid, but instead about finding love. You play as Larry Laffer, a 38-year-old virgin that was still living with his mother until he realized his life was passing him by. Taking a few cues from Saturday Night Fever, he puts on a white polyester suit and some elevator shoes to live the life he’s only dreamed of in the town of Lost Wages. His goal is not only to lose his virginity, but also to find love. Over the course of the game you’ll meet various women and through your skills, or sheer, dumb luck, woo them into the bedroom for some fun times.
Hopefully you used a condom.
To get the most out of the series, the best place to begin is with the first game — Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. The game begins with a quiz to identify you are over the age of 18. You have to choose the correct answer from a series of multiple choice questions. While this was good for its time, the questions have aged along with the game. Although a few of the questions are still simple to know if you are over 18, there are a few that a current 18-year-old adult may not know such as “Charlie McArthy and Edgar Bergen.” To combat this all the answers are available on Al Lowe’s (the creator of the Leisure Suit Larry series) personal website. After finishing the questions you are dropped into the game.
For those not familiar with Sierra adventure games, game overs are a very common occurrence. It is used as a learning tool for the player to not make the same mistake twice. If you get arrested for walking outside with a condom on, or taking some Spanish fly and end up committing an act of bestiality, you get a game over screen explaining what you did wrong. It then prompts you to restore a previous saved game, restart the entire game, or quit. The hope is that you saved the game so you can restore to an earlier state and know not to do the same action again. This time you might give that Spanish fly to a cute girl in hopes of getting lucky, or remove a condom after having sex. It may sound redundant to do these actions, but learning through trial and error is what early adventure games tried to create. As the manual states, “It pays to use protection.”
When it comes to the gameplay for the first game, it is very basic. Learning what to do, however, is not. You use the arrows to move Larry left, right, up, or down and type commands to initiate actions such as “Open door,” “Hail taxi,” “Masturbate,” etc. Not all verbs and nouns are in the game’s library of words, so it often pays to use simple commands. One of the key points, of adventure games in general, is to look at everything. If it stands out in a room, it’s probably there for a reason. For some puzzles you will actually need to try a command multiple times. A general rule of thumb is to try an action repeatedly until the text that appears is the same. An example would be looking at the writing on a bathroom wall. Each time you type the command Larry will look at a different scribbling on the wall.
Although the game is intended for adults, it’s because of adult content, not nudity. The sex scenes are censored by a black bar or the game will fade to black. The situations revolving around those events, such as buying a condom, or delivering wine to a girl (who has sex with the delivery boy), is the reason why the game is intended for adults. There is some pixelated nudity, but it’s a small amount.
After finding his love Eve, in Land of the Lounge Lizards, he goes home to find that this love was nothing more than a one-night stand. He gets kicked out of her house and goes off on a search for a new love of his life. Here is where Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places) begins. During your new search for love, you’ll go from mowing a lawn, to winning a cruise, to evading KGB agents, then all the way to foiling an evil villain’s plan for world domination.
Yes. Yes, I do, voice in my head.
That’s quite a leap to believe. Let’s try to ground it and give the story a little more credence. After getting kicked out, Larry ends up on both a dating show and a lottery show. Through sheer dumb luck, he wins the grand prize on both. On the trip he maroons himself on an island in an attempt to avoid KGB agents. Then, through a comedy of errors storyline, Larry ends up trying to save an entire village because he wants to marry a topless native girl who is the island chief’s daughter.
This game starts off with some copy protection. You’re greeted with a picture of a lady from your “black book” (game manual) and are asked to provide that woman’s phone number. With the dawn of digital era those manuals are readily available online. To make things easier Al Lowe has put all the manuals up on his website to use. These manuals are not only useful for the second game, but all the following games.
The graphics have stepped up since the last game. It now uses the SCI0 (Sierra Creative Interpreter) engine. This bumped the resolution for images to 320×200 and now has support for general MIDI music. The sound support is rarely used outside the title screen and the riff that plays when you score points. This was due to the technology for sound cards at the time being expensive. Instead of limiting sales by requiring them, it was optional and was there as a bonus.
One of the two added features in this game is the option to choose the level of “filth” in the game. This makes the game more lewd and crude or makes the game cleaner for younger audiences. This raises a question; who would even play the game on the clean setting considering what this game is about in the first place? The second feature added is the option to have NPCs use a trite phrase. Various NPCs will repeat this phrase throughout the game which can lend itself for some rather snarky dialogue.
Looks like everyone has them nowadays.
The gameplay this time doesn’t pull punches. There are quite a lot of game over scenarios. Many of which most players won’t know are coming until you are 80% of the way through your game. A single item you neglected to pick up a at the start of the game is needed to progress. Well, that’s a damn shame. Restore or restart back, and don’t do it again. What makes these deaths more infuriating is that before even giving you the chance to restore or restart, the game prompts you to buy a hint-book offering a (now defunct) Sierra order hotline. Once again Al Lowe comes to the rescue as the hint books are available for free from his site. There is a fine line between silly puzzle solutions and just flat out infuriating solutions created in order to sell hint books. This game is sadly littered with the latter.
As with the first Leisure Suit Larry, learning how to word a phrase exactly is very important. In Leisure Suit Larry 2, that is taken up a level. Specifically, the ending finale where two items need to be added together to create an improvised Molotov cocktail. Only one way of typing it will result in the correct solution while anything else will result in a game over. This problem is a result of the game code bug. Typing out “Put bag in bottle” wrongly misinterprets bag as a verb. The solution to this is to add “the” to “bag” and “bottle.” This bug was caught late and copies of the game had already shipped before it could be fixed.
Another example of the bothersome gameplay here would be the time limit on certain puzzles. After winning a one million dollar prize and a trip on a cruise line, you have a time limit before the cruise ship leaves without you and are left retrying the same steps. Once you arrive in your cabin on the ship, it then happens a second time. This is more noticeable in the ship section as there is no indication you have to escape until you are already at an unwinnable state.
The adult content in the second game isn’t as raunchy as the previous title. Once again, there still is pixelated nudity, mostly the native island girls and in the barber shops. In Land of the Lounge Lizards, Larry would hit on any woman that even had a pulse, and do anything to sleep with them. Quite the opposite here in the second game. Many game over scenarios are because of Larry trying to follow those women or have sex. The game seems to try discourage your attempts get laid. The only time Larry gets lucky is at the end of the game.
Yep, she’s a keeper.
In the end, Larry does save the tropical island. He consummates the marriage to the chief’s daughter. Sadly this is not the life Larry had hoped for. The two of them begin to fall apart. The once-pristine tropical paradise of Nontoonyt Island has become overrun with casinos and hotels. Since the island makes itself money now, they forget about their savior, Larry Laffer. His wife leaves him for an Amazonian, Harley-riding, former-cannibal, lesbian, slot-machine repair woman. He is then fired from his job working with the chief. Larry is alone, fat, and penniless. What could he possibly go do now? The answer is to find a new love and have sex with as many women as possible in the process.
Swearing off his tropical outfit, he dons his leisure suit once again — hopefully for the final time — in Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals. He knows he has to get some money, lose that fat belly, and find the girl of his dreams. Through the course of the game he’ll meet up with Passionate Patti. Sadly due to a bedroom faux pas, Larry becomes distraught and leaves her to walk off into the endless, uncharted jungle. Patti reaches for Larry and finds herself all alone. Despite Larry being a total loser, she fell in love with him and sets off to find him and to learn why he left.
This game, like the first game, starts off with a quiz to see how old you are. Unlike the first through, the game will continue even if you fail the quiz. This time the quiz determines how “lewd” the game will be. Some content may be a little more shaded or hidden based on the number of correct answers. Once again, answers are available from Al Lowe’s website.
Your view depends on your quiz score.
Gameplay is exactly the same as Leisure Suit Larry 2. The difference is that this time the puzzles aren’t nearly as infuriating. The death scenes are fewer, but the “forget an item and you wont know till way later” deaths are still the same. There is another difference in gameplay this time around with the “copy protection” the game has in place. An example would be your innate knowledge of how to weave a grass skirt or make a lei. The information is in the manual, so Larry would know how to do those actions. The same goes for looking up ticket numbers to get into a show. Just because something isn’t in your inventory, doesn’t mean you don’t have it.
It’s also important to note there are two playable characters now. As with the previous games, in the beginning, you play as Larry Laffer. As the game progresses, you will switch characters to Passionate Patti. Patti plays the exact same as Larry, the only difference is that she’s female. This may not seem like a very large difference, but in a game where sex and adult content run rampant, it does. Let’s face the facts, a maître d’ may not be interested in a blowjob from a guy for a free pass because he’s not gay. However, if a woman offered it to him, he may just accept.
Leisure Suit Larry 3 shines in its music. The game now fully utilizes the sound card, and they put it to good use. Al Lowe’s background in music and Mike Dana’s music composition make the game feel that much more complete. Not just the introduction or point scoring, each scene has a score to accompany it. All the music fits with the scenes. Granted they’re just MIDI boops, but coming from nothing, that is an accomplishment to be proud of.
Once again, Larry here is crude and not so much lewd. Most of the jokes are rather intended to be tasteless and appeal to people who enjoy such things. One blatant example is at the comedy club. As you sit down you are greeted with the comedian asking you (the player) to type in three different ethnic groups. The comedian will then proceed to do a few joke routines about the groups you called out to him.
I found this one oddly accurate.
That’s not to say there isn’t any lewdness in the third game. Unlike the previous two games, this game was intended for both a male and female audience. There are a fair amount of tits in the game, but there is more full-frontal male nudity than female. Larry will walk around naked in gym and there is even a “glass bottom boat” style view for the male shower room. There is a male strip club available to enter and view at your pleasure to enjoy a nice grind show from one of the owners. If you’re actually enjoying the Tom Selleck look-a-like you can throw your panties at him while he’s on stage.
Patti and Larry are reunited and end up using a little “magic” to break the fourth wall. They end up meeting Roberta Williams who offers them a job writing adventure games for Sierra. Yeah, it’s best not to ask questions here. The two of them retire to a little cottage to spend the rest of their lives together. That concludes the Leisure Suit Larry trilogy. What will happen in the future for Larry? Will he remain with Patti? All of that remains to be seen.
Leisure Suit Larry trilogy (bundled with other parts of the series) is available to buy on GOG.com for $9.99.
-Sometimes absurd puzzle solutions
|Art And Graphics|