Posted by: Sigea 19 April 2017
The original 40-year-old virgin is back with a new graphics overhaul. Leisure Suit Larry is ready to let loose on a whole new list of ladies.
The Leisure Suit Larry franchise is a long series of games. The first three games, which we have previously reviewed, are encouraged reading. There will be a few call backs and references to the previous review as the series does tend to build off what it has previously created.
To fully understand the changes to the game from the previous entries, a little history is needed about the engine. In 1990 Sierra On-Line created a new engine to replace the text parser input that it had used previously in their adventure games. They called this new engine the SCI1 (Sierra Creative Interpreter version 1). In this engine the text commands were replaced with icons to instruct your avatar to interact with the objects in the game. Since mice on computers were now relatively common for PCs, interaction would be done through a mouse click. Doing so would make your character walk, look at, or use an inventory item. A second thing this engine changed was the color display. The previous engine, SCI0, could only display 16 colors. SCI1 could display 256 colors, which drastically changed how backgrounds and characters would be rendered.
In 1991 Sierra On-line remade Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards using the SCI1 engine. The story remained the same, but there were a few minor changes to the game. Most notable among them were the changes to the character portraits. The prostitute and Eve had a slight change to their skin tone.
Overall, quite an improvement.
The most notable change from the original, as seen in the comparison shot, is the art. The game now has a comical art style to match the ridiculous story. What used to be colored blocks are now fully stylized people. The sprite animations have been completely redone, Larry’s walk cycle has more frames, and the disco dance scene is now more like an actual dance. The character portraits are the biggest change. The originals were good for the time, but pixely by today’s standards. The portraits are fully redrawn each of them having their own facial animations to boot.
As is the case with remakes and remasters, the gameplay will change from the original. As stated previously, text commands have been replaced with icons to do actions. Instead of typing “look at graffiti” repeatedly in the bathroom, you now use the examine/eye icon on the walls a few times. Also, in the original you would sit down at a blackjack table and play against a dealer. In the remake, the table is replaced with a video poker machine. In addition, another gameplay feature that has changed is the quiz that happens before the game. The questions have been updated for 18-year-olds from 1991, yet by today’s standard are still outdated. There is a full list of questions and answers for them available on Al Lowe’s website.
Lastly, the music had a complete overhaul. In the 1987 original there were only a few moments with music. There was the title screen, an excerpt from “The Near Future” from Irving Berlin (more widely known as “how dry I am”) for when visiting a drunkard laying in the hall, and chase music for when a thug is looking to rob and kill Larry. Now, most areas have accompanying music including a voice sample for an especially embarrassing scene.
This applies to everyone reading this review as well.
The sex scenes are still comically censored, but with the change in art, there’s more cleavage and partial nudity to be seen. Paintings of breasts are abundant throughout the game. If none of that tickles your fancy, there is a certain button that when pressed gives a nice view of a character’s nipples.
Now it comes time to address the elephant in the room, and that is Leisure Suit Larry 4: The Case of the Missing Floppies. To get straight to the point, there is no video game of that name ever published. At the end of LSL3, Larry and Patti retreat into the mountains to write about his adventures in the form of a computer game for Sierra On-Line. Nobody, except for Al Lowe, knows what happened to them before the events of LSL5. The events of LSL4 are discussed in the following game, but only in passing.
LSL4 was intended as a joke to new players who end up more confused when they have to jump from 3-5. There are a few internal documents that threw around the idea of creating a multiplayer Larry game. It would have used Sierra’s new online service called The Sierra Network. This ended up being scrapped due to technical problems. Mr. Lowe felt that Leisure Suit Larry 3 tied up the series well, so there was no need for a 4th game.
After the events of “Leisure Suit Larry 4,” Larry and Patti end up separated from one another. Larry finds work cleaning video tapes for a pornography company, while Patti returns to playing piano. Amnesia has conveniently struck Larry, wiping all the events of LSL4 from his mind. Through sheer imbecility he ends up with the job of filming the nominees for “America’s Sluttiest Home Videos.” Conversely, Patti ends up working for the FBI to uncover corruption in the music industry. This begins the story of Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work.
Larry will take off to New York’s “Hard Disk Cafe,” a Miami dentist’s office, and Atlanta’s “Tramp Casino.” Patti will head off to investigate two different music studios. Finally the two of them will cross paths at Washington DC.
The appearance for this game is much like the LSL1 remake. Larry is extremely cartoony once again, and he has even greater exaggerated expressions compared to previous games. The animations have improved since the remake. Characters move much more fluid and life-like. Unfortunately, the character art had a step in the wrong direction. The change from realistic and back to cartoony felt too sudden considering the games being only the one year apart.
Using the same engine as the remake of the first game, LSL5 plays almost exactly the same. One of the differences is that this game does away with deaths and soft locks. Meaning the only way to fail the game is to not play it. The main plot of the game is that Larry is to film himself having sex with the girls. Even if he forgets to film them, the game will progress as normal. There is no penalty to you for neglecting something, unless you care about your final score. Secondly, the game is extremely linear. The only choices the player has are where to go to further the story — the order in which these scenarios are done does not matter.
The character control will alternate between Larry and Patti, as it did in LSL3. After completing one segment of the story as one character, they will doze off. This gives the other character a chance to be playable without creating a jarring change in perspective. The segments are evenly split, however once again Patti appears to get shafted. Her segments feel shorter than Larry’s and end up feeling unimportant to the story, since you are told of Larry’s storyline first.
The vocal samples and the music improved. The first thing you end up hearing in game, apart from the music, is your boss screaming for coffee. This was a feeling not wholly unfamiliar to me. Approximately ten minutes after starting the game you enter a room with the entire music soundtrack for listening. It feels a little early to give the player access to all the game’s music, but the developers were sure of the quality of the compositions so they put it in early. The reason they were sure of the quality is because they hired Craig Safan to do the composition and music — Craig is most well known for his work on the music in Cheers and The Last Starfighter.
Breasts and adult innuendo start right off the bat in the game’s introduction. Since Larry works in the porn industry, to not expect nudity is laughable. Sadly, much of the bare breasts are still pixely, but they occur much more often. In Larry’s campaign the lewd content is much more suggestive. Patti on the other hand has to undresses for a shower, get a gyno exam, and has to fend off a rather “hands on” limo chauffeur. Living as a female is quite a bit harder it seems. The supplemental material for the game, a magazine called “Playspy,” contains a few cheesecake quality pinups for display. Most prominent among them is Patti’s picture, which displays her and exactly what she’s packing.
Seems Larry and I share common tastes in women.
Here is where the series takes a continuity turn. Leisure Suit Larry 1-5 are all sequential, and builds off the previous games. Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape up or Slip Out seems to exist in its own timeline. At the end of LSL5 Larry and Patti find each other again and vow never to separate again. The question that arises from this is, “What happened to Larry and Patti in Leisure Suit Larry 6?” The answer is actually quite simple. In multiple interviews Al Lowe has stated he felt that Patti’s story was done. There was nothing more to add to it. The “Patti Saga” ends with Leisure Suit Larry 5. This is why LSL6 feels out of place with the rest of the series. It was written as a stand-alone story.
Leisure Suit Larry 6 starts out with Larry on a muscle beach surrounded by men who are obviously much more attractive than him. A comically long limousine pulls up and out steps an attractive casting director announcing she is looking for a man to be a contestant on Stallions, a dating contest type of show. Larry ends up being the one selected for the show and, through sheer dumb luck, ends up winning an all expense paid trip to the health spa La Costa Lotta. Since Larry is going to be surrounded by sexy women at a spa, why not enjoy them?
As with the remake of LSL1, Shape up or Slip Out introduces a new SCI engine. SCI2 changes the resolution support to 640×480 SVGA graphics. In addition, the Windows operating system was now common for most PCs. As a result, they released a special Windows version on CD a year after the initial release. With the extra space on the CD, they added voices for all the characters.
The SCI2 engine plays very similar to the previous SCI1 engine. With the exception of the always visible inventory and character action bar. There is an additional action button for the player to make Larry do, which is a zipper icon. I’ll leave it to your imagination what exactly that does. Compared to the lack of any fail states Leisure Suit Larry 5 had, Shape up or Slip Out brings them back, but with a slight change. The fail states are now the result of a single immediate action the player makes. The failure screen gives the player an undo option to resume playing without forcing a restoration of a previous game save. This makes playing the game easier without holding the player’s hand.
With the exception of a few scenes, there’s a more realistic style to LSL6 than the previous installment. Larry himself feels like a cartoon character who stepped into the world of reality. Because of his cartoony style, he is able to survive situations that would otherwise kill a normal man. As a result of the realistic looking women, many of them, in my opinion, look attractive. Personally, I leaned toward the butch and the dominatrix types.
I wonder what she’s into…
The attractiveness of women in Leisure Suit Larry 6 now has two factors, art and voice. All the characters in LSL6, including the narrator, are fully voiced. This includes the random voices Larry hears when he knocks on random doors. Larry’s voice is perfect for him. Jan Rabson, also known as Stanley Gurd Jr., did a great job. You can hear the dweeby-ness ooze out of his performance. The best part of finally being able to hear his voice is groan you will produce when hearing his horrible one-liners.
It is worth pointing out here, that there is far more male nudity than female nudity in this game. The game takes jabs at the player for trying to see more than it allows. You can trace your name in Char’s mud-covered body, but you won’t be able to see it. The player can see into the female’s changing room for the shower, but poor Larry does not have X-ray vision, so there is no interaction he can do for that. Though, there still is some nudity to be had for Larry to enjoy.
She reminds me a little of Kira Nerys…
In the end, once again, Larry believes he has found love and there is no longer any need to continue his “quest.” It is seriously doubtful if Larry will actually succeed at this, since the player knows Larry is doomed to fail. Unfortunately, Shape up or Slip Out marks the end of the Leisure Suit Larry Collection. The games are available on GOG.com along with the Leisure Suit Larry Trilogy for $9.99.
I’ll leave you all with one final image to sum up the Leisure Suit Larry series; Al Lowe’s slogan:
Brings a tear to your eye.
-Great addition to the series -Art direction wildly varies
-Good character art
-Music and voice finally in game
-Little to no replay value
Art And Graphics
-Great addition to the series
-Art direction wildly varies