Don’t Hang Up that
Leisure Suit Yet
August 1, 2008 – You’ve got to wonder if Al Lowe knew what he was getting into back in 1987. That year, his first game based on Larry Laffer – a 40s-something, balding, tongue-in-cheek dork – was published by Sierra. It fit within the company’s text-based (and later, point and click) adventure model established by games like King’s Quest. There was just one unique angle: Larry didn’t have any noble goals like saving a kingdom or princess, he just wanted to get lucky with the ladies. Eight titles later and Larry hasn’t changed much. He’s still a bumbling mess, looking for his perfect woman.
When Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude came out in 2004, it marked a serious design change for the series. Al Lowe jumped ship and instead of the title being developed in-house by Sierra, the game was made by High Voltage Software. Magna Cum Laude retained some of the series’ humor, but many felt it went too far in a perverse direction (it had a series’ first: nudity and sex scenes). It also had another sharp change – Larry Laffer wasn’t the main character; his nephew, Larry Lovage, took the reins. Lovage returns, but this time with the help of Team 17 (the developers behind the Worms franchise) for Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust.
For a game so close to release (it comes out September 17), details have been pretty scarce. The plot centers around a summer of work where Lovage helps his uncle (Larry Laffer) run a movie studio. The studio has a major problem with the tabloids and Lovage is tasked with uncovering the leaker within the company who’s spilling all the dirt.
The Leisure Suit Larry series has always been about off-the-wall scenarios and Team17 aims to keep it that way. The developer has mentioned examples from the game such as sneaking around studio lots to take pictures of celebrities, helping an adult film star find her missing clothes, and seducing studio administrators. One scenario involves someone targeting a famous actor and has Larry combing through the studios’ weapon supply – specifically machetes. All the prop machetes have been replaced with real ones and Larry has to test them all out on an expendable stunt man. Once the stunt man is dead, you’ve solved the case; good for Larry and the actor, bad for the stunt man.
With Al Lowe out of the picture, Allen Covert (who penned the video game-themed Grandma’s Boy) is taking the writing helm. There’s also an impressive voice cast lineup, with notables such as comedians Dave Attell and Jay Mohr. Those worried about the raunchiness in Magna Cum Laude (which received an uncut, AO rating edition) can rest their fears – Team 17 is aiming for an M rating. The developer realizes the game’s humor comes from Larry’s personality and the crafting of silly setups, not from simply flashing some digital T&A on the screen.
Larry was quite iconic back in the PC adventure days, but with each successive title he’s lost a little bit of his original luster. His character – a guy who’s desperate, but somehow lovable – has helped him stand the test of time a little better. There aren’t too many adventure games nowadays on the PC or consoles. Hopefully, Team 17 can pull it off and return Larry to form.