Admittedly, the Leisure Suit Larry games are for adults, well maybe not all adults, maybe those that find the humor in every National Lampoon movie to be the best comedy material out there. That’s probably the demographic for the Larry games. Well, that and those who like sexual innuendos thrown all over their games. It’s those elements that have made the Larry games both a cult favorite and one of the most hated game franchises around. It’s quite an achievement.
In this new version of the same formula, we find Larry Lovage, the main character from the Magna Cum Laude title. Larry is taking a job at his uncle Larry’s, the original Leisure Suit Larry, movie studio. While Larry is doing odd jobs around the studio, he eventually discovers a plot by a rival studio to take over Laffer Studios. Oh yeah, and another point to the story, like all other Larry games, is to see if Larry will finally “get” the girl. Unfortunately, there’s not much more holding it together to keep you in the game.
Box Office Bust piggybacks on the idea that people want Grand Theft Auto in everything. This is one of those cases where the aspect of GTA’s sandbox world should have been left out. Laffer Studio is huge. So huge that you will be hopping into golf carts at every turn in order to make it to your destination, unless you like traveling by foot and watching Larry perform his best Dopey performance. You’ll even be able to highjack a golf cart from someone else, except it’s not really high-jacking from them, since they will just slide over and let you drive. I guess they couldn’t completely commit to the GTA mentality.
The odd jobs I mentioned earlier range from everything you could think of. You start out scrubbing graffiti off billboards, working your way to various other studio jobs. Most of the jobs that you will perform revolve around driving and delivering, or using solitary buttons to achieve the end goal. Some of the jobs will even give you a timer. Ah, the timer, an infamous attachment to meaningless missions in games that either gives you too much time or not enough. In Box Office Bust, you get it both ways. If you run out of time, the game doesn’t allow you to restart at a checkpoint, ala GTA IV. Instead, it falls victim to the old way of making you restart at the beginning of the mission. There’s one other GTA rip-off I found in the game and then I swear I will leave it alone. You can also have studio security chase you. A little siren flashes atop your radar, and you’d better get away quick because there’s nothing worse than being thrown into a studio jail. Now this isn’t a mini-game where you have to outwit “Bubba” or anything, you just have to restart the missions from the beginning. In most cases, I think the first option would have been better than the latter.
There are a couple of redeeming factors no matter how small they are. One is the Director’s mode. I really enjoyed this side of the game. You film a scene and you get to switch the camera angles for the optimum shoot. However, the praise stops in the description. It is so easy to pick between the camera angles and obtain the correct points that even if you have no artistic talent behind the camera, you will still succeed. The other thing I enjoyed was the movie genre sequences. Ranging from western to horror, Larry will enter into a daydream sequence and act out the role, giving you platforming, shooting, and beat ‘em up gameplay. These sequences are probably the closest thing I found to the mini-game mentality of the previous titles, except you won’t find a trampoline, a bar to play quarters in, dancing, or any of the other old favorites that fans have come to expect. Instead, you will find shuffleboard. That’s right; shuffleboard. How does that even rank with quarters?
Aside from the gameplay that will usually leave you more frustrated than a Saturday night alone, the graphics will leave you wanting more. I understand the necessity of having the playful imagery of the characters; it is part of the humor. However, where does it say that everyone has to look like they have been run through the cheese grater at least once? The bulbous noses on the characters will also throw you for a loop, appearing like they are a separate entity all together.
The girls even look bad. Usually they are the redeeming quality, but there’s at least one girl that has whale lips bigger than Angelina Jolie’s 757 flaps. Too often I was wondering if they were trying to get Larry to do away with women when looking at the beastly Sasquatch brides. Aside from the character models, the environments are rather bland and stale. Whether this a direct result of framerate issues or the constant screen-tearing.
I could normally forgive the lackluster gameplay in a game if the concept and acting makes me laugh. I really had hopes of sitting down and at least enjoying the sophomoric humor. Unfortunately, the laughs weren’t there. Maybe once or twice I found myself chuckling deep down inside. Then again, maybe I just had gas. Penned by Allen Covert of Happy Madison Productions, the story and jokes fall flatter than Rob Schnieder’s career. The main problem is the jokes could have been funnier if the actors at least seemed like they cared enough about them to tell them right. Patrick Warburton, Carmen Electra, Jay Mohr, Jeffery Tambor, and even Dave Attell can be really funny people. Too often I felt like they were forced to read the material.
The musical score was another thing that destroyed my eardrums. In some cases, the music was this constant, repetitive, ho-hum, upbeat bull. It was always the same background music and if it wasn’t exactly the same, it sounded too much like it to be classified as something else. However, there were a few instances where the background music just didn’t play and those were complete moments of bliss in the game. Too bad I actually had an objective to do, which usually causes the music to start playing again.
The worst offense Box Office Bust makes is giving Larry something resembling a plot other than trying to get in the pants of the opposite sex. Instead of the simplest plots devices, we get a convoluted story with weak gameplay that never truly delivers on the funny. It’s sad to say that this game would have benefited from either having the people behind the last National Lampoon movie help or a little bit of nudity, but looking at the character models, thank God there’s no nudity in the game. Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust should never be played, it should be used as a paperweight.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 1.1 Graphics
While the initial animations are ok, the constant screen-tearing, framerate issues, and truly ugly characters make the game hard to look at. 1.3 Control
Initially, you won’t notice the faults, but after a short period of time, you’ll be cursing the fact you are trying to control Larry in different modes. 1.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
With a cast of Hollywood voice talent, you’d think it would be better, but the over-the-top and pointless sex jokes restrain some of the comedic talent from being funny. 1.2 Play Value
There’s a lot to do in the game, but you will have to force yourself to get through it like a blind date. 1.0 Overall Rating – Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.