Larry Laffer Seems Even More Out Of Place These Days
Leisure Suit Larry is a franchise that has managed to churn out nine titles over the past 25 years, but it never really evolved past a vehicle for pornographic punch lines. When The Land of the Lounge Lizards hit the market in 1987, its 8-bit breasts and unsubtle innuendos had a kind of frat-boyish charm. But the world is 25 years older, and if nudity is what you’re after, an Internet connection will get you there faster than an adventure game’s labyrinth of puzzles. So it’s hard for me to imagine that Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded , the remake of a title that was originally built on a vague promise of pixilated nipples, could survive the trip through time. But the folks over at Replay Games, backed by a slew of Kickstarter supporters, are obviously less skeptical.
This updated edition of Larry Laffer’s original adventure has undergone a large number of major upgrades. The graphics, sound track, voice acting, and gameplay have all been completely overhauled, but the storyline itself has remained relatively untouched. Mr. Laffer, with $94 in his pocket, has come to the city of Lost Wages in search of true love. However, considering that Lost Wages is a fictionalized version of Las Vegas, a notoriously loveless town, it’s going to be a difficult road. But, In lieu of true love, Laffer will jump into bed with anyone who will have him and gamble until his pockets are filled with nothing but unused condoms and regret.
The only major update to the game’s plot is a new love interest that shows up near the end of the storyline. She never really feels like an actual love interest, though. She’s more like a particularly boring side quest.
The title’s graphics are as pristine as can probably be expected from a game that’s ostensibly about watching cartoon characters get naked. Larry’s ass is shinier than I’ve ever seen it, and the carpet stains have a tinge of disturbing authenticity. The animations, though, are of surprisingly low quality. Don’t get me wrong, there are a handful of animations that look great, but anytime one of the characters breaks from his or her prescribed routine, graphical laziness ensues. N-Fusion Interactive, the developer behind the title, often tries to disguise these moments with hilarious sound effects.
They’re less than hilarious, though.
Aside from the graphics, the game’s interface probably received the biggest upgrade in Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded . Anyone who’s old enough to remember the original title probably also remembers a lot of typing. Adventure games in the 1980s required a small amount of spelling expertise and a few lessons from Mavis Beacon. But this has been supplanted by a much more modern adventure game interface. All of the original text commands have been tossed and replaced with point-and-click alternatives. So, instead of typing, “look at woman’s chest,” you simply click on her breasts.
It’s very streamlined.
The puzzles themselves have also received a pretty substantial update, but they’re still rooted in their original formulas. Many of the puzzle-chains are longer, but, surprisingly, they’re also a bit more logical. Completing The Land of the Lounge Lizards required a fair amount of persistence and/or luck, but Reloaded has a much more linear thought process.
Actually, as I played through the game, I started to wonder how many of these changes were made to indulge the hardcore Leisure Suit Larry fanbase. (Does such a thing actually exist?) It’s not as though the original puzzle chains have been completely reworked, although some have been given a pretty significant overhaul; they’ve simply been extended in some way.
However, the thing that I noticed most about Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded was how strange it felt to be playing the title again. We live in a post-Grand Theft Auto universe, and the adolescent stylings of Leisure Suit Larry don’t push as many boundaries as they once did.
At some point, it feels like the game becomes a particularly contemptuous parody of itself. I mean, in 1987, Larry Laffer was a 40-something loser whose wardrobe and lack of tact proved that he had lost touch with the decade that he was living in. And now, 25 years later, Replay Games is releasing a title whose entire theme and sense of humor is so dated that its audience may not even exist anymore.
Plus, there are little things that make the entire experience feel clumsy. The animations, like I said, are often pretty awkward, but it’s obvious that the development had a few additional stutter steps along the way. During the Kickstarter campaign, for example, one of the pledge packages included the opportunity to be featured as a character in the Lost Wages disco. These characters are so painfully out of place that they almost feel like someone simply pasted them into the game after the whole thing was complete.
I’m not saying that the game is a lost cause; it does have a few enjoyable moments, and N-Fusion did an amazing job bringing Leisure Suit Larry into the modern era. But the original title was definitely a product of its time, and that was 25 years ago.
I’m just not convinced that the world needs Larry Laffer anymore. We’ve retired VHS tapes and Teddy Ruxpin. Would anyone, aside from Al Lowe, even notice if Leisure Suit Larry was next?
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.5 Graphics
Sometimes passable. Sometimes not. 3.0 Control
More immersive than the original text-based interface, but still not up to speed with modern titles 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Austin Wintory, is a Grammy-nominated composer. I’m not sure how they tricked him into scoring a Leisure Suit Larry title. 2.0 Play Value
Unimpressive and out of place in today’s market. 2.8 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best