Publisher: Replay Studios
Developer: N-Fusion Interactive
ESRB: RP (but likely M)
First, I honestly tried my best to avoid double entendres, puns, and innuendo throughout this review and for the most part I did. My plan was to play it straight (no pun intended), but it was actually a lot harder than I thought (holy hell.)
Leisure Suit Larry is one of those franchises that seems to have always been around in one form or another on one platform or another. What makes it an odd case study is that it has always blatantly made fun of the over-the-top nerd stereotype and yet has always been successful within the same community. The best example of this can be seen in it’s latest incarnation, Leisure Suit Larry In the Land of the Lounge Lizards Reloaded, as it is the second remake of the original title (which was released by Sierra back in ‘87). And get this; not only was Reloaded entirely crowd funded but Replay (the developer) surpassed their $500k kickstarter goal by an additional ~$150k! So needless to say, people didn’t just want another remake of LSL, they wanted it bad…
Isn't it unusual that such a sordid title could gain such traction? Don't get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’m just curious… I mean, the gamers who’ve grown up with the franchise have to be at least 25 years old now and Larry, with his boob-comedy antics, is clearly geared to 12-15 year old adolescents (even that’s being generous). And yet, while I was playing, I couldn’t help but be engaged by the sex-motivated puzzles. As low-brow as the game is, it’s also surprisingly entertaining. Plus so much time has passed since I had played a Larry game that I actually forgot how intricate the puzzles can be (even though they almost always require you to do something heinous… like figure out how to turn on porno to distract a pimp.)
Reloaded is the same as the original but with better graphics/animation and with fully voice-acted dialogue and narration. The additional money that Replay got from their crowdfunding campaign went into creating more ladies to hit on (the original only had a few — three or four — this one has half a dozen) and a couple more hoops for Larry to jump through. The game was never that big to begin with so Replay did their best to make it longer (it’d take more effort to avoid the puns at this point.)
The story is a simple one. Larry Laffer is a ~40 year old virgin who takes a trip to the seedy city of Lost Wages (picture a Detroit version of Vegas) in an attempt to ‘find true love’. The problem is Larry is completely inept and out of touch. Even back in the late 80s when the game came out, a leisure suit like the one Larry wears was already a long-dead 70s fad… Think about someone wearing goth attire or popped-collars today (or if you’re ~30+, imagine someone wearing fluorescent/neon fleece jackets or hypercolor t-shirts); unless they’re doing it as a joke, you’d probably shake your head at them (there is no reviving those fads because they were never cool to begin with).
So the mission of ‘getting laid’ is made more difficult by Larry’s lack of social skills and, much to the game’s humour, complete lack of shame. A lot of the entertainment value is garnered from the one-liners, quibbles, easter eggs, and blatant disregard for decency by any and all of the wacky characters you interact with. The game actions are also fully narrated, which makes for some pretty funny moments as well. In fact, because of the game’s brevity, if you blitz through it (which can be done in a couple of hours) you’ll miss out on what makes it so fun/funny. You don't lose anything when you die either, so you’ll get the most out of the game if you talk to as many characters as possible and thoroughly explore the different areas.
At it’s heart, it’s a point and click adventure game. You have six basic controls — walking, using/interacting, looking, talking, licking, and undressing. You also have an inventory of items that can help you figure out what to do next (pro-tip: examine everything you pick up) or be given as gifts to ladies. For example, a magazine might have information on how to break into a fire escape, which is knowledge that may come in handy later on. Inventory mainstays include Larry’s wallet and breath spray, which is necessary because Larry suffers from halitosis. You essentially have to use it before conversing with anyone or risk scaring them off prematurely.
Being that the game is mainly about gathering items needed to woo ladies, one of the most important aspects is money. The only way to increase your funds is to gamble, and fortunately the various slots and casino games are fairly easy to navigate (and win!), but you may need to do a little save-swapping to build up some real cash. Once you have enough dough you can really live it up in the game world; buying drinks, buying items from the corner store, getting a hotel room, paying for taxi rides, etc. For such a simple premise, it’s actually a pretty well rounded adventure, albeit a quick one.
The only truly frustrating aspects of the game are actually carry overs from the original title, which is odd, since I had expected Replay to fix what was broken. Finding items often doesn't trigger until it's needed in the story arc, which is very annoying. Whenever I got stuck, I'd honestly just recheck my inventory or go back to places I'd already been, which would, without fail, reveal new items needed to progress. In that respect, as long as you anticipate having to retrace your steps, you'll get along just fine. Besides, the game world is small, so it's not like it takes all that long to get from one place to another.
Leisure Suit Larry is one of the most infamous videogames and videogame characters of all time. That’s a pretty big accolade for such a trashy title. And yet there is something charming (nostalgic?) about Reloaded. Obviously if you played it as a kid, when you replay it now you’ll likely find even more humor since you can fully understand it’s innuendo and obscure references. Plus, it’s always fun to go back to a genre that has been seriously lacking the past couple decades (the point-n-click adventurer, not the softcore-sleazeball genre). And at $20 it’s worth the trip down mammary lane…
…Okay, that one was uncalled for. I sincerely apologize…