Gaming Made Me: Leisure Suit Larry 1

By Richard Cobbett on February 26th, 2011 at 6:00 pm.

Do doop de doopie-doop doo doo, doop doopie-doop doo...
We continue our Gaming Made Me series with a quick visit to the brain of Richard Cobbett, who might just have been exposed to an excessive amount of point ‘n’ click as a youngster. Let’s see what he has to say…

Yes, that Larry. No, not because of that. Or that. Maybe a little of that. But definitely none of that. When I first played this game, I was far too young to really care what it was about, or to get most of the jokes. The only reason I even had a copy in the first place was that a friend’s father had a pirated version of it that he used as an ice-breaker on boring management training courses – to get technically inexperienced office people more comfortable using the scary glowing machine from the future, before teaching them how to make project management flow-charts.

For me though, it was something to play on my PC that wasn’t Bouncing Babies or Flightmare or one of the other dreadful games I had courtesy of a box of floppy disks with suspiciously hand-written labels. Not having a ‘real’ copy, I neither knew what the point of the game was, nor did I care. I didn’t know what a leisure suit was, what a lounge lizard was meant to be, or why there was a fat man blocking the stairs to some smelly girl‘s bedroom in some seedy run-down bar. In my defence, she actually does turn out to have cooties… if by cooties, you mean an STD that literally makes Larry’s penis explode if he sleeps with her without a condom.

This is about as graphic as sex ever got in the Larry games... with the exception of one very, very poorly judged bit in Larry 7

As far as I was concerned though, the game wasn’t about sex, whatever that was meant to be, but just about this guy in town, doing stuff. Larry was one of the first adventures I remember playing that used the real world as its playground, and more importantly, which encouraged experimentation. (Let’s just assume the double-entendres are noted from this point on, okay?) It wasn’t just that it used a text parser for controlling the game, but that you could generally see at a glance what things were and had a good idea of what they were meant to do. Buy a drink at the bar. Use the jukebox. Watch a comedy show. Bang a hooker. Kiss a girl. The relatable setting made it a much more interesting game to explore than any of the random fantasy dreck over in King’s Quest CXVII: Boring Is The Head That Wears The Crown.

The moment that really stands out for me was realising that you could call a cab. It seems simple, but up to that point, I’d figured the whole game took place in the bar where you start. If you go left or right, you’re beaten up and killed by a thug. If you try to cross the street, a car will always run you over. Every time I played it, I just went into the bar and ambled around a bit, just typing things into the parser and seeing what happened. Realising that there was a whole world out there was simply… incredible. “Where to?” demanded the cabbie. “I DON’T KNOW!” I replied, before spending the evening trying to think of all the possible places this seedy magic carpet of filth and depravity might be able to take me. I later found that you could just ask him for a list. I’m glad I didn’t. In that form, Larry is a very small game. BAR. CASINO. SHOP. CHAPEL. DISCO. In my head, it was huge – a whole city! – because I’d discovered them myself. I was the Christopher Columbus of slightly porny graphic adventure games.

(Larry 2 on the other hand, Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places, is genuinely an epic – and one of the most insane sequels I’ve ever played. Amongst other things, it sends you onto a TV dating show, lets you cheat to win the lottery, involves taking a cruise on which the KGB is trying to kill you, drops you off on two different tropical islands, has you mistaken for a Russian spy, features a joke where Larry has to prove his worthiness to marry a beautiful native girl by showing her father that he knows how to program in assembly language, and ends when you blow up a supervillain’s volcano lair using a molotov cocktail made out of an air-sick bag and hair products. Every single word of that is true, and none of it is out of context.)

Everybody do the Laffer!

That feeling of discovery was what I loved about the first Larry game. The interaction density wasn’t incredible by the standards of the time, but it was pretty damn good, with lots of hidden stuff. My favourite thing was collecting the deaths. Sierra Sudden Death Syndrome was in full effect – its adventures didn’t simply punish you for making mistakes, but actively sought out ways to kill you. Just check out this video. They’re on YouTube for damn near every Sierra adventure out there, mostly because Sierra took its time to make dying fun. There’d usually be a joke, or a pun, or a full animation to soften the blow. Larry only really had two proper cut-scenes in it, and both of them were for deaths – committing suicide if you took too long to get him laid by a lady, and a glimpse behind the scenes in the Sierra Factory. Finding that kind of thing was usually much more satisfying than actually solving the puzzles. Larry played relatively fair by the standards of the time, but not without a few moments of insane moon logic.

(The oddest of these in the first game is when he marries a gold-digger called Fawn, who drains him of everything he’s got, then ties him to the honeymoon bed in his underpants and runs off with his money. If you hadn’t previously collected the knife, you couldn’t cut the ropes. Exactly where he was keeping that knife, or how he used it while spreadeagled and helpless, gets somewhat glossed over because You’re Not Meant To Worry About That.)

As far as I'm concerned, this is still how games are made. Everything not done in the factory by Colonel Sanders here is simply outsourced to the magic elves.

There was something else to find though, which I found incredibly cool. Larry had cheat codes. Adventures never had cheat codes. By pressing Alt-D twice, you got to mess around behind the scenes, get all the items, teleport to any room (which is how I know about the virgin suicide death – I’d never actually taken long enough playing it to see it directly) and get all kinds of top-secret developer type information you weren’t meant to know. Lefty’s Bar for instance was Room 011, not – as you’d surely expect – Room 001. Isn’t that interesting?

No. It isn’t. But finding it was. Just picking and poking at Larry, even in the limited ways available at the time was largely what taught me that I loved adventure games. I’d play many better over the years, and I’d already played a few by this point, but this is the one that made me excited about the exploration and (relative) freedom I’d come to associate with the genre for the next decade or so. Now, one of my disappointments with it is how little of it I usually feel when I play most of the modern ones, compared to something like an adventuring RPG.

However, there was another side to Larry too, which I still keep in mind today: how easy it is to misjudge a game. The hate the series has gotten over the years is incredible, and even mentioning it usually draws mocking contempt. Leisure Suit Larry? That virtual sex game for losers? Well, no. It’s not a virtual sex game, anyway. It’s a comedy series that simply uses sex as its subject matter – the point isn’t to live vicariously through Larry as he gets off with random cartoon women, but to laugh at his misfortunes as he tries and fails.

Even then, there’s more to it than meets the eye, and it’s the original Larry trilogy I think of whenever I feel myself making a snap-judgement about a new game based on what it looks like, or how it’s been described in a few characters on Twitter. It’s a fascinating example of a series not being what it seems. Larry 1 may be a comedy remake of a game called Softporn Adventure, but it’s not really about sex at all. Nor are its two sequels. They’re about love, making Larry a more sympathetic hero than you’d think, given his reputation.

Sometimes, love hurts. Pity he didn't have that gun in the actual game though. It'd have made so many of the puzzles much easier...

It might sound odd to say that a game where you can have sex with a hooker within five minutes is either sympathetic or about love, but it’s true. Well, mostly. It does have plenty of silly, off-colour jokes, its female characters are very two-dimensional (although in fairness, so are all of the men) and there are moments across the whole series that I find pretty distasteful. However, when you get down to the details, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Take that hooker scene for instance. Larry’s stated goal in the first game, as a 40-year old salesman, is to lose his virginity. However, he’s no playboy. He has no idea what he’s doing. His polyester suit and confidence are a front, because in his head, that’s what a cool person is like. Simply having sex, like he thought he wanted, leaves him utterly unfulfilled, making him press on in search of something that actually means something.

That’s the goal of the original trilogy. Every time he thinks he’s found it, he’s shown as completely content. When Larry 2 starts for instance, he hasn’t realised that the woman he fell for only saw him as a one-night stand and isn’t happy to find him at her place, expecting to move in. At the end of the second game, he marries a native girl called Kalalau, and is blissfully fat and happy for the start of Larry 3… when he gets home to find that she’s divorced him while he was out. He dons the suit while shouting like a petulant child that he’s had enough of love and caring and his only goal now is going to be pleasure. That lasts until he falls for the game’s co-star, Passionate Patti (I know, just roll with it) and works his backside off to be a good enough man to win her. They go to bed, mutually realise that they’re in love… with rather more surprise in her case… and are just happily drifting off when Patti accidentally murmurs someone else’s name in her sleep. Hearing this, Larry has a complete breakdown, silently giving up forever and just walking off into the lethal tropical jungle to die. The second half of the game has you playing as Patti, chasing after him to give them both a happy ending. It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet, but it’s at least slightly touching. More than anything in Lula 3D, at least. Or Man Enough.

(After Larry 3, this element got almost completely removed from the series. It’s still there a bit in the otherwise truly diabolical, pointless, desperately unfunny Larry 5, which also splits control between Larry and Patti, and links their sections by showing their day-dreams. All of Larry’s involve Patti, who he’s lost touch with – having a romantic ride through Venice, attending a concert she’s playing and so on. All of hers… well, they’re all about banging Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Scrooge McDuck. In Larry 6 and 7, there’s no romance element at all – 6 is sleazy and mean-spirited, 7 is a really good, very underrated adventure, but one that really is about Larry running around in search of a good time. The later 3D games are hateful, misogynistic pieces of crap. Burn them in contemptuous fire and sow the ground with salt.)

Yes, you win the heart of a beautiful, half-naked woman and your immediate thought is 'Thank goodness this romantic retreat has a PC'. Oh, Larry.

This is something I like to keep in mind when easy targets come along – especially when they’re doing something off the beaten track. Look at the response to, say, Playboy: The Mansion, which was a perfectly respectable strategy game in its own right, or even the response to the Dragon Age trailers a few years back, the importance of it becomes clear. It’s so easy to be blindsided by what something ‘obviously’ is that you lose sight of the fact that you kinda need to find out for sure. If nothing else, it’s all the more satisfying when you realise you were right.

Oh, and it taught me lots of utterly pointless American trivia too.

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83 Comments »

  1. Legionary says:

    Wouldn’t have expected to see LSL in any Gaming Made Me, but it was a good read. Cheers Richard!

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, I wanted to do one that (while true) was a little off the beaten track.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I’m pleased to see it is, since Al Lowe did some really good stuff, and LSL was a lot of it. (It’s worth pointing out him being pushed out of it parallels the series sliding into terrible garbage that actually was exactly as shallow as it looked.) I think the series also did better at its Sierra deaths, with more of them being closer in cause and effect. You can laugh easier when you’re not realising you need to wind back several hours of save games (and cliff paths) to progress.

      (That said I’m sure there’s some stinkers in LSL2.)

      Also I love the line “King’s Quest CXVII: Boring Is The Head That Wears The Crown”. Dull, dull, dull flagship series.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      “I’m pleased to see it is, since Al Lowe did some really good stuff, and LSL was a lot of it.”

      Agreed. Magna Cum Laude was godawful (with the exception of a few individual scenes) and Box Office Bust was actual physical torture. Want to know if a reviewer played it more than half an hour? See if they mentioned the Western section. If they didn’t feel compelled to work off the anger and frustration incurred by those mini-games they never saw them. Trust me on this. Shudder. Actual nightmares…

      “I think the series also did better at its Sierra deaths, with more of them being closer in cause and effect.”

      Agreed, although there were some really nasty ones. In Larry 2, you could easily find yourself without items you needed to progress, and while Larry 3 was MOSTLY okay bar a few traps like forgetting to lock your locker in the gym (you’d get back to find all your stuff stolen with no way of getting it back), the stuff with Patti’s underwear was a bit cruel. If you didn’t have her put all of it on, in order, you couldn’t solve the puzzles in the jungle that relied on it, nor could you take any of it off if you forgot a piece.

      “Also I love the line “King’s Quest CXVII: Boring Is The Head That Wears The Crown”. Dull, dull, dull flagship series.”

      I like King’s Quest VI, the bit with Mana-nananana-way-hey-hey-goodbye the wizard at the start of King’s Quest III is interesting, and I like the idea of King’s Quest IV having a female lead (even if Plundered Hearts just pipped Rosella to the post). The rest of it is utter cack. Lazily slapped together fairy tales with no heart or sense of place to call its own, puzzle design that makes my brain weep blood, and Cedric. It’s one of the most overrated series ever.

    • Premium User Badge Thirith says:

      In defense of the King’s Quest games: KQVI was fun, quirky and had some pretty memorable bits. If I remember correctly, it was co-written by Jane Jensen (of Gabriel Knight fame) and it shows.

      Oops: misread your post. You already defended KQ6. Sorry ’bout that. :-) (By the way, the fan remake of KQ2 captures the feel of KQ6 quite well. Worth checking out, not least since it’s free.)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, like I said, I liked King’s Quest VI. A lot of it was in the details, like the way that while each individual island was still the same random story, they were tied together by the conspiracy, things like the genie constantly trying to get you to kill yourself, and options like sending things to Cassima. It had a coherence that the others lacked, better writing, and a much more absorbing main story .

  2. Cugel says:

    Great read! And as an aside, the phrase “…sow the ground with salt” is much underused.

  3. Premium User Badge Thirith says:

    I enjoyed Leisure Suit Larry 2 a lot, except… The spinach dip! My god, the spinach dip!

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      THE SPINACH DIIIIIIIIIIP!

    • manveruppd says:

      For me the plane was the worst bit. I was stuck on that plane literally FOR MONTHS (real time, but also probably game time!), trying to figure out how to stop myself from being talked to death, how to get up without the trolleys blocking my way, and how to get out of the thing. The hairpin thing never occurred to me even though I had bought the food at the airport, eaten it and died. I can’t remember why it was so hard now, I’m guessing I didn’t know what a bobby pin was (not a native English speaker).

      The second place I got stuck in for a long time was the end – there was some kind of bug that made the parser need a very specific wording for the hairspray thing.

      Still, despite all that it’s probably my favourite adventure game ever, a weird choice considering I’ve played them all but I can’t help it :)

  4. terry says:

    This game taught me of Pia Zadora and how to spell prophylactic.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Peppermint or spearmint?

    • Wahngrok says:

      I was told to ask for “rubber” but had no idea what that meant. And I learned what spanish fly was. Gosh, I must have been about 14 at that time… now I feel old. ;)

    • apa says:

      I learned English from Larry 1, playing at my dad’s work back then :D (I’m a native Finnish speaker…)

    • Devrey says:

      wow, me too! I was about 9 or 10 when I started playing this game. I learned to spell English (prophylactic) whilst the archaic DOS-shell we had messed up the textline so I couldn’t see what I typed whilst the keyboard was so worn down that not every key registered always. Yeah, frustrating, but aside from that the game was great and, i my eyes, huge.

      I also played it together with my mum, to help me with my english…

  5. BeamSplashX says:

    Excellent, Mr. Cobbett, just excellent.

    Well, it’s fun too, but mostly excellent. With a dash of cinnamon sugar.

    • westyfield says:

      Mmmm, cinnamon sugar. Why it has not taken off in Britain is a constant source of bafflement.

      Oh, and the article was good as well. Nice one Richard!

  6. mbp says:

    Larry 1 was the game that made me a PC gamer.

    I actually stayed behind in work and pulled an all nighter to finish the game way back in the 1980s.

  7. Bhazor says:

    I’m honestly shocked and amazed.
    This was written by Richard and not Kieron. Extraordinary.
    Edit: Mandatory link
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kexLyBndjo I have to agree that when this game has better dialog than Resi 4 you know the industry has gone wrong somewhere.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The last two “Larry” games are almost complete crap, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the series.

      If Al Lowe wasn’t involved, the Larry game is destined to be a miserable failure.

  8. Premium User Badge Jp1138 says:

    Larry 1 was the first graphic adventure game I saw: I was 11 or 12 and it was running on a pc in a computer fair – I was amazed: you could write to tell the guy what to do! The posibilities seemed infinite. At that time I had a 8-bit Amstrad CPC, so the most complex adventure games I could play were IF, and seing the guy walking aound the screen was a complete discovery for me… a year later I managed to get a PC for birthday or something and began playing Sierra and Lucasfilm games all the time :)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I remember seeing Monkey Island 2 at a show long before I could play it. I had a PC with CGA graphics and internal sound. Its VGA graphics and orchestral score were mindblowing. (I played the bit at the start where you get mugged by Largo, and sailing up the swamp. I didn’t get to play the full game for ages afterwards, but damn if it didn’t seem like the most impressive thing ever.)

    • Premium User Badge Jp1138 says:

      I feel your pain. The Pc I got was an 086 with VGA graphics, 20 MB HD and later an Adlib sound card. It played the Sierra and Lucasfilm games perfectly at first, but the Lucasfilm ones soon needed a 286 to run, so I could only see them at some friends´ computers: Monkey Island 2, Day of the Tenctacle, etc. At least the Sierra games worked (despite the reqs listed on the boxes)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      For a long time, the closest I got to good looking games was buying magazines and jiggling them around to pretend the screenshots were moving.

  9. BAReFOOt says:

    It’s so easy to be blindsided by what something ‘obviously’ is that you lose sight of the fact that you kinda need to find out for sure.

    That’s a well-known problem with humans. The more you just assume you exactly know this, the less you actually know it. I once mentioned this on a forum, and someone responded “I know that if I touch a cooking plate, I burn myself. Do you want me to re-check that fact too?? Idiot!”, to which someone else kindly answered just this: Induction cooker!!
    (Induction cooking plates don’t get hot. They heat the pot directly.)
    There are tons of those. And they will surprise you.
    So re-check all the things you never checked. Especially in social interaction. Which is bursting with things that “everybody knows” which are completely and utterly bullshit. But don’t be surprised if you don’t want to give up your wrong beliefs. One example: Women don’t like men with wealth. See? That’s hard to give up. But if you check it without prejudice, you’ll see it’s true. (The reason is, that wealthy men always think they have to brag about their wealth. Showing their Rolex. Mentioning they are doctors. Stuff like that. It’s an immense turn-off.) Yet, most people still insist on it being true. Even though they never checked, and never will.

  10. vodka and cookies says:

    There is a great LP of all the Larry games from 1-3 on the SomethingAwful forum, mixed in with trivia about the game and comments from Al Lowe.
    http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3322650

    It was a trilogy & there was never meant to be any more after the third hence the joke of the missing Larry 4 as Al couldn’t think of a way to bridge the story.

  11. The Tupper says:

    I missed any strife over the Dragon Age trailers of a few years back. Can anybody fill me in on what the perceived problem was?

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It was very GRAARGH! BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD! and used the song “This Is The New Shit” as its music. Didn’t quite gel with the old-school RPG people were expecting, and ultimately got.

    • Bhazor says:

      I’m guessing a similar thing will happen with the sequel.
      Everyone’s half expecting an ultra streamlined overly gory tit-tacular and what we’re actually getting is essentially Dragon Age, again. Which would be great.

    • The Tupper says:

      “This Is The New Shit”? Seriously? Ha! Sounds like Trendy Vicar Syndrome. Very nasty.

      Great game though.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I can see the thinking behind it – RPG fans were going to buy it anyway, so the adverts may as well try and get some other people involved – but it was very silly. The only redeeming feature was imagining the expression on the action kiddies when they loaded it up and got forsoothed in the face.

    • Bhazor says:

      Oh god.
      Imagine a twelve year old kid. Dressed like Marilyn Manson. His face hanging. His heart shattering.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      @ The Tupper: Yes, it was quite the thing. It did give birth to the dub-every-dubiously-sountracked-trailer-with-the-hawaii-five-o-theme meme, so it wasn’t all bad.

    • The Tupper says:

      @ Man Raised by Puffins
      Fantastic. I’m a relative newcomer to quality PC gaming blogs so I was unaware of just how bad the marketing for Dragon Age was, despite it being one of the best games I’ve ever played. Trendy Vicar indeed. I mean, Mary Mansion (or whatever her name is) hasn’t been cool since, like, never.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I’d imagine an actual Marilyn Manson fan’s gripes would be revolve around no proper turn-based combat and insufficient resemblance to Planescape: Torment, based on the ones I know.

    • anonymousity says:

      I would agree with you based on my experience MikoSquiz

  12. The Tupper says:

    By the way, Richard, I’ll echo the sentiment of many others when I say it’s good to have you here. I’ve always liked your stuff from The Other Place.

  13. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    An enjoyable read. I never played the Larry games, in exactly the same way I never felt inclined to play any of the Sierra games (as mentioned in the article Sierra Death Syndrome) and had always assumed they had no redeeming features. Now I know they’ve at least got this article, and possibly more!

  14. stahlwerk says:

    My first introduction to LSL 1 was in this form: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESMR-mO8BVM on the Amiga 500. The intro was spruced up from the other versions with catchy multichannel music. The rest of the game was bound by the AGI Engine to the lowest common denominator graphics format (160×200 with 16 colours) and (emulated) bleeps and bloops. I don’t remember if you could actually use the mouse cursor for anything in the game.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Fun fact: if you throw the original DOS versions of AGI engine games at a modern version of ScummVM, you’ll get polyphonic music too. Apparently it was a thing the PCjr could handle, so the data was there even for the regular PC-owning masses.

      (Plus you get more save slots, the most important resource in a Sierra adventure, so it’s well worth doing over DOSBox.)

  15. djbriandamage says:

    I loved this article. I too have innocent memories of playing “Land of the Lounging Lizards” as a little kid.

  16. Melf_Himself says:

    For anyone wanting to play these old Sierra games with a bizarre multiplayer twist head over to sarien.net.

    (Ergh, I just checked the link and you can’t play Larry, only Space/King’s/Police Quest. I think there were some legal issues because Larry is still an active license or something).

  17. Commander Gun says:

    Great article mate, all the more for being so exactly recognizable. From the workaround of the questions (i just typed alt+x to get past those), to the point that as a kid i had no idea what it was all about, the atmosphere certainly was amazing. I played days just for the casino subgames :) Also, this game (together with King’s Quest 1) tought me a good amount of english. That is one argument why i like sierra adventures more than Lucas Arts rly :)
    Oh gotta go, Ken Sent (for) Me…

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Literally the only things I know about card games, I learned from old adventure games. I’ve never so much as played a round of poker or blackjack in real life. Mostly because I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to use the Save/Restore trick in real life.

  18. JackShandy says:

    See, Curse of Monkey Island did the exact same thing for me as a kid! I bought it coming home from a shop because there were pirates on the cover and I really wanted something with a ton of action – up until then all I’d had was educational games about spelling. It was a surprise to find I’d picked up a game about clicking on things and listening to what a man said about them, but the beautiful artwork and sound still drew me in like crazy.

    I never got any of the jokes and I brute-forced my way through all the puzzles, but the simple pleasure of unlocking new places was enough for me. It’s just a shame it never had any secrets- I was always convinced that the game was hiding something, went through it over and over again clicking on things that didn’t seem to add up.

  19. DOLBYdigital says:

    I’ve posted this before on the silly gaming moment thread so I apologize if you read it before. This game is one of the more memorable games I played back when I was very young. (this and Dark Castle, Monkey Island, LOOM and a few others)

    When I was like 5 or 6, playing Leisure Suit Larry on my dad’s Macintosh, I was never able to make it past the prostitute. It took me forever to first realize I had to type ‘put condom on’ before having sex with her. Then I would often forget to type ‘put clothes on’ after having sex with her. Finally after remembering all those steps, I always wondered why the cops would still chase me and call me a perv… I thought they just knew I had sex with a prostitute but finally realized I never typed ‘take condom off’ after having sex with her….. good times learning wonderful things as a kid :)

    (I also memorized the questions/answers when I was young since I didn’t know about the work arounds…)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Well, technically, you don’t have to have sex with the prostitute at all ;-) You can just steal her candy (which I always thought was a bit rude, even if she doesn’t seem to care) and head out via the window to steal the pills from the next room without so much as undoing a button.

      But yeah. That was a hilarious death. Police Quest 1 had an even better one though. You can tell Sonny to take his clothes off wherever you like and he’ll actually do it. (He instantly dies of embarrassment. Literally.)

    • Shih Tzu says:

      Adam Cadre’s first work of IF is “Interstate Zero”, where you play a young lady whose car breaks down on the way home from her freshman year of college. At pretty much any point, you can take your clothes off and enjoy the reactions of the various NPCs. More games should have this!

  20. Shih Tzu says:

    Great article! I played it in largely similar circumstances, and I think I got pretty far, though I don’t remember how that was possible given how little I understood what was going on. I knew the game was supposed to be sort of naughty, but since as you mention it was more comedic than explicit, I was free to bumble around without encountering anything that would have actively disgusted my 10-year-old self. Thanks for your perspective on the first three games as well (I never played the other two); it’s nice to see a defense of the original aim of the series after its later installments and sleazy minigame collections cemented its reputation as puerile, vapid trash.

    Incidentally, since you make a passing reference to the lack of wide-ranging exploration and freedom in modern adventure titles, I’d be interested to see a retrospective of the Quest for Glory series on RPS. They didn’t always work (and I mean both in terms of design and in terms of oh god the bugs), but when they did, it made such a sublime hybrid of the character-building of role-playing games and the world-detail of classical adventure games. I really ought to play that remake of QfG2 one of these days…

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I love QFG. Especially 1 in VGA and 4. Lots of great memories in that series. And oh, the puns…

      (makes thief sign)

    • Premium User Badge Andy_Panthro says:

      QFG4 is probably my favourite of the series too, and it was an odd experience when I got the CD version later on with voice acting.

      I reviewed it for Abandonia, in fact. Won’t link there, wouldn’t want to cause any trouble. A quick search will find it.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah. Definitely don’t mention the anthology in the ISO Cellar either. Wouldn’t want anyone just stumbling across that one by accident.

      The voiceover was so good in QFG4, especially John Rhys-Davies’ Narrator. I’m pretty sure Katrina was Jennifer Hale’s first big game role too, so in a way, we have it to thank for the Shepardess in ME2.

  21. DeepSleeper says:

    I remember being allowed to sit up and watch my father and uncle playing Larry, as a treat. They were badly stuck and glowering at the screen, and I nervously piped up “Look in the ashtray?”

    What? Why would there be… Hey! Something in the ashtray!

    For that night I was ADVENTURE HERO, champion of adventure knowledge. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I knew to do that because I played Space Quest a lot and you had to look at everything and in everything or you died a lot. And sometimes you died because of it. ADVENTURE HERO.

  22. StingingVelvet says:

    I am an asshole because despite growing up on Sierra and Lucasarts adventure games I have never, ever, played one minute of Leisure Suit Larry. I have the Dosbox collection they released a while back and have planned to play it but have never got around to it. Hell I have stacks of modern adventure games I have never gotten around to.

    Sad face.

  23. digitalsoap says:

    When I was about 6 or 7, my uncle had a copy on his 286. He let me play it, but only if I could answer the child protection questions at the beginning. I think I spent more time answering random trivia questions than the actual game.

  24. bill says:

    Please fix your shogun ad so it doesn’t keep crashing my browser/laptop. That is all. Thanks.

  25. Grey_Ghost says:

    This really takes me back. Once upon a time you could rent PC games (yeah totally weird!), and LSL 3 was one of the first games I played. I remember it being very entertaining.

    Heroes Quest is what got me into PC gaming, and Sierra Online fueled & framed my gaming experience for many years after that.

  26. bill says:

    I played one of the later SVGA Larry games when i was about 12 or 13. I don’t remember what it was, but i thought it was awful and didn’t get very far.
    At that age, i wanted something with naked ladies, yet i never saw anything remotely sexy or funny and seem to remember most of it being about liposuction. Maybe i was too young to get any humour.

    That tainted the whole brand for me.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      That’s Larry 6. It’s got some okay parts, but I don’t like that one much.

    • stahlwerk says:

      “Use” the fitness instructor’s name tag shirt 3 times. There you go!
      Now I feel dirty for even remembering that. Will you still take me, Peter Saint Jesus?
      Edit: good thing I remembered poorly. Soul = saved.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      There’s the shower easter egg too.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      You can also glance at the bum of the girl on the ladder ahead of you as she climbs up for a zoomed shot.

  27. bill says:

    My first adventure game experience was Indian Jones and the Last Crusade. It seems to be the forgotten Lucasarts adventure game. Everyone raves about Fate of Atlantis, DoTT, Sam & Max, etc.. but no-one remembers this poor game.

    Ok, it wasn’t as good as those, but it was pretty cool for my 10 year old self. Infact, I spent weeks playing it. It was a little weird, as the fact i’d seen the movie was both a pro and a con. I knew what I should be doing, but the game sometimes wouldn’t let me do it, or sometimes changed things.

    But it pretty well captured the atmosphere of the game, and even allowed you to fight your way through if you got stuck (but i could never win. It always annoyed me that in the airship, when it would crash soon, Indy couldn’t fight his way past a stupid waiter. Or couldn’t say “you know, this airship is going to crash soon!”. )

    But I never worked out how i was actually supposed to solve the “jump from the lion’s head” puzzle… so it was always random luck for me.
    It might not have been as classic as the other titles, but it set the scene for many of them pretty well.

    • Wilson says:

      Yeah, I played the other ones you mentioned (loved Fate of Atlantis!) but never had the Last Crusade. I tried it in DosBox a while back, but got stuck in the manor house full of Nazi’s because of the rather harsh combat system where you don’t regenerate your health between fights. Well, it felt harsh to me after Fate of Atlantis, but maybe I was just terrible at it.

    • Premium User Badge Jp1138 says:

      Well, I always liked Last Crusade more than Atlantis, don´t know really why. Maybe it was because of the printed diary of the grail that came with the game :)

      For the lion´s head, you only had to click to cross the chasm af soon as you entered, as it was a proof of faith – a little hesitation and you were dead.

    • bill says:

      Seriously? That was it? I always thought there was some kind of puzzle because there were 3 lion’s heads… so i’d spend ages trying to figure out where to jump. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Never worked that out… oh the days of no internet and no walkthroughs..

  28. stahlwerk says:

    Hey, just a heads up for all of youse island folks needing their point and click fix: Jane Jensen’s Gray Matter was officialy released on Friday and is available e.g. on amazon.co.uk for 17,90 poundmoneys shipped.

  29. Igor Hardy says:

    I wonder if there was any player who left the series in disappointment after the change in tone and dropping the “looking for love” theme in Leisure Suit Larry 5 and 6.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      They were definitely much tackier. Larry 5 suffered from a bit of the same problem as Magna Cum Laude, in that it specifically gave Larry the objective of ‘sleep with these three women’. But just in general, he wasn’t as likeable and the world was much seedier. Not to the extent of the godawful VGA remake of the first game, but still… Larry 7′s cartoon graphics really helped it a lot. While it upped the fan-service and sexiness quotient a ridiculous amount, it was in the cheerful, naughty postcard kind of way and it easily spent as much time using the production values to humiliate Larry as the sexytime stuff.

      Magna Cum Laude was far, far worse though. The script wasn’t funny (just for starters, bleeping excessive swearing is almost always better than just having every character f-bomb every other line), its attitude was horrific, the basic structure didn’t make sense, and the new Larry was a walking advert for chemical castration. The only reason it’s not the worst Larry ever is that Box Office Bust exists, and really does plumb whole new depths in atrocity. The only thing more terrifying than realising that someone out there thought it might be fun is that they must have thought it was sexy too.

      Ugh. Those terrifying teeth made of mercury…

    • malkav11 says:

      I’m sorry. I’m the person that thought it was funny. MCL, that is. Not -fun-, you understand – the game portions were with a single exception awful (the conversation minigame was kind of a neat idea) and towards the end I made heavy use of the feature that let you skip minigames. But despite the parts where the game was grinningly sophomoric, the other main component of MCL’s humor was completely random off the wall wackiness, and I really dig that. A lot more so than the wink-wink-nudge-nudge innuendo and cheesy puns of LSL7 (though I do like what I saw of that game and will someday get back to it). The demon-possessed band geek, the stereotypical Russian girl that flies away on her own personal jetpack, the monkey…

      Since the opinion that MCL was categorically awful (instead of merely bad with some funny bits) seemed to be widely held, I considered getting Box Office Bust just in case I disagreed with the critics there as well. …then I watched ten minutes of an LP of it and couldn’t take it anymore. Terrible, terrible writing – actively offensive, in fact; and gameplay that looked incredibly tedious.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      I played LSL7 before all the others and remember I was quite surprised to later learn in the original LSL1 that Larry is a bit more than just a horny, aged “playboy” delusional about having a sense of style. It’s a shame that the backstory explaining his “leisure suit” image as a kind of mask got obscured in later installments.

      Still, my favorite games in the series remain both LSL7 and LSL1 EGA – despite the fact they are so far apart. I sometimes wonder if it’s the same Larry in both games. Oh, and I definitely agree that the great cartoony graphics in 7 strangely endeared some of the cruder bits.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      LSL7 is one of the very few sex-positive games out there. Even the earlier games often had a cynical edge (especially the first). LSL7 is cheery, light-hearted and fun.

  30. JFS says:

    Oh my. I’m only 25 and German (so no chance with those age questions, pretty much not even today), and I PLAYED THIS GAME back in the day! Either I’m already very old or I’m a diehard gamer and didn’t notice that by know, but thanks anyway to Richard Cobbett for taking me there with this article! :)

  31. MrEvilGuy says:

    remake 1 plus 2 and 3 were my favorite adventure games of all time.

    it was heavenly bliss

    I played them at about age 13ish I think

    old enough to understand it, and young enough to feel pure escape into that world

    The second and third let me escape from the grungy city, and into the wild, making it a true adventure. The first one just set the stage.

  32. Kizor says:

    It says a lot about the first three games’ quality that they were popular amongst girls and women where I’m from.

    I don’t know what it says, but it says it a lot.

  33. NegativeZero says:

    I’m another one who played this as a teenager – would have been 11 or 12. Didn’t have the benefit of all those wonderful colors though. I had my Dad’s old Black & White Mac Plus in my room for ages and a stack of old pirated games, of which LSL was one. The hardest part of it was actually getting into the game in the first place, with the whole question system. Eventually through trial and error I figured out enough of the answers that I could get into the game every 2-3 tries. Actually managed to nut my way through to the end of the game through the same trial and error approach. Still have a lot of fond memories. It wasn’t that incredible a game, but there was something about the whole thing that really clicked the way that few adventure games have since.

    I actually played a fair bit of it with my younger sister, who would have only been around 8 years old at the time. She was young enough that I think she never really realised what the goal of the game was, but she’s now an adventure game addict and I suspect LSL is the origin of that.

    Incidentally, is the original trilogy still available (and playable) any more via GoG or similar? Given how much enjoyment I got out of my pirated copy of the game as a kid I’d love to pay for it finally.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Nope, not officially anyway. There are copies floating around of the old anthology Leisure Suit Larry’s Greatest Hits and Misses, but that’s a bit pointless because it leaves out LSL7.

  34. RegisteredUser says:

    *gasp* piracy.
    How did the industry ever live.

  35. rocketman71 says:

    Oh, god. Larry!.

    I’ll never forget me, being 12-13 at the time, and 5 or 6 other friends shouting at the green phosphor, trying to use our little English to get something out of the disco girl (was that the final girl?).. “write kiss her!”. “no, fuck her”, “no, no, no, take her hand and dance or something!”.

    Good times. And being 12 and from Europe, the initial questions were a game in itself. I think I learned more US politics trying to play Larry than in the following 20 years.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Nope, Fawn is a gold-digger who steals all Larry’s money. The final girl is Eve, a naked lady in a hot-tub in the penthouse atop the casino.

  36. muted says:

    growing up, I played a lot of adventure games, even if the Sierra games weren’t my favorites ( having to start over because you forgot to pick up one item at the beginning, or the 200 ways to die on every screen ) LSL was something of legends but I have to admit that most of my enjoyment was based on my immaturity at the time.