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PopEntertainment.com > Miscellaneous > Leisure Suit Larry

Leisure Suit Larry Magna Cum Laude

Leisure Suit Larry

Return of an Icon

by Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2004 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Posted: October 16, 2004.

Screw Lara Croft.  Forget Mario and Luigi.  PacMan was just a little cheese wheel eating up tiny candy dots.  People go on and on about Mortal Kombat, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and Madden 2005.  Get to the back of the line.

The most important character in video game history was a pudgy, balding, horny guy in white polyester named Larry Laffer.  Or, if you prefer, Leisure Suit Larry.  For Leisure Suit Larry is a God for all video game players, a nice, nebbishy guy who is constantly going after the girls, but he never, ever really gets them.  He thinks he's stylish but he's wearing clothes from seven years ago.  He thinks he's a catch but he is aging, unemployed, chubby and losing his hair.  He thinks he is a charmer, however all of his lines are straight from a book called something like Bagging Babes the Damian Way.  He drinks too much and eats too much and he only goes outdoors as a way to get into another building.  He has been told by women "I just think of you as a friend" more often than the world heard George W. Bush say that running the country was "hard work" in the first Presidential Debate of 2004.  On the rare occasions that he is going to score, fate swoops in and blows his chances.  Larry Laffer IS every gamer. 

Larry Laffer first popped up in 1987 at a squalid bar in the town of Lost Wages, a thirtyish virgin looking desperately to score in a world where shallow, superficial things like looks, money and personality were needed to win over women.  The game Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards was fun, exciting and downright funny.  Larry had to avoid surly cab drivers, gold-digging women, big-mouthed convenience store clerks, weak-bladdered dogs, diseased hookers and defective blow-up sex dolls to finally find true love... or at least as close to true love as Larry Laffer can get.  The game won an award as "Best Adventure/Fantasy Role Playing Game of 1987."  Looking back at it now, the graphics were primitive and the game play was kind of hard (you had to type in everything you wanted to do rather than use a mouse.)  It was still great fun, and in 1991 they updated the game to make it a little more user friendly.  Leisure Suit Larry in the Land oLeisure Suit Larry Magna Cum Laude picture 2f the Lounge Lizards helped to make a small software company named Sierra one of the biggest successes in the industry, they also struck gold with the King's Quest and Police Quest series, as well as one of my personal favorite series ever, the Laura Bow mysteries.

In the meantime, Larry Laffer kept popping up like the Energizer Bunny of the singles bar scene in a series of new "adventures" which became progressively more state-of-the-art, but more importantly still dead funny (and kinda sexy).  Leisure Suit Larry 2 Looking For Love (In Several Wrong Places) finds our hero (very) suddenly single again, touring Los Angeles, the airport, a cruise ship and a tropical island avoiding Mafia-types and ending up with an island Princess.  She dumps him early in the next game, and he ends up meeting the femme fatale who would inspire the next two adventures Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals and Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work.  There was no Leisure Suit Larry 4.  Why not?  Just to fuck with us I'd guess.  These last two games are fun because you toggle back and forth between controlling Larry and the love of his life.  Finding passion, solving mysteries and toying with popular culture (the parody of MC Hammer is a hoot)... the games are too fun.  However, in Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out, Passionate Patti is gone.  Why?  Well, it never says, but you just have to assume it is because this is Leisure Suit Larry... it is inevitable that a beautiful woman will leave him in the end.  So he ends up in a health spa.  Again, why?  Lots of hot, sweaty, scantily clad women to entice Larry and stay just out of his reach.  If a guy can't get laid in a health spa, what is his best chance?  A cruise ship, of course, so the last of the series (in 1996) Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail had the old smoothie striking out on the high seas.

Now, finally after eight years, Larry is back in Leisure Suit Larry Magna Cum Laude.  Of course at this point, ol' Lar is a little long in the tooth to be hitting on all the co-ed hotties in the college setting of the new game (although if he were stuck down on that campus I know he'd do his best) so this new version features his nephew, a nerdy, pudgy, slightly balding, horny, virginal college student named Larry Lovage.  It may be a different Larry, but it's the same old Larry, if you know what I mean.  Larry is nice, good-humored, not well built and desperately bad at succeeding with the mamacitas.  In fact, he is the kind of loser who would refer to women as "mamacitas." 

Like any college student, Larry has important plans for his college years, and for the most part those plans either come in a can or in short-shorts.  Of course, wearing the mantle of Leisure Suit Larry means that he needs to use one of these to try and trick the other one.  In the time since the last Larry game, the world has changed and gaming has changed, so of course the latest adventure is a little more fast paced, a little racier than even the previous ones.  They even break the nudity barrier here -- earlier in the series it was all a tease (probably best characterized by the black bar reading "censored" which covered Larry and his paramours in the sex scenes in The Land of the Lounge Lizards), but in Magna Cum Laude Leisure Suit Larry Magna Cum Laude picture 3there are brief flashes of skin.  This is also the first Larry game where the action is three-dimensional; all the previous stories had been two-dimensional... and frankly that made for easier game play... but 3-D is the wave of the current and it was inevitable that the game follow suit. 

We know where things are going from the motto on the rear cover of the game, "Help Larry Earn a BA in T & A."  In it, our guy has to use guile, pluck, charm and a positive attitude trying to seduce a cowgirl, a cheerleader, a band chick, a hot science girl, a femme fatale and a dancer.  How successful is he going to be?  Have you been paying attention? 

It doesn't matter though.  Even though you know most of the time young Larry is due for a cyber cold shower, you can't help but hope.  You can't help but try harder for him.  You can't help but root for the guy.  Leisure Suit Larry is every guy who ever got a fake phone number, every guy who ever got a beer thrown in his face, every guy who has gotten stood up, every guy who has sneaked a peek at the thong riding high on the cute girl a few bar stools down, every guy who has had a girl tell him she has a headache, every guy who has gotten a good night hug.  It isn't so fun to live through in real life, but it's a hell of a lot of fun to play.  Besides, unlike real life, you can be pretty sure that at the end of the game, our hero is gonna get lucky.

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Copyright 2004 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Posted: October 16, 2004.

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Copyright 2004 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Posted: October 16, 2004.