Copyright © 2004
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Posted: October 16, 2004.
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 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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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