Twenty five year old classic gets Kickstarted into life, but does Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded add some spice into the bedroom or has the magic gone out of this relationship?
I have fond me… I have memories of playing Leisure Suit Larry when it originally came out on the Amiga back in the early 90s. I went next door as a pre-teen and sat open mouthed in wonder as my older – and therefore cooler – next door neighbour stumbled his way round the crude interface trying to purchase condoms.
After realising that buying condoms was beyond us, we decided not to bother and just chatted up some questionable lady in a bar. As a result of that unsafe sex, Larry’s penis exploded. It was a valuable lesson learned.
Now after that bit of nostalgia, it seems appropriate that Larry’s first bit of interaction is to make you feel old. Like the original, it has a series of questions to make sure you’re over 18. These range from the kind of things kids don’t know about architecture (even I had to google that one) to out of date pop culture references. Do you know where Oz, Xander and Willow are from off the top of your head? Yes, because I did watch Buffy when it was brand new. That show finished ten years ago. God dammit. However, like I proved, in this day and age, such a way of verifying ages is a waste of time, but it’s nice that it’s there. Just like old times.
Over 18s Only
That’s the thing about Leisure Suit Larry – and some could argue Kickstarter in general – it’s a nostalgia trip. But Larry is everything that’s wrong with that stance. It doesn’t really do anything new. Except for the graphics. While these have been jazzed up, right now they’re still missing something. Frames mostly. Nothing seems to flow right, like they’ve saved money by only animating half the frames needed. The art style is hit and miss too. Some characters are drawn brilliantly – Larry in particular since he’s based on the work the series did in its later life – but others just look crude. While the game may be crude, that’s no excuse for the art to be sloppy.
It’s also not learned much from those games that have come along since. Most cursors are context sensitive these days, and while this might be a step above the original text parser, it’s not that far from the version that came out in the 90s. Scrolling through the various ‘verbs’ is tedious, especially since most other point and clicks have learnt to slim them down as much as possible, leaving you with three or four at most. Larry has a grand total of eight, some of which are highly pedantic.
Upon telling Larry to ‘use’ a door, the narrator openly tells you doors are for walking through. If Larry’s stood in front of an item you’re blocked from clicking it, as your cursor will instead land on him, resulting in a vaguely amusing line the first time you hear it (and only the first time, not the infuriatingly many times it will inevitably follow), but not what you actually want. To get the item itself you have to move him out the way. Then there’s the barely used unzip and smell/taste verbs that are just taking up valuable space.
In fact that pretty much sums up this entire remake – it’s just not gone far enough.Leisure Suit Larry needed more than a graphic overhaul, but other than a few tweaks to a couple of existing puzzles that’s all this is. When one of the new ‘puzzles’ is just a hidden object game, and not even a complicated one at that, you know you’re stuck firmly in the past.
It needs more polish, mostly in the art department. The cursor should have been updated in a huge way. This was the perfect opportunity to revitalize an old franchise, but instead they’ve upped the graphics and not much more. For a Kickstarter by the original creators, this could have been something special, instead it comes across as lazy. You can’t even move when the narrator is talking, you’re just stood still, because anything else will interrupt him.
I’m really not sure how Leisure Suit Larry will do. Playing the game reminded me how much it feels like it was aimed at teenagers, and nowadays kids are too busy insulting each other’s mothers as they blow each other up on Call of Duty, and I’m not sure there’s anything here for them. Those that really cared probably already backed the Kickstarter. Some point-and-clicks feel timeless, some work despite how old they are. Leisure Suit Larry doesn’t – it feels dated – and while the final version may look and run slightly smoother, there’s not enough here to hope any of the important stuff will be that different.