Adventure Gamers Awards
If there ever was an adventure game that needed no introduction, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards is that game. Now more than 25 years after its initial release, Leisure Suit Larry – Reloaded arrives as a remake of the famous (or should I say infamous) 1987 game. It's a high definition update of the first game in the franchise, but it doesn't simply give the game a new coat a paint. Instead, it also adds new plot twists, jokes, puzzles and encounters whilst retaining the same flavour and remaining true to the original story of its beloved predecessor. Alas, like its protagonist, the enhanced version remains very, very short.
For the uninitiated, Larry Laffer is a traveling software salesman who at the tender age of 40 still lives with his mother, who also happens to be the proud keeper of his virginity. Hopeless in the art of love, there is no one who knows this better than poor old Larry himself. Sick and tired of his predicament and his mother’s knitted sweaters, Larry fishes through his closet for his old leisure suit and sets off to the town of Lost Wages to find his manhood and meet the woman of his dreams. Unfortunately, in most women’s eyes Larry is not exactly the catch of the day, so he will need to use all his wit and tenacity if he’s to succeed. So look out, Lost Wages – it’s going to be a crazy night!
Larry starts out in front of a seedy bar called Lefty’s in a run-down part of the city. Inside Lefty’s, Larry begins his adventure for true love (or at least something along those lines), but eventually his journey will take him to such places as the hotel casino called the Caesar’s Phallus, a wedding chapel by the name of Weddin' Ready!, a not-so-convenient convenience store called the Come-N-Go and a retro-themed disco called Studio 69. The original '80s version of the game didn’t have many scenes to explore, and you’ll find that true of this remake also. There are a few new areas but they are largely built into the existing framework rather than creating whole new buildings or locations. A few places allow you to walk to the next screen over if it happens to be adjacent, but you’ll find yourself hailing a cab more often than not to jump between scenes.
One challenge Larry faces is a limited supply of money. He starts off with about $94 in his wallet and will need much more in order to pay for taxis, drinks and other things required to progress. Since there’s no honest way to earn cash, Larry will have to turn to one of the many slot machines in Lost Wages to boost his spending money for the evening. This is a particularly tricky part of the game, as chances are many players will end up losing all their money. If you do go broke, all you need to do is walk out onto the street for a brief comedic interaction with a friendly bum, who will hand over $10 to help you get back on your feet because he thinks you look worse off than he is. In order to avoid spending hours simply trying your luck against the one-armed bandit, strategic use of the save and load functions here goes a long way toward attaining your goal (essentially the same technique that everyone used the first time around).
The crux of the game, however, is to help Larry find all the clues and accessories he needs in order to impress and seduce ladies that capture his interest (which is almost all of them). Not that Larry has much success in this area, as most of the gags are set up for Larry to fail, and the jokes often revel in his futility. Larry is an awkward character who lacks any natural sense of style or suaveness, but he has a devil-may-care attitude due to his sheer desperation. The women are generally portrayed as glamorous beauties that are more intelligent, craftier and more empowered than Larry will ever be. With the exception of one early and one late encounter, all of his interactions with the main female characters tend to leave Larry looking bad.
This may be a problem for the protagonist, but it's good for players, as Larry's hopelessness is depicted rather colourfully for our amusement, and there is a degree of empathy that can be felt for his character, at least by anyone who’s ever struggled with the opposite sex or just been on a bad date. The female cast include a rather funky-looking (and I mean that in a bad way) ‘lady of the night’, a woman of leisure residing in the local night club, a concierge, a diver who constantly swims with a whale called ‘Mr Wiggles’ in the casino aquarium, and finally Eve, who resides in the hotel penthouse suite and represents Larry’s ultimate goal.
LSL Reloaded is relentless in its adult themes, presented in a vaguely Benny Hill-style of humour but with a lot more dry wit and sarcastic overtones. For the most part, sex is merely alluded to or censored away but never actually shown. In fact, the game is actually much tamer than its reputation suggests; most late night television shows probably have more gratuitous nudity and violence than Larry ever sees. But constant innuendo abounds, and there is a certain charm in taking a character who is so naïve and pathetic and sending him out on a do-or-die mission to rescue his love life from extinction, all the while being humiliated, teased and tortured in the process. This kind of approach enhances the experience, as it focuses more on Larry’s comical actions and state of mind than actually scoring with the women.
Two elements carried over from the original game are Larry’s incessant need for breath spray and death sequences. Larry will get constant reminders to freshen up if his breath begins to smell exceedingly bad. I’m not sure if this has any major impact on the gameplay, but it certainly provides some light humour during conversation with particular characters. When Larry does something stupid or tries something he shouldn’t, you'll be greeted with a rather amusing death sequence of some sort. The good news here is that should you get killed, you are quickly restored to the point just before you died and given another chance to avoid the same fate. Even better is that the majority of deaths are very funny to watch and usually end in a cutscene of Larry being re-born in an underground lab, much in the same fashion as Frankenstein, before being returned to the previous scene.Continued on the next page...