Yesterday, Al Lowe told me a dirty joke. "What do you call a redneck with a pig under one arm and a sheep under the other arm?" "Bisexual."
Al Lowe likes telling jokes, many of them dirty. Back in 1987 he created Leisure Suit Larry, an adventure game about a loser who tries to score with hot women.
Earlier this week, he and a small team of dreamers who wanted to remake the original game with updated graphics and other new touches broke their goal of collecting more than $US500,000 on the crowd-funding service Kickstarter.
They actually hauled in more than $US650,000 which triggered a clause that guarantees that the remake will include a new girl for Larry to try to score with and a couple of new rooms.
While Lowe was watching people marathon through his Leisure Suit Larry games online for charity this past weekend, he asked fans what kind of girl they'd want. "Almost the universal answer was ‘Asian! We want an Asian girl!'" Lowe recalls them saying. (analyse that!) So that's what's happening.
The comeback of Leisure Suit Larry and the exuberance of its fans delights Lowe and former stand-up comic Josh Mandel, who will help write the new content for the new game (and who wrote many of the jokes in the Larry Kickstarter campaign. They're teaming up with Replay Games and Tel Aviv-based developer Adventure Mob.
The return of Larry is part of a comedy continuum for the jovial Lowe who literally tries to make people laugh five days a week by sending subscribers to his emailing list two jokes a day. The farmer joke was one of the two jokes he sent on the day we spoke.
"I try to send out one clean joke a day," he said, which is the kind of caveat that tells you a lot about his sense of humour. Lowe doesn't write the jokes, though he does edit them to punch them up. He's been doing this for 14 years. He's even collected them on his website in a searchable joke database.
For Lowe, this return of Larry is a triumph for funny games, but it's also a resurgence for one of the only popular games that's ever been about sex. It's not that LSL was porn. As Mandel pointed out, Larry was such a loser that it wasn't even possible to generate explicit situations in the old games.
Lowe doesn't keep up with most modern games, so he seems quaintly unaware how far from the edge his formerly-edgy game now is.
"Are we going to be AO?" he asked Paul Trowe, who runs Replay Games. AO is essentially the XXX rating in the gaming industry and ensures that a game won't be sold at any major retail chain.
"Have you seen God of War, Al?" Trowe laughed. chimed in. There's actually full-on titty."
A fan plays through the first game. Note the amazing age verification system!
The LSL re-make, Trowe promised, will just be M-rated. And that's what Lowe wants, since he looks back at the M-rated but more explicit Leisure Suit Larry sequels that were made without him and says they "prove the point that the [original] games were not really about sex and T&A… those [newer] games were much more risqué and overtly sexual than my stuff ever was and they both bombed."
Lowe believes his games were about humour first — and only humour he could get past his wife, who he says was the only person who ever nixed any Leisure Suit Larry jokes (he won't say which ones). The old games were raunchy if not explicit. "I thought that sex would be a good means to an end, and I was looking to do a humorous game, one reason at the time was because there very few games out there like that. There were very few games that combined humour with a mature theme, although it's rather immature in most places!... The whole goal of the game was never pornography or blatant sex, because you can get that anywhere.
You'll be able to follow the development of the Leisure Suit Larry remake at Replay Game's website. Keep your eye on the Replay forums for the latest news. The remake is planned for release on PC and mobile platforms.