Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded : The Kotaku Review

Sex was gross, unknowable and weird. Yet, for some reason, I was supposed to want it. These were the lessons I learned from Leisure Suit Larry way back when, which I had no business playing as a teenager. In 2013, the updated sex/comedy game still feels like something I shouldn't be experiencing. But, this time, it’s mostly because the game’s not very good.

I don't remember much about the first time I played Leisure Suit Larry, lo these many decades ago. All that comes back is that it was a shared experience with friends who'd somehow gotten the game. Like lots of players of a certain age, I experienced Al Lowe's comedic adventure game when I was underage. Much of its raunchy humour went over my head but I knew that it was deep in the wilds of a taboo landscape I wasn't supposed to be experiencing.

Today — with all the myriad ways that talking about sex has changed and the mere existence of the internet — the goalposts on what's taboo have moved. There's this meta-awareness that people do all kinds of kinky, messy stuff behind closed doors and all of that's OK as long as it's consensual and nobody sprains anything. With all this extra thematic room to play with, it feels like Larry creator Al Lowe should have been able to bring back his signature creation even funnier than ever, especially since thousands of Kickstarter backers gave more than $US650,000.

The basics of the Leisure Suit Larry template are unchanged here. You play as a 40-year-old disco-suited loser named Larry Laffer as he meanders through the city of Lost Vegas, trying to lose his virginity and supposedly find true love. Some jokes have been clumsily updated while others — like the Angry Broads video game in the convenience store — try to poke elbows at the time that's passed since Larry's heyday. But these things make the proceedings come off as incredibly dated.

The art style in Reloaded feels disappointingly amateurish. The draftsmanship is inconsistent and doesn't create any charm or overall aesthetic for players to take away. It's in hi-def, but that's really all there is to recommend it from a graphical standpoint. Just like the ribald innuendos corny one-liners that tumble from every character's mouth, visual puns choke every screen you click through. Reloaded's saving grace is the funky, jazzy soundtrack by Austin Wintory, which helps make up for the uneven voicework riddled through the game. However, the overall effect is that Lowe and his co-creators never bothered filtering the good stuff from the bad.

But the worst offence is in how the game makes you grind. And no, not in a good way. Even using a save/reload trick that lets you stack winnings with having to lose it all, you'll spend long, tedious stretches of time at Lost Vegas' gambling machines. All this padding of pockets would be acceptable if it let you pay for a better quality of funny. But it doesn't.

The original LSL won its fans by delivering a randy, off-color take on standard trial-and-error adventure game mechanics. But ultimately, what felt daring then feels a bit dated now, like a stack of a salty uncle's girlie mags. You realise that as an adult that they're in poor taste but remain wistful for the mysteries they revealed to you once upon a time. But, wistfulness isn't enough to redeem what's offered here.

LSL:R feels like the kind of game that hides behind the "we make fun of everybody" rubric. But, as always, the key to earning such protections from finger-waggers and tut-tutters is in being good, if not great. Reloaded is neither of those things. Yeah, Larry’s a loser lead character and winds up the butt of most of his encounters but the lazy stereotypes and weak jokes will make the player feel like the one being mocked.

It's not just bad taste; it feel like no taste at all. All you need to do is watch random episodes of South Park, Archer, Futurama or Family Guy to understand how the current-day gems of impolite comedy can shine. Disco balls notwithstanding, nothing about Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded shines. And, well, if you want to see sexual acts on a computer screen, there’s a plethora of options available to you in this modern age. Whether you’re looking for comedy or titillation, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded feels like something that doesn't need to exist.


Comments

    I, like the reviewer, was underage when I played my first LSL game through, which was Larry 5.
    However, the main attraction to the game was that it was a solid adventure game with interesting, but not impossible, puzzles.
    Most of the humor went over my head and while the titilation held some small attraction, it was nothingcompared to the fun of the jokes I did understand and the slapstick humor.
    I haven't played this one yet but considering the review boiled down to "I don't like this anymore" without discussing much of the gameplay, I guess I'll find out for myself.

      I used to repeat the jokes from the comedy club in 3 at school....Was lucky if i understood half of them at the time.

    @lonewolf here we go then

    I've been a Larry Laffer fan since day dot. I've played every single incarnation. When I heard this was 'coming' I was eager and enthusiastic. I figured it would be animation rich, have new content added and be a fair bit longer than the original? It definitely isn't. I'm ok with that though. Those were my assumptions. There's SOME new content but the games really shown its age, granted its a remake so thats a given. The animation is dodgy, very dodgy. While Im not expecting AVATAR animation what I would have liked is possibly double the frames in something as simple as even WALKING which looks amazingly skitterish. I dont know what Lowe spent 650k on but theres no way it was this. Its an interesting trip down memory lane but not all trips are good ones, its a reminder that this is the very sort of thing we as gamers have saying we have gone beyond.

    All up its an interesting experienceand one I would recommend taking, but is it worth 20 bucks? No. Maybe 5. But its worth taking to remind yourselff that some things are best left in the past where they belong.

      Agreed. I would have a much more positive opinion of it if I had paid $5 instead of $20 for about 3 1/2 hours of game time. Putting the time aside, I didn't really enjoy it either. I think I laughed once and the puzzles were of a very sub-par standard compared to pretty much any LucasArts adventure game.
      Then when the ending suddenly happened and Al Lowe appeared as the credits rolled, I found myself yelling, "f*** you, Al Lowe. I want my money back!" I can't say that any other game has made me do that!

      Thanks. I was hoping with Lowe involved it would pick up where 5 and 6 left the series, but by the sounds of things the wrong corners have been cut.
      Just have to wait until it hits the bargain bin.
      Also, now I remember it was 6, Shape Up Or Slip Out, that I really started with.
      @Brewer74 LSL 7 was Love for Sail, but not sure if that would have run on a 486.
      In 2/3 you ended up on an island but I can't remember the circumstances.

        Hmm, maybe it was the Pentium 75MHZ. Lol, Cant believe that this is where it all started for me, back then 75mhz was WAVE OF THE FUTURE stuff. I think it was Love For Sail. I have always wanted a remake of Full Throttle from that era too, but after this, I might hold my demands back a bit..

    What was the one on the Boat? I remember playing that on a 486 machine when I was like 12. Think I watched my older brother play one on the commodore Amiga a few years earlier too, must have been one of the 1st. Great, forbidden games back then, not sure how they would hold up now. I think this is the same for many of our games from that era however. I think its better to keep the memories of what they were like, then to sully them with these remakes. Never going to live up to our memories from when we were younger.

      2 spent time on a boat, but you might be thinking of Love For Sail, which was number 6 or 7, i forget which.

    Not a chance for $20....
    I remember playing the original at a mates house, guessing the answers to the quiz at the start to prove we were over age.

    Think I'll let this one slide. Will keep the good memories in tact that way.

      I used to do that too - except I'd keep a small notebook with me to write down the right answer in case it came up again.
      That book also had over 6 pages of notes on how to get past the potion check in the first (first, first!) Prince of Persia. "Manual page 8, line 6, word 3, letter 2" M? Zap. E? Zap. A? Whoohoo, that goes in the book!
      Sure, I should be ashamed for pirating it, but getting past that piracy check the first time was emotionally more satisfying than ever finishing the damn game.

    Larry 1 taught me about safe sex, and was a cheap thrill for my 9 year old brain. But i stand by the fact that Larry 3 was the greatest. 2 protagonists, a kick arse game manual, log rides and cannibal lesbians!

      Was that the Passionate Pattie in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals?
      If so, I agree, it was a grand old adventure :)

    Please remake Leather Goddesses of Phobos and include a scratch n' sniff card again. ;-)

    I don't see any reason whatsoever to play this if you've played the original or the VGA remake, and I see no reason for someone new to the franchise to jump in and play it.

    I saw the kickstarter for this and just shook my head. I liked LSL alright when I was 12, but it belonged in an era where the very idea of a game aimed at adults was a tongue-in-cheek and novel concept.

      For sure, games aimed at adults today have a very different impact. I don't think there was any harm or emotional trauma in playing the adult games of the 80s and 90s as a kid, but if I were a kid today and playing, say... Spec Ops: The Line?

      (OK, well, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream was pretty traumatic and I'm pretty sure that was early/mid-90s, so maybe I don't have a case, here.)

      (Edit: OK, I remember Bad Mojo as being a little dark, too. FUN NEW GAME: 'Which games of the 80s and 90s were kinda fucked up and probably shouldn't have been played by children?')

      Last edited 24/07/13 2:04 pm

    As one of the idiots that paid money to fund this game, and having played it just now, all I can say is I hate myself and wish I could punch this Al Lowe guy in the face. I feel like I've really been swindled. I'll probably never support a Kickstarter ever again either.

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