Welcome back to RetroRewind. Yesterday we brought you back to the origins of Larry Laffer in Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. Now, we’re taking you back to 1988, or from Larry’s perspective, roughly a few days after the end of Larry’s last adventure. Larry fell madly in bed with the lovely Eve after stumbling into her penthouse suit at the aptly named, Casino. After a brilliant night of passion, watched on by Ken Williams, Larry decided to move into Eve’s apartment in Los Angeles. What prompted Larry to do this? Who knows and who cares? Well actually it appears Eve cared, because the moment the game starts she kicks Larry out of her house and leaves him in the street. Thus Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking For Love (In Several Wrong Places) begins!
For those who do not know, Leisure Suit Larry 2 is one of the more criticized games of the Larry saga. “Sierra intentionally toned down the titular character’s sexual escapades for the sequel. According to series creator Al Lowe, this lack of Leisure Suit Larry’s trademark humor is an oft-cited criticism of the game.” (Source) During his Reddit AMA Al Lowe was asked by user MrOslo “If you get to remake all the Larry games, which one are you looking most forward to working on?” Lowe responded back with “Larry 2 because it had the most wrong with it. There is a lot of stuff to be fixed and i know i can make it better. There were dead ends and design flaws that im not proud of. It will be great to eliminate the defects and enhance the rest.” After having replayed the game for the first time since I was a kid, I would have to agree, but more on that later.
After being dumped by Eve, Larry begins his journey around the city of Los Angeles in what could be described as an early an predecessor of the now common open world games. Los Angeles is composed of roughly 22 individual screens spread across a 4×4 grid, with outlying screens for some. Through Larry’s initial journey around L.A. you can go anywhere and do most anything at anytime and in any order. You finally finish with L.A. when you “win” a date with Bachelorette Barbara Bimbo and then win the grand prize in the lottery. Speaking of which, has anyone else ever read Barbara Bimbo’s voice as a female Christopher Walken? No, I’m the only one whose brain made that strange decision? Ok fine, carrying on… From there Larry can continue journeying around L.A., ultimately making his way to a music store for a case of mistaken identity. This is where things get interesting; after that you can simply board the cruise ship and carry on with the game. The issue with that degree of open world gaming is that it is entirely possible to board the cruise without three of the essential items to continue on with the game. It is also likely you will not realize this until well after you saved over your last save back in L.A. Definitely a frustrating issue with the game.
Some shenanigans involving Larry’s previous case of mistaken identity and the KGB (That’s the state security police (1954–91) of the former USSR for you youngsters) intense search for him lead Larry to abandon ship and cast off onto a deserted island. Oh wait, did I say deserted? No, what I meant to say was a high-end beach resort with multiple amenities and a lush vibrant jungle (fuck you jungle). On the island is also a lovely nude beach, but unless you want to interrogated by the KGB you’ll only go there to pick up some bikini bottoms.
Further shenaniganerry ensues and Larry ends up at the island’s local airport. A bomb threat and some brilliant dark airline-related jokes that would get you shot on sight in modern airports later and Larry is skydiving his way down to Nontoonyt Island. (That’s None Tonight Island for those who don’t understand wordplay.) There Larry meets the above topples woman, the new love of his life, Kalalau. Well he meets her after some daring acrobatics involving a boa constrictor, some quick sand, and a piranha infested river. For those who are unaware, the Leisure Suit Larry are at their heart a love story. Sure Larry’s express goal is to get laid, but up to this point he has most passionately pursued only woman he feels he loves. Larry decides he is to marry this woman, but first she and her father, the chief, inform him that he must defeat the evil Dr. Nonookee (ha! I see what you did there.) and retake the island for the people of Nontoonyt Island. You see, the people of Nontoonyt Island dream of turning their small island into a huge tourist trap owned by a multinational conglomerate. A reasonable goal for any small island tribe.
Larry makes his way across the island (all five screens of it) and scales both a glacier and volcano, before making his way down into Dr. Nonookee sort-of secret lair. From this point on, oh you know, let’s have Larry explain the rest of the story:
Larry then marries the beautiful Kalalau (another marriage?); is bestowed youth and hair by the village witch doctor; and then frolics naked, happy, and free with his wife on the beach. The End?
When I look back on my experiences playing Leisure Suit Larry games I tend to remember LSL2 first and foremost. At least I thought I had, now it appears I had little to no memory of the game. I wholeheartedly love the game and think that it’s a worth Larry sequel, however as the above quote stated: it really lost quite a bit of the original’s humor. There is still plenty of humor to be found, but a lot of the raunchiness that was the original’s trademark was lost in favor of James Bond’esque spy/pun humor.
The graphics are a huge step-up from the original, with Larry taking on a more defined shape that’s puts him on track to become the Larry we all know and love. The sounds are improved as well, which leads to far fewer cases of prolonged silence; although that is still frequent. The gameplay still has the familiar parser for typing in commands, but now with the added bonus of being able to move around with your mouse. While I grew up on point and click games I still found myself using the keyboard for movement, often forgetting that I could even use the mouse.
I only have two real gripes with the game. First off, the insane number of ways you can die. This was one of my favorite things as a kid, but as an adult it was mind-numbing. Don’t get me wrong, just like the original they were creative and interesting, but after my fifth attempt to stop in the exact right spot to start to “swing from vine” across the river only to walk one pixel too far into the river I lost it. Still, not at all a deal breaker. My other issue lies with my earlier outburst about the jungle. This also goes for the waiting area of the restaurant on the first island. It felt more like I was watching an extended loading screen than I was actually playing and taking in a story or humor. I am usually not bothered by loading screens, but these segments just bored me to tears.
Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking For Love (In Several Wrong Places) is still an awesome game, and a great part of the Leisure Suit Larry saga. Hopefully the Kickstarter campaign for Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded does well enough that it warrants a remake of LSL2. Speaking of which, have you donated to the campaign yet? Oh you haven’t? Well, then try this handy link right hereand give to the lovable Larry Laffer.