Well, that was quite the interesting detour that RetroRewind took earlier today. Apparently we’re now covering fictional, poorly written and halfassed games as well. But, enough about my creative skills; we’re here to discuss Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work. The year is 1991 and Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards has just been remade and re-released with new up-to-date, modern adventure game stylings. Larry’s last numbered out was Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of Pulsating Pectorals in which Larry finally found the true love of his life on Nontoonyt Island. He also stumbled through a magical temporal schism onto the backlot of Sierra Entertainment becoming, along with Patti, game designers for the company. Their job being to design games based on Larry’s life.
Sometime after this they begin work on Leisure Suit Larry 4, but sometime after this something happens and Patti and Larry part ways. Larry suffers amnesia and gets a job as chief rewinder and sterilizer of the Betamax division of PornProdCorp, a company specializing in semi-pornographic television and video. Patti however goes back to her pianist (hehe) ways and starts working in a summa lounge. That is until she gets visited by the FBI and asked to investigate the possibility of subliminal messages being implanted into music throughout industry. Larry is given the task of tracking down, and secretly taping, three beautiful woman around the country in the hopes of giving them a job (if you know what I mean). Thus begins Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work.
Larry journeys from airport to airport, city to city in search of a woman to host America’s Sexiest Videos. At the start he is given three potential women to
have sex with interview on camera, secretly, in the hopes of finding a overly sexualized hostess. The woman in question are Michelle Milken of New York; Lana Luscious of Atlantic City; and Chi Chi Lambada of Miami. Each location starts with Larry tracking down the woman and ends with him doing some favor for them. For one it involves heavily investing in her finances; for another offering her a green card. Except for the case of Ms. Milken they all end the same way, with some near-sex for Larry followed by complete humiliation and shame. Which is a normal night out for the young Laffer.
After each location Larry visits he slips into a gentle dream about his beloved Patti, which leads into her sections of the story. Passionate Patti swaggers around different cities in search of music industry officials that are poisoning the youth of the nation. And boy does she ever swagger! Her journey takes her to a recording studio for an impromptu piano mix session and later the headquarters for KRAP, a rap-based recording studio. In each location Patti digs up evidence against the music industry and their shenanigans. Then it’s just a short limo ride to her next location, always ending with Patti dozing off and dreaming of a man she has, or would like to screw.
Both of our heroes are heading towards their destiny at this point and neither knows it. Larry boards a plane heading back to his home in Los Angeles, while Patti is informed that as a reward for all the evidence she has acquired she will be performing at the White House. Larry it turns out is not as lucky as his former love, or maybe far luckier. After awaking from a dream aboard his flight Larry finds himself in a plane plummeting towards the ground below. It turns out that the pilot’s union contract expired mid-flight, and being a good union member he was forced to step down as pilot. Larry volunteers to fly the plane, figuring that his years of selling flight simulators door-to-door has given him preternatural skills in the art of flying a plane. It hasn’t. Not at all. Though Larry does has an impressive skills at hitting random buttons in the correct order by sheer luck. He also has a surprising ability to land a plane as it turns out.
Emerging from the plane Larry is regarded as a hero and receives a phone call from the President asking him to attend a dinner hosted by the Vice-President. The following Tuesday Larry makes his way into the banquet hall to find his long-lost love, Passionate Patti sitting at a table up front. They embrace and Larry insists she sit at the head table as his date. A sinister force by name of Julius Biggs is also sitting at the head table. The man who is Larry’s true boss and also the nefarious force behind his amnesia and the subject of Patti’s undercover work. A heated argument ensues and Patti is force to shoot Julius with her bra-based projectile weapon, the Hooter Shooter. Patti and Larry are now both regarded as heroes and go on a weekend trip with the Vice-President and his wife to Camp David. The End…for now…
As per our usual starting point I will discuss sound and graphics. This game is another step up in sound from Leisure Suit Larry III with the addition of constant music throughout the game. The sound effect system is also significantly less intrusive compared to previous Larry games. The user interface (UI) has also jumped forward by leaps some might say. I however am not one of those people. The UI for LSL5 (hey, that vaguely, sort of rhymes!) is identical to that of the remake to Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards and other classic adventure games of Sierra Entertainment at the time. Instead of typing in commands you choose from a series of actions such as walk, look, grab/use, unzip, and your inventory items. As a kid I loved this system and even hailed LSL5 as one of my favorite Larry games. However, as an adult I find the system jarring as I edge closer to the end of my week-long Larry Laffer bingeing session. I grew very used to entering a new scene each game and then typing in “Look” to see how Al Lowe decided to describe this particular location. After three straight days of that it felt cumbersome to suddenly have to scroll through a series of actions and then to click to find out the same info. At this point I would certainly say that I’m a believer in adventure games using a text parser and that I’m looking forward to their triumphant return.
This also was the first Leisure Suit Larry game that I have played this week where I experienced glitches and random game crashes. (Something I’m sincerely worried about with LSL6 seeing as in my life I’ve never finished the game due to an inability to keep it running.) The glitch which I had to deal with on several occasions was during lengthy conversations the text would suddenly scroll through so rapidly that I was never sure how much dialogue I missed. A convenient save always solved the problem, but sadly my save skills were not always up to snuff.
A welcome, although oddly disappointing, change with this game is Larry and Patti’s inability to die or be put in no-win situations. No matter what you do the characters cannot die and it’s completely impossible to miss an item rendering the game incapable of being finished. As much as it was nice to not have to worry so much about having multiple saves, it still felt a bit too easy at time and in a way that put a damper on the situation. LSL5 also felt short when compared to the broad island hopping journeys in Leisure Suit Larry II and III.My only gripe with the story would have to be the complete lack of care on Patti’s part for Larry up until the ending. What happened to them during what would have been Leisure Suit Larry 4 that caused their relationship to come undone? Why is it that Larry spends everyday dreaming of Patti, but Larry never crosses Patti’s mind for a single moment of the game? These are the questions I’m left with upon finishing the game that I know I will never have answered since Patti doesn’t appear in any more Larry games from this point out. Al Lowe, Joshua Mandel, Paul Trowe, or anyone “in the know” who may be reading this, please answer this for me so I can sleep again. (Ok, it’s not that big of a worry, but I’m a whore for continuity and I find this highly disconcerting.)
Before I head off, allow me to remind you to donate to the Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded Kickstarter campaign. If you love Larry Laffer the way I do, or even if you just want to keep things platonic, you should donate and get Larry the game he deserves. The campaign ends in six days and the fellas at Replay Games would be most appreciative I’m sure. They have even opened up a PayPal account for you to donate directly if you wish it, so keep that in mind.
Tomorrow we will return for the second to last in our RetroReplay tales of Larry Laffer with Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!.