Thursday, 9 February 2012

Game 10: Leisure Suit Larry I - Skanks for Nothing

Larry Laffer Journal Entry 1: “Oh yeah, I am totally going to get laid! Not only that, but this chick is seriously hot! It seems my decision to finally reveal to the world my wares is paying dividends, and now the ladies just can’t get enough of me. This rocking evening started at Lefty’s Bar, where I sank a few drinks before making my way into the..ahem…establishment next door. I distracted the pimp with some nasty porn which gave me the opportunity to shed my virginity with the local hooker. Unfortunately she was a bit skanky and I didn’t want to waste my performance when other more gorgeous women are out there waiting for me. It’s a good thing too as I seduced a blonde bombshell named Fawn at the disco about thirty minutes later. I knew she had to be mine as soon as I saw the eight other guys obsessing over her, and she was clearly unprepared for my natural charm, good looks and…well…presents. It only took a rose, a box of candy and a diamond ring and she was all over me on the dance floor! She told me she wants to make wild, passionate love to me, but only once we get married. Needless to say, we were at the chapel about two minutes later and now the beautiful Fawn is my wife! Now it’s time to...um…consummate the marriage, if only I could find some champagne…

After the painful experience that was Uninvited, the more stress-free and hysterical Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards is a fantastic change of scene. I’ve played for two and a half hours so far and have racked up 78 points out of a possible 222 without too much trouble. Before I continue, I should point out that I have played the game previously, but I must have been about 12 at the time, and didn’t get very far due to the adult nature of the puzzles. I remember very little at all, which is why I haven’t been able to rip through any of it this time around. The first thing to discuss is the age verification system that comes up every time you start the game. Al Lowe figured he would ask five randomised questions that he presumed only adults would know the answers to, in an attempt to stop children from playing what is a very adult themed game. Unfortunately, this little quiz didn’t just make it difficult for kids to run Larry all over town trying to have sex with every woman he can find, it also acted as a form of racial selection. While I did manage to pass the test on my first attempt (you can get one question wrong out of six), it wasn’t without a couple of educated guesses (I’m Australian after all). A lot of the answers would only be known by Americans, and these days you’d also need to be at least well into your thirties to be able to breeze through it. Thankfully Google makes the whole thing obsolete today and you can skip it by pressing Ctrl + X.


So let me get this straight. If I don't know the answer to this, then I'm not an adult!

With that out of the way, I began my quest to relieve the suffering Larry of his virgin condition. Right from the start, the jokes come thick and fast, and just about every item you look at results in a humorous quip, often at Larry’s expense. I can only imagine how much of the game’s humour would have gone straight over my head as a kid, as it’s mostly of a sexual nature. Given how upfront this aspect of the game is, it’s not surprising that Leisure Suit Larry caused so much controversy when it was released. In fact, I very nearly didn’t solve one of the first puzzles in the game, just because I didn’t consider that the game could possibly be that scandalous. There’s a totally smashed dude lying in the hallway of Lefty’s Bar. If you try to talk to him, he slurs out some pickup line, but is totally incapable of getting up. If you try to “help the man”, the game tells you that he is beyond help, but very thirsty. My immediate reaction was try to get some water for the poor sod, but I had no form of container to get any from the bathroom, and Lefty certainly wasn't going to serve me any. Eventually I sat down at the bar and ordered some drinks for myself, only to find that Larry put a shot of whiskey in the inventory rather than drinking it. Still not really thinking that the game could possibly reward the player for offering alcohol to a raging drunk, I typed in “give whiskey to man”. Yep, he knocked it back and gave me a TV remote control for my trouble. You gotta love the eighties!


I feel like a better person you know. Like I really helped someone in their time of need.

That TV remote allowed me to distract the pimp in the brothel next door by changing the channel to a porn station while I moved on straight past him. Upstairs was a hooker lying on the bed, waiting for Larry to get what she thinks he paid for! I never intended to make Larry have sex with her, as I recall reading somewhere that you catch an STD if you do so unprotected, but for the sake of reviewing the game properly (i.e. as a man there’s absolutely no way I could not watch it happen at least once), I made it happen. It’s testament to the genius of Al Lowe that watching a black box with the word censored written across it simulate the motions of sex is both highly suggestive and hilarious. Anyway, I left the hooker smoking a cigarette and ignoring me entirely, and restored to a prior save game, determined that the Larry I play would have a better first experience, not to mention survive to talk about it. I picked up the box of candy from her room, which would later be given to Fawn, and left by the window. It’s here that I came across the first thing that has stumped me. I can see a bottle of pills in the next window along, but I can’t see any way to reach it. Every attempt results in Larry falling to his death, so I can only imagine I’ll find something to help me retrieve it later in the game.


Censored censored censored. Censored censored!!!

I do have a question for the readers as it’s one that won’t affect my ability to get through the game (at least I don’t think it will). After picking up the rose, the ring, the candy and a hammer from Lefty’s Bar and its surroundings, the only option available to me that I could see was to holler a cab. I found nothing in any of those first few screens that suggested where my next location should be, so since I knew that Larry visits a casino at some point, I told the cab driver to take me there. I believe that was the right thing to do as not only have I won $250 on blackjack (by saving and restoring admittedly), I also found a pass to the disco, which is where I came across Fawn. Is there anyone or anything that gives you the idea of going to the casino in those first screens? I can’t imagine you’d just be expected to guess this, but I could be wrong. Or perhaps by guessing the casino I’ve skipped part of the game?! Anyway, as soon as I met Fawn at the disco, the game has moved extremely quickly. After all my lame pickup lines failed to get her to sleep with me, she hinted at how much she loves presents. I just happened to have a few nice items on me, and she willingly accepted my offer to dance once they were in her possession. The dance scene has to be seen to be believed so I won’t even try to describe the awesomeness.


Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around...

I have to admit that I was very surprised at what happened next! Of course it wouldn’t make sense that Larry would reach fourth base so early in the game (if you ignore the possibility of the skanky hooker), so I kept expecting Fawn to disappear with the presents and never show up again. Instead, she met me at the chapel where we got married in a sidesplittingly routine service, and now the two of us have made our way to the honeymoon suite of the casino and are preparing to get down and dirty. Of course I’m still expecting everything to go wrong and for Larry to have to start looking elsewhere, and Fawn’s request for champagne seems to be yet another delaying tactic that will most likely lead to another. Turning on the radio in the suite results in a commercial advertising wine delivery with a number to call, but the only phone I’ve seen to this point has chewing gum stuck in the coin slot. When I finish this post, I’ll be trying to find another phone elsewhere in the game, but I have a feeling I’ll be required to take a cab to find one. Leisure Suit Larry is an immensely entertaining adventure game so far, filled with laugh inducing details and sexy banter that has me wanting more. I simply can’t concentrate on writing anymore while Fawn is waiting for Larry on that bed. It’s my duty to get the little guy the action he so obviously deserves!


Who can blame you babe. You never really stood a chance!

26 comments:

  1. Great to know the fun still holds up! I just love how those AGI graphics add to the comedy; in fact I've always preferred them to the more stylized VGA version. As for the possible destinations, I'm going out on a limb here but did you try asking the cab driver?

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  2. Saying it in code and as a riddle:

    Puneyrf unq n irel tbbq uvag: gurer’f fgvyy n cynpr jnvgvat sbe lbh gb fngvfsl nyy lbhe arrqf. Nyfb, vg zvtug or ernyyl funec abg gb ehfu gbb fbba onpx gb Snja, fb gnxr lbhe gvzr gb rkcyber gur arj frggvat naq gb nez lbhefrys sbe gur shgher. Urycvat n crefba va arrq zvtug pbzr va unaql, vs lbh xabj gur evtug cbvfba.

    BTW, if a somewhat gruesome easter egg interests you, remember to lick the prostitute (but save first).

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  3. I thought the readers of this blog might like to know about a new graphic adventure that is coming out and is building funding right now: arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2012/02/double-fine-seeks-to-cut-out-publishers-with-kickstarter-funded-adventure.ars

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    1. Well that turned out awesome... glad to see they got the recognition and support they deserve http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/66710809/double-fine-adventure

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  4. Back in the 80's, every magazine and newspaper knew about the scandal with Wilbur Mills and Fanne. Now days, it has seemed to have faded from memory. It just like how a game about sexual conquest used questions from real life sexual scandals.

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    1. Sorry, what scandal? For those of us who are younger?

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    2. Isn't this what Google was designed for? ;)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilbur_Mills#Scandal_and_retirement

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    3. OH. I thought it was related to the game itself for some reason, or the cover of Softporn adventure.

      It is interesting to see how many women are involved with early adventure games: I wonder how gaming came to be male dominated for so long?

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    4. Same way as Western religious hierarchies, I expect: when the community is small, everyone's help is necessary to keep it alive; once the community gets bigger and things become more hierarchical, men find excuses to grab power.

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  5. @Canageek: This is actually very good news and I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. I still can't understand why publishers shun adventure games so much these days! Didn't the LucasArts classics make much money? Or has the internet made playing puzzle based games obsolete as walkthroughs are just too tempting? Or maybe the new generation of gamers just can't be stuffed using their brains and would prefer to just shoot at everything that moves? Is it the fault of consoles that generally dumb everything down for a mass audience?

    Thoughts?

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    1. As I recall profits fell and fell until most companies moved to RPGs and FPS games. I think the same market segment is now taken by action-adventure games like Beyond Good and Evil and Zelda. They still have puzzles and such, but with a different interface.

      Also people got sick of 'carry item A to location B' puzzles.

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    2. I really don't think we've escaped the "carry item A to location B" puzzles. If anything, it's RPGs and FPS games that are to blame for that. I love Bethesda games, but the likes Morrowind and Oblivion are really courier simulations that include hitting things on the way. There's no real brain power needed to complete them. Just stamina and perseverance!

      Adventure games are based around actual problem solving and quality stories (at least good ones are) so it's sad to see that only a minority of gamers are interested in that these days.

      Oh well...it's not like I need any more games on the list! ;)

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    3. @The Trickster: I think all of those factors played a part, but there were signs of the downfall even before consoles or the Internet entered the picture. The rise of the graphics card and the spectacle brought about by 3D acceleration helped lure people away from the more cerebral entertainment that had been the norm since the early days. With the technology now up to snuff the nature of PC entertainment changed, and the masses decided they preferred shooting stuff above pretty much anything else. The migration to twitchy gameplay affected other genres - witness the currently nearly niche status of the once popular TBS market. Sales number notwithstanding, there are still quality adventures being made, and of course there's the Interactive Fiction community, which has produced some real adventuring gems over the last decade or so.

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    4. @Charles I'm not sure about your 'twitchy' nature: The big genres right now:
      FPS (Twitchy, I agree)
      RTS Twitchy, but takes a lot of planning, strategy, etc-- I wouldn't exactly call it mindless. I prefer TBS myself, but man, you have to be able to do 7 things at once to be good at RTS. I mean, there are people who watch pro replayes of Starcraft matches, map out how long each unit takes do under a second, plan entire matches in advance. I would definetly put RTS into the 'cerebral' category.

      RPG: Have you played some modern RPGs? Sure, there are action ones like Skyrim, but there are a lot of Final Fantasy style RPGs that have playtimes longer then every game on this blog so far. Take games like oh, Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics Advance where I spend almost as long tweaking my units gear as I do in battle (or Ogre Battle 64 where I would spend LONGER doing admin then in battle!)

      I think the 2d adventure game died, because people wanted 3d. But I think games like Zelda have replaced it: There is a lot of puzzle solving of various types in them. Heck, the boss fights in the last couple Zelda games have been more puzzle then fight for the most part. The real trick is figuring out the bosses weakpoint, then doing that 3 times. I'm sure there are other examples of modern "action" games that are really adventure games that have action elements.

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    5. @The Trickster No we haven't, and yes, a number of Skyrim's puzzles were laughably easy. However, there have been some challenging ones. The three that come to mind are:

      Svefg qhatrba (naq birehfrq nsgre gung fnqyl) lbh trg n 'pynj' naq gur uvag gung lbh ubyq gur nafjre va gur cnyz bs lbhe unaq. Lbh pbzr gb n qbbe jvgu 3 evatf bs flzobyf naq n xrlubyr. Vg gbbx zr sberire naq n uvag sebz zl oebgure gb trg gung vs lbh tb gb lbhe vairagbel naq hfr gur 'ybbx ng vgrz' srngher lbh pna frr guerr flzobyf ba gur vafvqr bs gur pynj 'unaq'.

      Yngre qhatrba lbh svaq 3 ebgngvat boryvfxf jvgu flzobyf ba gurz, bs gur glcr bsgra hfrq va chmmyrf. Lbh nyfb svaq n obbx arneol (abg hapbzzba va qhatrbaf, naq abg n havdhr obbx). Gur gevpx vf gung vs lbh ernq gur obbx rnpu puncgre bcraf jvgu n ersrerapr gb na navzny, juvpu ner gur flzobyf ba gur cvyynef. Lbh unir gb chg gurz va beqre bs gur puncgref. Frrzf cerggl nqiragher tnzr-chmmyr gb zr!

      Gur svany bar (Naq gur bayl bar V'ir hfrq n jvxv ba) vf lbh svaq n ebbz jvgu 4 nypbirf: 3 jvgu cvyynef, naq bar jvgu n guebar. Lbh nyfb svaq n obbx ba n qrnq zna, xvyyrq ol gur genc ba gur qbbe. Vg pbagnvaf n qrfpevcgvba bs ubj gur havirefr fubhyq or: Junyr va gur bprna, fanxr va gur rnegu, rntyr va gur fxl, zna ba uvf guebar. V gevrq gur gevpx sebz nobir, chggvat gurz va beqre zragvbarq ol gur obbx, gura erirefr beqre, chggvat gur qrnq nqiraghere ba gur guebar, rgp. Svanyyl V purngrq naq ybbxrq vg hc: Gurer vf bar nypbir jvgu cynagf tebjvat nebhaq vg (rnegu), bar jvgu jngre gevpxyvat qbja gur onpx jnyy (jngre), naq bar jvgu fxl pneivatf be fbzrguvat yvxr gung. V sryg fghcvq nsgre ybbxvat gung hc, naq erfbyirq gb hfr gur jvxv yrff nsgre gung.

      Admittedly, those are the only challanging puzzles I've encountered in almost 100 hours of playtime (Oh, and one other then I never figured out, but finally resorted to brute forcing as I had one symbol and guessed it would have 1 of each), however given then Skyrim HAS that type of puzzles I don't see any reason they couldn't have MORE of them: This shows that the genre isn't anti-puzzle, just that game is.

      One of the RPGs I really liked, Golden Sun, for the Gameboy Advance, had a lot of rolling log and jumping stone type puzzles. (You go into room A, where you can push a bunch of logs around, but only back and forth in straight lines. Get them into an arrangement that allows you to walk across the room when you get to entrance B. --Think Sokoban but with rolling logs)
      Even more evilly they would often have an obvious 'advance the game' solution to keep you from getting frustrated, then a 'get to the treasure chest' solution that was more challenging...not to mention getting to the 'advance to the next area from the chest' solution didn't have to be simple either.

      My brother (who is more into these type of games then me) also informs me that the Uncharted series, while being an FPS, has lots of great puzzles (If you don't know, it is one of the PS3's flagship games) and Heavy Rain was a recent, highly successful adventure game.

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    6. Also: I think this is one of the reasons the adventure game died off: http://www.oldmanmurray.com/features/77.html

      Actually, Crontendo had a history of adventure games, when they were at their height, when they died, and some of the reasons behind it. As I recall, part of it was in the golden age of adventure games everyone agreed which games were great, people copied them and made more good games, etc.

      As time went on and the industry broadened out gamers disagreed on which games were 'real' adventure games and developed love-hate relationships with them: Myst is an example that comes to mind, and many of the one after that. This fragmented the community and really cut into the profits of the studios. You can watch the episodes at:

      http://chrontendo.blogspot.com/2010/08/episode-31.html and http://chrontendo.blogspot.com/2010/09/blasters-and-mastering-thereof.html

      I'm downloading them now and may add more commentary once I've rewatched them. I highly recommend Chrontendo to fans of this blog: It is how I found The CRPG Addict, and thus this blog..

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    7. @Canageek: I see all your points, and in fact RTS and action-adventure are very dear genres to me (in the case of the former, I cut my teeth on the phenomenal Dune 2 back in the day and played most of the salient titles in the genre -well, except maybe the latest C&C entries which reportedly were awful); however while RTS are definitely more "cerebral" than the typical shooter, it's also clear that all things being equal the player who's faster with the controls and is quicker on his feet has a definite advantage. In fact I find that as the genre evolved it tended to favor the ultra-fast player.

      I agree that puzzle-action adventures are generally awesome - I've enjoyed them since I had the pleasure of playing the masterpiece that was the original Metal Gear for the MSX2 at an early age. The genre spawned a few of my favorite games of all time, like Alone in the Dark and the first Tomb Raider (not the cheesed up Anniversary remake); they were a total triumph in terms of atmosphere, exploration and general wonder, and make no mistake that I do not hesitate in calling them "adventures". I've been following with interest the Uncharted series, but I´m unsure about Heavy Rain - its spiritual precursor, Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy did little for me.

      At the end of the day, however, for this occassional wargamer none of those examples scratches the more relaxed, cerebral itch like a good old point 'n click or a first person adventure... and yes, I include First Person adventures as I'm very fond of them, though I recall how Myst was a love/hate thing when it came out; PC Gamer infamously never got the Miller brothers and would never let slip any opportunity to bash the games -probably because they were too frustrated that they couldn't blow up all those beautiful vistas and contraptions with a rocket launcher ;-)

      (As for RPGs, while I do prefer turn-based, tactical combat (Spiderweb's titles usually hit the spot) I do like action when it's done right. Skyrim's combat model is wretched, but I find the game interesting enough -certainly several steps above Oblivion-. In general, though, I think Piranha Bytes' Gothic is probably as good as action RPGs come: I prefer a more controlled storytelling and reactive world than the sandboxy experience the TES series offers. JRPGs have that, but they usually put me off for other reasons).

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  6. You don't play say, Wii or gamecube games do you? There are quite a few puzzles and such in them. Ditto in Golden Sun style RPGs where there will be a number of block and log based puzzles, which I usually find more interesting then pixel hunting and such.

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  7. No, I admit that I've never actually owned a console of any type (therefore any comments I make about them can and probably should be ignored).

    I just want to clarify that I'm not in any way suggesting that adventure games are the best games out there. All genres, including FPS' and RPGs, have numerous examples of awesomeness. It just saddens me that the slower paced, more thought provoking, story based games don't get funding today.

    Independents (think Machinarium, which took seven Czech designers three years to develop) and publicly funded adventure games seems to be the future for the genre.

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  8. I don't see how walkthroughs online really should hurt sale of a game (although hint books probably took a dive, which is probably why they're more graphics heavy then they need to be).

    "It just saddens me that the slower paced, more thought provoking, story based games don't get funding today." This isn't only true for adventure games. Any turn based or slow paced game seems to be out shined (when it comes to sales) compared to action games and FPS. Since these games aren't where the money is, most developers aren't going to spend the time to create games in this vein. Especially since these games are probably the hardest type to balance and appeal to the audience that remains actively searching for these games.

    I've found myself ignoring nearly every new release (not solely because I can wait for the price to drop) as they don't appeal to me as greatly as older games, which is another reason I'm enjoying this and CRPG Addict's blog. It lets me enjoy them without having to spend the time for each one.

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  9. I haven’t really followed the ”main stream” game industry for a decade, but one issue that has probably always hindered the sale of adventure games has been their low replayability factor: when you’ve finished it once, there’s really no point returning to it for a while. Thus, if a gamer has to choose between King’s Quest XXXXV and Sims 34 (and enjoys both genres), he/she will probably use his/her last coins for the latter, because of the better playing time/price-relation – and low sales mean less adventure games.

    That said, I think that adventure games might have a future in free/shareware. At least text-based interactive fiction community is thriving and has probably even surpassed the quality of best commercial IF titles of the past. Graphical adventure games are a bit more difficult to make and hence there’s less going on in that sector, but when you look at something like the free King’s Quest 2 remake, which is miles ahead of the original (and is actually a completely diffe-rent game with a lot more detailed plot and would therefore be a very good addition to the list of games to be played…) you can see there’s potential even for a graphical adventure community.

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  10. Alright, I'm going back to listen to the Chrontendo episode on the end of adventure games. It notes that 2D graphic adventures were doing really well from 94-95, but that Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective foreshadowed the end with its use of Full Motion Video. Then came Myst. Man I remember when that came out. It was amazing. I disagree with this characterization of it as 'plotless' though.

    Then came Phantasmagoria which tied to push the limits by replacing sprits with digitized actors, but led to baddd digitized acting.

    I must say: Gabrial Knight: The Beast Within looks pretty good! Must have been expensive to make the game though. There was a lot of experimentation around this time with video, clamation, and other things. I don't see any reason you can't make an adventure game that looks just as good as Skyrim. For example: Grim Fandango looked great for 1998.

    He then makes the point that most people thing Grim Fandango was the last great adventure game, and that during the Day of the Tentacle era everyone agreed that the top games in the feild were great games. However, as time went on fans grew fractious and no one could agree on if they liked or hated the latest Gabriel Knight game or Myst game. As game costs in all fields rose the market adventure games were selling to didn't, thus, no more big-budget adventure games.

    Example: Adventure games haven't stopped being created. How many games can you name that have come out recently? Anyone remember The Longest Journey (1999)? Syberia (2002)? Anyone played the new Sam & Max and Monkey Island games from Telltale games? Machenarium (sp?)?

    Adventure games are bigggg money in Japan still, but not here; People moved away from then after the 90s, moving to other games. It sounds like what killed it was the audience moving away in response to bad or controversial games, rising costs and diminishing returns.

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    1. Now more on my opinion: I think people moved more into the action-adventure genre. When you have static adventure games there is really a limit on the type of puzzle you can put in: How many have we seen in all the adventure games so far?

      Carry object A to point B.
      Talk to person C
      Decode riddle or cypher D.

      In action-adventure you can have all of these (Though cyphers have fallen by the wayside as they are risky and tend to break people out of the game: Also they make translating the game to other languages very challenging). Really I think the adventure game hasn't died: Just the 2D version of it has.
      Really, I'd call The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time an adventure game.
      Get items to solve puzzles? You get bombs and have to figure out how to use them to move objects, open passages, etc. Talk to NPCs? Various people give you clues how to advance. Most of the dungeons are filled with puzzles (Rasing and lowering water levels, block pushing, gem lighting, etc)

      I keep going back to Zelda as I don't really play many computer games, and it fits the category quite nicely. Even the freaking bosses are mostly puzzles. I bet there are other games out there that are in large part adventure games, just with platforming or action elements.

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  11. Walk between the drunk's legs, Trickster. It's hilarious.

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  12. I came into this expecting to hate the game for being raunchy and sexist. I am laughing in spite of myself.

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    1. Yea, at least there early Larry-games were quite innocent and more about making fun of the protagonist.

      And nice to see the project is progressing! 2012 was a year of many innovations coming from Trickster himself and from the readers of the blog. Some of them fizzled away quickly and some became permanent part of the blog's life.

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