Sunday, 10 June 2012

Game 19: Leisure Suit Larry 2 - Blue Stained Clues

Larry Laffer Journal Entry 4: “While hanging from a tree branch after diving out of a plane might not seem like a great form of relaxation, I’ve decided to take the opportunity to rest my nerves and write this journal entry before some KGB agent chases after me once again. While I thought I’d reached the end of my ordeal when I finally reached the airport by disguising myself as a woman, the flight and airport itself turned out to be just as stressful. The queues were enough to drive me insane, and I was forced to take drastic action (i.e. a bomb threat) to be able to get my ticket on time. I also nearly died when the food I purchased at a snack bar contained a bobby pin in it, but I was sure glad it did once I was on the plane. That bobby pin turned out to be exactly what I needed to prematurely exit the plane, and with the parachute I received as travel insurance on, I jumped to freedom! I have no idea where I am right now, nor do I know if I’m going to be able to get out of this tree, but I might just stay here a little bit longer...”


My last session ended with me finally getting past the agents, disguised as a woman!

At the end of my last post, I’d just managed to get past the KGB agents on the beach by using my powers of disguise to appear as a bikini clad woman. It had been a real challenge to get to that point, mostly due to some parser issues that had made increasing my bust more challenging than it really is in modern times. I was pretty happy to be able to move on from this section of the game, and figured the next screen would be the airport that the game kept hinting should be my next destination. As it turned out, I wasn’t quite out of the woods yet (so to speak), and found myself confronted by what can only be described as an Al Lowe produced intentional Sierra nightmare. A lengthy cliff face that required maneuvering Larry around a tight and at times unseen path!


Aaahhhhh...it's a Sierra engine nightmare!

Yet just as I was making a mental note to punish Larry 2 for making things unnecessarily challenging for the player, it became apparent that this section was not what it initially appeared to be. Of course getting around the path without falling off is next to impossible with Sierra’s inadequate depth perspective, even with the new shiny SCI engine, but when I fell off, I didn’t have to restore. Larry hung on to the edge and pulled himself back up. Not only that, I noticed after a couple of near death experiences that I was actually gaining points each time I fell!  That seemed pretty strange to me, as I couldn’t understand why the game would reward the player for what is really a failed attempt to surpass an obstacle. Me being me, I decided to find out how many times I could fall off the path, and therefore how many points I could get, before I finally plummeted to my death.


400 points! Surely I've found the biggest game bug in history! My readers will bow down to my awesomeness! Mwahahaha.....

I’d entered that screen with 240 points. I watched that total go up to 250 and then 260 and then 270 and then...well, what exactly was going here?! Hmmmm...had I stumbled upon (excuse the pun) a bug in the game that allowed me to gain an infinite amount of points? Or was I merely being toyed with and about to become the butt of an Al Lowe joke. I figured the latter was more likely, but I fell off that edge a total of 160 times before deciding I wasn’t willing to waste any more time. With 400 points to my name, I made my way around the path, falling a few more times accidentally, before finally leaving the screen. I had to laugh out loud when a message popped up saying “(By the way, you didn’t think you were going to keep all those free points did you?)” What this all shows is just how well Mr Lowe understood his audience. He knew I would have to see how many points I could get, despite how stupid it was for the game to hand them out for my own inadequacies. Classic moment!


Um...well...no of course not! I'm not at idiot! (ahem)

On leaving the cliff face behind, I now found myself at the airport, but as soon as I arrived there, the military captured me as they “don’t want no cross-dressers hanging around our airport!” Since I wasn’t able to change back into my suit on the cliff face, I soon figured out I had to do it during a small pause that occurs after leaving the cliff and before entering the airport screen. It might sound like a tough puzzle, but it was actually pretty obvious as there was no other solution possible. Anyway, now I was back in my suit, the military left me alone, but they weren’t the only characters on the screen I needed to avoid. After approaching the two dancing “natives” that were standing in front of the airport entrance, it was revealed they were also KGB agents, and I was once again faced with a game over screen. While it made absolutely no sense whatsoever, giving the flower I found in the jungle caused the agents to wander off, confused by the beauty of the flower due to their navel gazing, hippy tendencies. This puzzle was not difficult to solve, as I really didn’t have much in my inventory to utilise, but I imagine it would have caused a major headache if I hadn’t stumbled across the flower in the jungle on about my tenth venture through there.


Worst..KGB...agents...ever!

The airport section of the game clearly gave Al Lowe a perfect scene to use his everyday life style humour to full effect. Eager to depart the island as soon as I could, I stood in line to purchase a flight ticket. However, I soon realised that no matter which line I stood in, that would be the only one that would never get shorter. I tried pushing in and even acting like I was going to get in one line, before quickly jumping into another one. I even tried going straight to the front of the line before having everyone abuse me and telling to go to the back of the queue like everyone else! It’s one of those great Sierra moments where half of you is laughing at the genius of it while the other half is madly trying to figure out how to solve the issue. Unfortunately, I could see no way to solve it at this stage, so I decided to investigate the rest of the airport.


We all know this scenario well enough. Thankfully these days I travel business class.

The first place I found was yet another barber, once again looking identical to every other barber in the game. This time however the barber was extremely familiar, being a girl in a pink dress with blonde plats. My thoughts were confirmed when Rosella asked me whether I’d played King’s Quest IV yet, making this another example of Sierra’s clever in-game marketing ploys. I sat down to see what she was going to do with my constant hair predicament. The end result was that I now had exactly the same hair, complete with bald patch and receding hairline, which I began the game with. She did however give me a bottle of liquid I could apply to my hair every day to make it “full and rich”. She made a special note to mention that it was highly inflammatory, so I assume its use will be a fiery one rather than an aesthetic one.


It sure is nice to see a familiar face around here!


Hmmm...that sure is a strange thing for Rosella to ask. Oh well...

The next part of my airport investigation took me to the customs section, which I was able to pass by simply revealing my entire inventory. The officer did warn me about carrying a knife onto a plane, but oddly trusted me to drop it prior to boarding. The baggage screening official was asleep, so I had no problem getting through, but with no ticket I had no idea how I was going to board the plane. Past customs I came across a snack bar and a couple of vending machines. One of the vending machines appeared to be broken, but the other offered travel insurance. I put my money in the machine and in return received a parachute. Some insurance that is! It’s here that I focussed my attention on the snack bar attendant, and my troubles began.


I wouldn't dream of it! You can trust me...right?!


One of life's most interesting questions! Perhaps he's played Larry 2 before!

The attendant seemed completely uninterested in talking to me and any attempts to look at the items available failed. If I’ve learnt anything from the game so far, it’s that locations like this one are not there for no reason, so I tried really hard to figure out what its purpose was. I noticed a sign on the wall which strangely read “MENU Today only: Blue P ate Special $1.00”.  Notice the strange spelling mistake there. I figured it was supposed to say Plate rather than P ate, but couldn’t understand why. Typing “look at blue plate” or “look at blue pate” both resulted in “It doesn’t look interesting.” I thought I’d try “buy blue pate” and “buy blue plate”, but both of those resulted in “There’s nothing worth buying here.” OK, it looked to me as though this snack bar really was just a red herring this time, so I moved on.


There's no way in hell this snack bar could be there for no reason!

I made my way to the boarding gate, and was unsurprised to find that the official there wouldn’t let me board the plane because I didn’t have a ticket. I did however find a religious pamphlet on the counter which I added to my inventory. I could find nothing else to do there, so I decided to go back to the ticket desk to see if I could somehow solve the queue puzzle. On the way I noticed all the bags move along the conveyor in the baggage scanning section and thought I’d just try picking one up at random. It worked, but after Larry could find nothing interesting in the bag, he put it back. I then stood there for a while , picking up every bag as it came along until finally, I found a bomb!


A what?

That’s right, A BOMB! Instead of returning the bomb to the bag, Larry tries to get out of the airport with it and I figured I knew what its purpose was when he shouts “LOOK OUT, I’VE GOT A BOMB! Get out of here – QUICK!” in the ticket purchasing area, but the queued businessmen pay no attention whatsoever. I assumed I was looking at a restore when the bomb blew up before I could get out the door, but it turned out that was exactly what was supposed to happen. It wasn’t a bomb at all after all that. It was just a large firecracker, and the loud bang was the trigger that caused the queues to disappear. I found this all a bit contrived and unsatisfying, but was happy enough that I was now going to be able to purchase my ticket.


I'm sure there could have been less ridiculous ways to achieve this.

After purchasing the ticket (and enduring a lengthy question and answer session with the girl at the counter), I rushed to the boarding gate and hopped aboard the plane. After being shown to my seat and listening to the flight attendant’s hilariously matter of fact safety instructions, I was subjected to a flow of annoying hair advice by the passenger sitting next to me. If I tried to stand up, I was trapped by food trolleys on either side, another great example of Al Lowe’s love of real life exaggeration jokes. While I was sitting there, I found a sick bag in the seat in front of me, and picked it up. I eventually tried giving the annoying man the pamphlet I’d found at the airport in an attempt to distract him, which worked. Rather strangely, distracting the man allows you to get up without being trapped by trolleys, which is yet another case of contrived puzzle solutions.


Why aren't you laughing? Geeze...tough crowd!

Walking around the plane, it soon became obvious that my goal was to out of the plane. Just as with the cruiser and the island, Larry’s motives often don’t make any sense whatsoever, and I don’t really understand why he would even consider jumping off the plane. Points for anyone that can explain that! Anyway, it was soon evident that the door at the back of the plane was going to be my exit point, and after putting my parachute on, I attempted to open the emergency door. I couldn’t! I tried everything I could possibly think of, but I was unable to unlock the padlock on the red handle. Using the highly flammable liquid on it resulted in me blowing up the plane, and the knife that I’d smuggled onto the flight was of no use either. I looked everywhere on the plane, but came up with nothing. I started to panic!


I guess that would be where I'll be going.

It was at this stage that I remembered that damn snack bar in the airport where I hadn’t been able to do anything. I’d ignored my intuition at the swimming pool on the cruiser which resulted in me missing the bikini, so this time I decided to follow it. I was slightly worried that I might have missed some item on the island, but I figured one of you would have spoken up if that were the case. I restored to the snack bar and tried to make something of it. I must have tried about ten to twenty different commands before I finally stumbled upon “buy food”. Larry then shouted “Gimme one o’ them Blue Plate Specials!” at the woman, who responds with “That’s Blue PATE to you, baldie!” Hang on a second! I tried typing “buy blue plate” and “buy blue pate”, but I was rejected! I restored and tried every variation I could think of, just to see if I’d missed something obvious, but only “buy food” seemed to work. Anyway, she gave me a “pate” of food.


Always the charmer! How can the ladies not respond to this natural quality?

As if that whole experience wasn’t bad enough, I couldn’t pick up the food, so had no other option but to eat it. This resulted in me choking on a bobby pin that was left in the food and dying. OK, so it’s obvious that the bobby pin is what you need, but there’s absolutely no way that you can know it’s there unless you eat it, die, and then restore. I know a few of you have been discussing whether this type of puzzle is reasonable and I have to say this is the absolute worst case I’ve seen. I’m not going to be too critical of it as it was simply a case of restoring, but it does seem a bit harsh. The whole snack bar thing was very badly implemented, so I’ll have to remember that when it comes time to rate the game.


Joking about it doesn't make it any better...or does it?

As expected, having the bobby pin when trying to unlock the emergency door on the plane was exactly what I needed. I was able to unlock and open the door, and then watched as Larry was sucked out and began plummeting to the earth below. It took me a few attempts to pull the parachute string at the right time to land on the island instead of in the water, but I now find myself dangling from a tree branch on what I assume is Dr. Nonookee’s island. This seemed a good time to end my session, particularly as I’m trying to balance my time between exploring what London has to offer and keeping this blog somewhat updated. The fact that I’m still so keen to play the game is testament to its humour and sheer entertainment value, but I don’t think I’ll be able to overlook the obvious flaws in the parser technology and the contrived, forceful approach to storytelling that pushes Larry along.


I'm just gonna hang around here for a bit longer.


Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

23 comments:

  1. I think I speak for all of us, at least all of us with class and taste, when I say; Don't worry about us, explore London. You can update this blog any time. You can't explore London any time.

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  2. Yeah, don't worry about us! We'll twiddle our fingers a bit longer if needed. (Really, I like the blog so much I find myself checking the feed several times a day - and I know I can't be the only one. Don´t feel pressured though! ;-))

    lol, and thanks for the screenshot callout! I guess I'll answer that whenever my story comes up.

    As for LSL2: A couple of good, charming jokes in this segment, a reminder of both how humor can push you through an otherwise inanish plot and just how funny Al Lowe can be... I maintain that humor in videogames has to be one of the trickiest things to pull, even more than horror.

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    1. Well, I'm off to France on Wednesday for a few days, and I'll definitely have no chance to play or write during that period. I'll try to get one more gameplay post (hopefully a Won! post) before I go.

      Thanks for the support guys! I'm back in Aus around the 23rd, so things will get back to normal then.

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  3. I think we with no class and taste will probably agree with Canageek.

    If you wait the plane to land, KGB will catch Larry, so that's probably why he has to jump out (but wait, how does he know that they will come...).

    BTW, did you try to see where the dialogue with the fellow passenger will end up, if you don't give him the pamphlet? (Another death scene there.)

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    1. Yes, the first time I got on the plane, I just sat there talking to the guy until he started putting some dodgy hair growth stuff on my head.

      There really are a lot of cases where the player can't really know what they're supposed to do until Larry dies. Sometimes it's quite funny while other times it just feels like bad design. I doubt anyone out there is trying to finish these games without dying, so it's probably not a huge flaw. After all, the deaths are some of the most enjoyable moments in the game.

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  4. Well, he didn't exactly get on subtly, so they obviously known he got on to a plane. Did he buy the ticket with his real name? Easy to check the lists.

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    1. I meant to ask how does Larry know that KGB goons will come at the other end of the plane ride - after all, it makes no sense for him to jump off a plane, if he doesn't. But scenes like this happen a lot in this game, so I suppose it's just down to producers wanting to make fun with all adventure game cliches.

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    2. Is Larry aware at all that KGB is after him? I always thought he has no clue what is going on with the onklunk and stuff. So how on earth he gets the idea to disguise himself as a woman.. Or is there something I don't remember. If so, I think it is just plain bad writing.

      And as others have also commented, puzzles that can be solved only by dying first are also quite horrible in my opinion. But it gets even worse: One of the games in 1989 holds my all-time-low record in this category.. (juvpu vf znauhagre fna senafvfpb)

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    3. 1) He does seem to notice in the jungle that there's some suspicious guys in trench coaches following him
      2) Then again, when he crashes on Nonooke's island and the onklunk is destroyed, the game tells that Larry never found out its contents
      3) During the end animation Larry appears to be aware that he was tailed all along.

      Personally I think that Larry 2 was made in the same fourth wall breaking style as Mel Brook's Spaceballs -movie, where the characters clearly know they are in a movie (e.g. they use their stunt men as a decoy), or as Monty Python -shows, where the actors tell that they've forgotten their punch lines etc. Similarly Larry is aware of the potential death scenes he has avoided, the KGB men say sometimes that they've captured Larry "again" etc. It's fun if you like such humour, otherwise it just seems absurd.

      But I too think that in the other game you mention this sort of thing is just out of place - it just doesn't fit the more serious tone of the game. And what's worse, vg'f abg rira pnfr bs qlvat naq erfgbevat, ohg qlvat naq cebqhpref zntvpnyyl erirefvat gur fvghngvba.

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    4. Thanks for your insight Ilmari (once again). I agree with you, that the style and how the plot progresses must be intentional. I usually love this kind of comedy, but somehow I just have a mixed feeling on how it was been implemented here - maybe because it's not consistent throughout the game. Or maybe I should just replay the game, as probably I didn't understand most of anything when playing the game 20 years ago..

      Regarding the other game (SPOILER ALERT). V nz npghnyyl abg pbzcynvavat nobhg gur trareny fglyr bs ubj gur qrnguf ner erirefrq (tenagrq, vg qbrf abg svg va gur gbar bs gur frevrf), ohg gurer vf n fvghngvba jurer lbh UNIR gb qvr naq trg erirefrq va beqre gb gevttre n gbgnyyl haeryngrq rirag: Vs lbh erfgber lbhe tnzr nsgre orvat rngra va gur frjre cvcr ba gur ornpu, gur tnzr qbrf abg cebterff ryfrjurer (hagvy lbh unir rkcrevraprq gung qrngu). Gung whfg qbrfa'g znxr nal frafr sebz nal cbvag bs ivrj.

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    5. @Ilmari Jauhiainen V yvxr guvf nafjre, rfcrpvnyyl tvira gur raq bs YFY3. JNNNU JR'ER SNYYVAT GUEBHTU GVZR NAQ FCNPR, NAQ Bu vgf whfg n svyz frg?

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  5. You misunderstood the KGB agents' disguise - they're not "natives" but (a parody of) "Hare Krishnas", who stereotypically used to be encountered at airports handing out flowers and soliciting donations. Hopefully the flower puzzle makes more sense in this context.

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    1. Aha! That makes more sense. I did realise they were Hare Krishnas and I know what they are, but I had no idea that they hung out at airports handing out flowers.

      I'll give you some points for this when I get to the end butsuri. Thanks.

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    2. As a fellow Australian, I only know about Hare Krishnas at airports due to adventure games - this one and Zac McKracken being the culprits.

      Weirdly enough, I know I've played this game with my wife before and keep remembering bits and pieces as you play through, but I have forgotten more than I've remembered. I think this may be because I wasn't trying especially hard to solve the puzzles unaided at the time, making it less memorable. Other games with airport/aeroplane sequences like this have stuck in my head, like Bureaucracy, Police Quest 2 and the aforementioned Zac McKracken, but I'm not sure if this is due to the quality of the games or having to solve them without the aid of walkthroughs.

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    3. @Bunyip yeah, Zac McKracken came to mind instantly for me too. :-)

      I also think there was a memorable scene involving Hare Krishnas and airports in one of the "Airplane!" movies.

      And of course we have Woody Allen's hilarious attempts at finding meaning in different religions in Hannah & her Sisters:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIALGXBCb-I
      ("Who are you kidding... you're gonna put on robes, shave you head, and dance around airports?")

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  6. I am definitely glad that the one time I played this, for the sake of curiosity and out of boredom, that I used a walkthrough. I can't imagine how vexing this would have been if I were a real fan of the series trying to play through it blind!

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  7. The more I read of your experiences with this game, the gladder I am that I played the point-and-click-version. Really makes it a lot less frustrating.

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    1. Yes, I imagine that would make it all much easier and less frustrating!

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  8. For some reason, I could not find the area where I could interact with the emergency exit for ages. I had all the stuff, but I couldn't get him to interact with it. I didn't want to see the phrase "You're not close enough" ever again.

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  9. What have you been up to in London anyway? Besides sheltering from the dreadful weather...

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  10. Working mostly, but I did visit Stone Henge yesterday to fulfill part of my cultural experience quota. Actually I spent most of the weekend at a colleague's house in Old Windsor, which was great.

    I've been to London many times now for work, so I've done the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Big Ben, Big Eye sort of stuff to death. These days I'm just trying to find places to get coffee and food.

    The weather really is dreadful though, but I've come to expect that from this part of the world.

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    1. I've lived in London for most of the last 15 years and this is by far the worst summer I've seen - it's usually warm and sunny pretty much every day in June.

      I would suggest stuff you should see/do, but I've never been here as a tourist, so I don't know what non-Londoners do when they visit! Go to the pub, watch the football, that's what I'd do.

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  11. Rosellas has interesting taste in calendars.

    (I know it is just a continuation of the barber gag)

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