Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Game 29: Leisure Suit Larry III - Final Rating

Well this should be interesting! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Leisure Suit Larry III, and am quite interested to see where it can place on the leaderboard. Can it surpass the original??? Before I begin, I just want to mention that I’m getting to the point where I’ve played a lot of Sierra adventure games, with quite a few of them being built with the SCI0 engine. For that reason, my final rating posts are becoming more like comparison discussions than individual game critiques. I think this is the fairest approach given how I apply the PISSED rating, but I apologise if it means I’m covering old ground regularly through these posts. Feedback is welcome as usual...

Puzzles and Solvability
There are actually a lot of puzzles to solve in Larry III and overall they have a pretty good balance. Apart from the one dead end that I’ll discuss soon, I rarely found myself stuck for very long, yet still feel like a had to use my brain to continually progress. In most cases discovering the solution to a puzzle would start a run, where one solution led to another, which I found pretty satisfying. The main aim of the game (to sleep with women) was really quite straight forward however, with the one exception being Suzi Cheatem, who I never managed to bed (I now know if I’d visited her in my showroom dance attire I would have had success). I don’t recall any parser issues getting in the way of finding solutions, apart from scene with the marijuana rope, which is a vast improvement over the very buggy Larry 2.


Turns out Suzi loves cross dressing and our doggie style action was only interrupted by constant phonecalls.

On the negative side, there was a slight overdependence on the manual, but that’s partially forgivable since the tourist manual itself is really quite humorous. It certainly wasn’t as bad as Police Quest 1 was in that department. There was a fairly lengthy maze, although I think one is acceptable in this type of game, especially when it’s so easily mappable. There was also a solution to the maze hidden in the manual, so it’s hard to get too riled up about it. The climactic cage escape puzzle and the dead end associated with it must be punished though, and not just because I got caught out by it. Requiring a magic marker to escape a bamboo cage is stupid in itself, but making that marker so difficult to find and unobtainable once you’ve entered the bamboo forest is pretty unforgivable. Making an otherwise invisible item only appear at a certain point in the game, despite having tried to pick it up earlier, is also just plain harsh! The game could have a got a 6 for this category, but I’m going with a 5.
Rating: 5


I actually noticed the "magic marker" way back at the start, but wasn't able to pick it up. It's only luck that I tried again later as Patti.

Interface and Inventory
Once again, when it comes to Sierra games, we’re really talking about parser and movement when we’re discussing interface. In the case of Larry III, the parser is pretty solid; with only a couple of times in the whole game where I just struggled to find the right term (the harness puzzle is probably the best example). This is in stark contrast to Larry 2, which had numerous enjoyment affecting parser bugs, so a big improvement there. Movement is also well handled throughout. I can’t recall an instance where I couldn’t get where I wanted to due to environmental obstacles (unlike Codename: ICEMAN), and there was only one mini-game (the river) which had very simplistic yet effective controls. Inventory-wise, there’s not much to say. It’s the same as the other SCI0 games, with the exception of Police Quest 2 (which had no functional inventory). Others have mentioned timing issues in the game and a bug that makes completing the gym section all but impossible, but I faced none of those so can’t remove points. All up, I think this category is handled about as well as can be expected for a standard parser based adventure game, but then that doesn't deserve more than a 6.
Rating: 6


This is the only part of the game where I felt I was at war with the parser

Story and Setting
As much as I enjoyed the game overall, there’s no doubt that Larry III rehashes both story and setting from the previous two games in the series. The story, for the most part, is identical to Larry 1 (middle-aged, overweight, balding man goes in search of sexual encounters) and it’s set on the same island where the action took place in Larry 2. This of course is a harsh and simplistic view though, as there’s a lot more going on than that. The fact is that repeating the story of the first game is the best thing Al could have done, and reinvigorated the series after a disappointing sequel. Chasing women and trying to have sex with them is what Leisure Suit Larry is all about, which is why the first sequel’s shift away from that (to a sort of James Bond parody) wasn’t entirely successful. It was just as entertaining the second time around too, with different women in different situations with different results. Secondly, the island has had a major overhaul, and is identical in name alone. The story does go off the rails at the end, but I refuse to deduct a point for that as it was by far the most entertaining part of the game!
Rating: 5


The game doesn't try to hide the fact that it's repeating the same formula as Larry I

Sound and Graphics
While the sound and music in Larry III was produced by different people than the second game in the series, I can’t say I noticed much of a difference. Many of the tunes were simply reproduced, and none of the original material stood out in any way. I do like the way a short snippet of the main theme plays every time points are gained though. I was going to say that the graphics were fairly similar too, but a quick comparison shows that things have come quite a way in just a year. While the backdrops are only slightly improved, the characters are much sharper, and the animation far smoother too. Most importantly, given what the game is about, the close-ups of the women are very impressive given the restrictions of the technology available. As much as it makes me feel creepy just thinking it, Tawni and Suzi in particular look very fine indeed! The improvements in graphics quality is merely what you’d expect for a game released a year later though, and I can’t possibly rate Larry III as high as Indy or Zak, or even Hero’s Quest, so I’m going with a 6.
Rating: 6


Suzi Cheatem: The one that got away!

Environment and Atmosphere
As mentioned earlier, Nontoonyt may be the same island that Larry ended up on in Larry 2, but it’s a very different place for Larry III. There aren’t a lot of locations to visit, and a few of them are only available to visit at certain times. It’s all well represented though, bringing across the required touristy feel throughout. The atmosphere can only be described as light-hearted fun, as pretty much nothing in the game can be taken overly seriously. Larry III pokes fun at everyone and everything, meaning the atmosphere remains consistent throughout, even after the player switches from Larry to Patti. I guess the real reason the game doesn’t shift in tone at this point is because it continues the ongoing (juvenile yet humorous) objectification of women (most puzzles involve Patti removing part of her clothing). Despite how positive all of this sounds, I am going to have to deduct a full point due to Dewey, Cheatem and Howe being so ridiculously difficult to find. I only found it because I knew it must exist somewhere as it was mentioned in the manual, but never would have stumbled upon it otherwise.
Rating: 6


It's difficult to get emotionally involved in Larry III, but then that's not really the point!

Dialogue and Acting
Just as was the case with the first two Larry releases, this is the category where the game really deserves praise. I laughed a lot during those first two games, and almost as much during Space Quest I & II, but none of them had me chuckling as much as Larry III did. It’s consistently hilarious, and that’s testament not only to Al Lowe’s sense of humour, but also his writing abilities. I’m noticing a huge increase in the amount of dialogue that appears in the games created in 1989 over previous years, which could be attributed to the amount of disk space available, but may also have something to do with Sierra trying to satisfy a more demanding audience than was first anticipated. One thing I have noticed after playing the very polished Hero’s Quest is that other designers hadn’t yet made any attempt to make the actual dialogue boxes less obtrusive (they often cover the action entirely in Larry III yet rarely did in Hero's Quest), but that’s really nitpicking. In the end I’ve decided that while Larry III is the funniest game I’ve played so far, it doesn’t advance the genre and therefore gets the same 6 I gave Larry 2.
Rating: 6


Al nevers misses an opportunity to have a shot at someone. Even the player isn't safe from his taunts!

5 + 6 + 5 + 6 + 6 + 6 = 34 divided by 60 = 56.67, which is 57 when rounded up. That’s exactly what I gave the first Leisure Suit Larry game! It’s also the same score I gave Police Quest 2, which is another game that surprised me after a shaky start. So how do I feel about that? I feel like I’ve adequately punished the game for its flaws, and as much as enjoyed Larry III more than the original, I have to give that game credit for breaking new ground. Well that settles it! 57 it is!


So who wins Tex Murphy 1 & 2? Let’s have a look...we have a tie again! archivis and paulfranzen both correctly chose 57, which means I’m going to have to split them somehow. Right, I’ve decided to use the random number generator at www.random.org to pick a winner. I’m about to generate a number and if it’s an odd number, archivis gets the prize. If it’s even, paulfranzen will take the goods on his very first attempt. The number is...(drum roll)...23! Congratulations archivis!!! Send me an email to theadventuregamer@gmail.com and I’ll reply with your Steam code.

70 CAPs for Laukku
• What’s Your Story Award – 20 CAPs – For answering the What’s Your Story questionnaire
• Future Wars Award – 20 CAPs – For correctly guessing my Future Wars riddle
• Hacker Award – 10 CAPs – For telling me how to avoid the adult verification questionnaire
• Rex Nebula Award – 10 CAPs – For guessing the correct game for my Rex Nebular riddle, but not the correct character
• Graphics Nerd Award – 10 CAPs – For describing how to configure the game for the best graphics

70 CAPs for Ilmari
• Sanitarium Award – 20 CAPs – For finding a game that fit my Sanitarium riddle
• Leisure Suit Award – 10 CAPs – For explaining why I couldn’t pick anything up at the beginning of the game
• Skin Cancer Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me of the over-tanning death
• Nectarine Award – 10 CAPs – Nectarines!
• Oral Sex Award – 10 CAPs – Is this really possible in the game?
• Minor Hacker Award – 5 CAPs – For directing me to the answers to the adult verification questionnaire
• Trickster Correction Award – 5 CAPs – For correcting me regarding alternate solutions in Larry 2

61 CAPs for Canageek
• Sanitarium Award – 20 CAPs – For finding a game that fit my Sanitarium riddle
• Compliment Award – 10 CAPs – For making numerous positive comments that make me happy
• Genre Support Award – 10 CAPs – For commenting about a big new adventure game sale on GOG
• Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For commenting about a new adventure game sale on Steam
• Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For commenting about a new adventure game sale on GOG
• Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For commenting about a new adventure game sale on GOG
• Ask Me Anything Award – 5 CAPs – For commenting about an Ask Me Anything with the creator of Dreamfall
• Matt Barton Award – 1 CAP – Instead of the 100 million CAPs that he deserves

60 CAPs for Aperama
• Rox Nebular Award – 30 CAPs – For guessing the correct game for my Rex Nebular riddle.
• What’s Your Story Award – 20 CAPs – For answering the What’s Your Story questionnaire
• Suzi Scoring Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me of how I could have scored with Suzi Cheatem

50 CAPs for Dave_the_Turnip
• Resident Artist Award – 50 CAPs – For producing 5 of the 10 PISSED rating drawings

25 CAPs for TBD
• Sanitarium Award – 25 CAPs – For solving my Sanitarium riddle

20 CAPs for Fenrus
• Pessimistic Award – 10 CAPs - For correctly predicting that I would fail to score with Suzi
• Nectarine Award – 10 CAPs – Nectarines!

20 CAPs for Lars-Erik
• Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with free games

15 CAPs for Alex
• Expletive Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me of the expletive phrase section in the game
• Over-Analysis Appreciation Award – 5 CAPs – For over-analysing the ethnic group comedy section

10 CAPs for archivis
• Clairvoyant Award - 10 CAPs - For predicting the score I would give the game

10 CAPs for Jarikith
• Kickstarter Award – 10 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Kickstarter

10 CAPs for paulfranzen
• Clairvoyant Award - 10 CAPs - For predicting the score I would give the game

10 CAPs for Deimar
• PointClicking Award – 10 CAPs – For informing us of pointclicking.com

10 CAPs for Charles
• Galaxy Quest Award – 10 CAPs – For picking up on my Galaxy Quest reference

5 CAPs for Cush1978
• History Lesson Award – 5 CAPs – For telling me who Spiro Agnew is

5 CAPs for Novacek
• History Lesson Award – 5 CAPs – For explaining why Spiro Agnew really resigned

5 CAPs for Johnny Donut
• Over-Analysis Appreciation Award – 5 CAPs – For over-analysing the ethnic group comedy section

5 CAPs for Draconius
• Tumbleweed Award – 5 CAPs – Tumbleweed

19 comments:

  1. Congratulations on completing another game. I really couldn't get into this one, but I see you had some fun. Reading your reviews makes me want to join in even when I don't find the game appealing.

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  2. GoG sale! Pick 5 games, get 80% off. http://www.gog.com/pick_5
    Includes Deponia, some Sam & Max, A New Beginning, and Lucius.

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    Replies
    1. I took advantage of this too to top up on a few adventure games. I won't get to them for a long time, but at $2 to $4 each, can't really say no.

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    2. I should start mentioning the best of the non-adventure games as well, if I'm going to post the sale, as there were less then 5 adventure games on the list.

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  3. In other news, it sounds like a fair review. I must say, I wish they'd use the same engine a bit more these days (using Engine to me game engine, rules, physics, etc, as opposed to graphics engine as it is used today). Hopefully, that would get dev costs down, and slow the pace of graphics spiral a bit, to keep things affordable.

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  4. Congratulation!
    I thought i've guessed too high after i read your last post, but 57 is also OK.

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  5. In the graphics category I feel like they did try to advance the existing technology some. I agree that the closeups were pretty good for the time. I thought the use of camera angles in some places (the gorge death, dale's strip, the shower) added some variety compared to the straightforward side shot found in Sierra games up until this game.

    Maybe it isn't enough to boost the score, but I can appreciate what they did there.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I think that's fair enough Josh. I actually thought about the shower scene view while doing the final rating post, but didn't feel it was significant enough to sway the result. I forgot about the casino reflection window too which I praised in an earlier post!

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  6. Another game done and won! Good going Trickster, but now you face the Manhunter sequel... MWAHAHAHAHAHAH!

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  7. CAP distribution complete. I'll update the leaderboard in the morning. It took me two hours to read through all the comments and come up with all the awards.

    Not complaining though. You guys are awesome!

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  8. Hey, a 700% CAP increase, not bad.

    Huh, I totally didn't expect the game to be tied with the original. Comparing the scores, you granted III a lower story score, which I disagree with - but I guess the standards have risen.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I just felt it like it would be wrong to give the story a higher rating when it has an identical premise. It was touch and go though!

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  9. Replies
    1. Yessssssssss, I'm coming for your Lars-Erik!

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    2. Interesting that there's so wide gap between third and fourth places in the leaderboard, although otherwise the differences are rather small.

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    3. Ah, if only I had the time I had available last year to play along with Trickster, I'm sure the gap wouldn't be so wide. But I'm happy to be leading the second pack anyway ;-)

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  10. Glad you enjoyed this one, Trick. Quite honestly, I was expecting a higher rating, but your PISSED was very well-reasoend and fair. I wish I could say I was anticipating LSL 5, but I didn't enjoy that one much. 6, on the other hand, is one I can't wait for you to get to.

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  11. As a person who finished the game recently I hace noticed some unfair comments and deducting points, especially if they come out of poor observant skills. In my opinion your are harsh for games you played for the first time or ones which you are not fond of and more forgivable to your favourite ones. I pointed out an example below to support this opinion (point 2).

    For better visualization I have listed issues I am disagreeing with you:
    1) IMO dependance on a manual in some degree is better copy protection than sheet of hundreds of codes. It is more creative for designers and fun for gamers.
    2) You wrote that 1 maze is acceptable but what about Indiana Jones and tha Last Crusade? The game is a maze in 70-80% and if I remember correctly you did not punish it for repetitive mazes.
    3) I have stated this in one of previous posts but I repeat here: Magic pen is not invisible. It glitters when you enter the piano room as Patti. What is more the board asset where the pen is hidden below is a little different. I understand that making huge breaks in playing the game may affect memory but glittering should be noticed by the Player.
    4) I bet you would deduct points from the game rating for locker code if you hadn't get a unintentional hint from one of the folowers of your blog. Hard (or clever) puzzles are ok, you do not need to punish the Title for them.
    5) Harness puzzle is a difficult one, especially for me as I am not an English native speaker (which you have noticed already I believe). I had to use a wlkthrough to pass this one but I would like to point out that the puzzle does not require climbing terminology. "Rip dress" solves the puzzle as well. I would never to find this out but I would not deduct points for just 1 (or 2) unfair puzzles. Does 1 puzzle ruin the overall game experience? IMO no.
    6) Regarding "ridiculously" hidden DCH building I admit that it is not easy to find but using such a strong adjective is a misuse. Well, the very beginning of the game showed me that an exact exploration will be significant. I checked jungle locations very carefully but - thanks to natural perversity of luck - I have found it by an accident beforehand.

    My personal game rating: 7/10 (thanks to maze and irritating arcade section)

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