Thursday, 7 June 2012

Game 19: Leisure Suit Larry 2 - Parser Disaster

Larry Laffer Journal Entry 3: “Why won’t everyone just leave me alone? After miraculously making it to dry land, after prematurely exiting the cruise ship, it soon became apparent that I still hadn’t lost those pesky KGB agents. They blocked my path to the airport, which was the only way off the island, so I needed to find an effective disguise to get past them. That turned out to be harder than I thought, as there really aren’t very many resources on the resort. When the island barber gave me long flowing blonde hair, I realised the best approach might be to look like a woman, which certainly isn’t easy for someone with such manly qualities. After putting on a bikini, it was clear that I was going to need more assistance, but getting a full body wax and stuffing my bikini top with cash should surely be enough. It's time to go try my luck. Hopefully, there's still some left over!"

My feelings of victory were about to be crushed!

You might remember how confident I was feeling at the end of my last post. I’d managed to collect everything I needed on the cruise ship to get Larry through ten harrowing days at sea to the island resort. I figured that since I’d made it that far, I must have avoided all the dreaded dead ends that can catch players out, at least to this point of the game. As good as I was feeling about things, that last post ended with me asking the readers whether or not I did indeed have everything I needed, and if not, to leave me some hints / spoilers that would assist me in getting back on track. I knew immediately that my confidence was unfounded as the comments started coming in that made it pretty clear I was screwed. Thankfully, and I do want to thank everyone for making the effort, all of those comments were in ROT13. This meant I could be certain that I’d missed something, but had a choice as to whether I would read the hints or try my hand at correcting my failure without further assistance.

That's 20 people that now know all about my failure

I’d love to say that I took the latter option and solved the puzzle of the missing item (or items for all I knew) all on my own, but considering how thoroughly I thought I’d scoured the cruiser, I decided to at least read a hint to see if it would give me an idea on where I might focus my attention. The first comment was left by Eugene, but I didn’t dare read it as there was no sign as to whether it was a spoiler or a hint. The second comment was by the ever trusty Lars-Erik, and was in a perfect format for a Request for Assistance response. His “Dead end hint” was “Yes, you are dead ended”, so at least I knew for sure that I missed something somewhere. His “Dead end hint2” was “You are missing something from the ship”, which confirmed my belief that whatever I’d missed was on the cruiser. Unfortunately, that left only a spoiler, but by this point the temptation had become too much to bare. His “Dead end spoiler” was “You are missing a bikini top.”

This is the only bikini top I could remember, and I wasn't likely to be able to get that one!

A bikini top? I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen a bikini anywhere on the cruiser, apart from on the KGB agent that made a pass at me. The most obvious place to look would be the pool, but I distinctly remembered there only being men lounging around it. With nothing else to go off, I restored to the pool to have another look. As soon as I got there, I figured the bikini top must be in the pool itself, but since I’d tried to investigate it earlier only to drown, wasn’t completely confident. I walked into the pool and watched Larry flounder around, then typed “swim”. The game responded with “you can’t swim that close to the edge”. I then positioned myself in the centre of the pool and tried again, and Larry started swimming. I can only think that the first time I tried to make Larry swim, I’d either typed the wrong command (maybe “dive”) or I’d not read the response correctly and just assumed Larry was going to drown regardless. Anyway, now I was swimming, so I typed “dive” and then swam down to the bottom of the pool to collect the bikini top that had evaded me for so long.

In hindsight, I should have realised there must have been something I needed at the pool.

Right, so now I had everything I needed and could finally check out what awaited me on the island. The first screen I came across (moving west from the starting screen) was a nudist beach, but I didn’t seem to be able to pass a line of rocks to access it. The game made a point of suggesting the woman lying on the rock might be communicating with me, but I couldn’t see anything to do, so I moved on. The second screen I accessed (moving east from the starting screen) had a couple of dodgy looking men in trench coats just standing around near some umbrellas. As soon as I approached them, the KGB agents captured me for a game over inducing interrogation. That left only one more path to follow, which was south of the starting screen.

I bet Al had always been waiting for an opportunity to have a nudist beach in one of his games.

Moving south took me to a jungle scene. Strangely, I lost control of Larry on this screen, and simply watched him wander around as if lost, humorously disappearing behind things before reappearing in the strangest of places (such as up a tree or peering through bushes). It went on for quite a while before Larry apparently found an exit to the screen. This took me to a restaurant, where a maitre d’ stood waiting at the entrance. The obvious thing to do was to ask for a table, after which I was asked to take a seat and wait. The next few minutes were taken up by the maitre d’ showing numerous obviously richer couples being shown to their tables while Larry gets angrier and angrier. Once a table was finally prepared, it was just a little foldout stuck to one side. This type of humour, where real life scenarios are exaggerated to the extreme, are common in Al Lowe’s work, and I appreciate them very much. Rather unrewardingly though, the only thing that can be achieved in the restaurant after such a big build up, is the collection of a cheese knife.

Sadly, even though I now receive a million dollars a year for the rest of my life, Bill Gates has so much more!

When exiting the restaurant, I was rather surprised to find that I had to watch Larry go through the whole “lost in the jungle” routine all over again before he finally found another exit., with this one leading to a guest room. An attractive looking native woman (well, for an EGA woman anyway) arrived to inform me that she was my “customer service representative in charge of horizontal surface consistency”, but any suggestions of having sex were sadly met with “she’s not interested in that”. Her purpose seemed to be limited to that one suggestive joke, as she left without further discussion. Searching the room revealed some soap in the bathroom and some matches on the nightstand, but once again there didn’t appear to be anything I could actually do in there.

The customer service representative in charge of horizontal surface consistency and custodial maintenance sadly disappointed.

Welcome to the blog Troy. Thanks for sending in your answers.

The next location, after watching Larry once again go through the jungle routine, was yet another barber! An ongoing joke, the barber shops all look identical, the way they apparently do in real life, and give us the chance to watch Larry continue in his failure filled quest to fix his receding hairline issue. This time around there is some form of success though, with Larry walking out with a full head of long blonde hair! What happened next came as a complete surprise! Actually, no it didn’t, I watched Larry yet again search for an exit in the jungle before reappearing back on the beach where we started. So I gained a knife, some soap, some matches, and long blonde hair during my travels. I didn’t see how any of this was going to help me get past the KGB agents, but decided to give it a shot just to see what would happen. They caught me....and then taunted me for having long hair.

It's time to see whether blondes really do have more fun!

Well he does. The guy's a zombie fan!

I restored back to the starting screen and this time went to the nudist beach, hoping something had changed since my last visit The woman that had been lying on the rock was gone, and in her place was an item of clothing. I’d found a bikini bottom to go with my bikini top, and the solution to the KGB agent puzzle became obvious. I had to dress like a woman and then walk straight past them! I tried getting changed right then and there, but the game wouldn’t let me. I suspected I would have to go back to the guest house to put the bikini on, so that’s where I headed. Thankfully, while the jungle scenes still took place, they were now significantly shorter, allowing me to access the restaurant, the guest house and the barber much quicker. I reached the guest house, went round the corner at the end of the room, and typed “put on bikini”. It worked, and a long haired, bikini wearing Larry came into view.

Dude looks like a lady!

Feeling like I’d solved the puzzle, I headed back to the beach and attempted to pass the KGB agents. Nope, they still recognised me, and when asked how they knew it was me, answered with “only in Russia do women have such flat chests”. A bit racist maybe, but with all the other stereotypes and offensive suggestions in the Leisure Suit Larry series, it’s hard to get riled up about it. So I somehow needed to increase my bust size to be able to get past the KGB agents. It was time to use my brain! My first thought was that maybe the barber could assist somehow. I paid him another visit and sat down in the chair once again. To my surprise, the barber did nothing about my lack of boobs, and instead set about waxing off every hair on my body (once again hilariously handled). I can only assume that being hairy would have been yet another thing that would cause the KGB agents to recognise me, even if I could gain a couple of cup sizes.

The wax people, the wax! Get your minds out of the gutter!

She must be caught up recording her way through some lengthy game.

Before leaving the barber, I thought I’d sit down one more time, just to see if there was anything else he could do for me. He made it clear that he’d done everything he could for me, which at least let me know that the solution to my problem would need to be found elsewhere. But where? There was definitely nothing else I could do at the barber, no way to get onto the nudist beach, and the restaurant was now closed to me due to my newly gained dodgy looks. Either I was dead ended, or the solution had to be either in the guest room, in the jungle, my inventory! I couldn’t see anything obvious that would assist in filling out my bikini, so I just started trying things randomly. Interestingly, when I typed “put soap in bikini”, the game said something like “you can’t do that. At least not here.” I took this as suggesting this was the solution, but that I’d need to reattempt it in the guest room changing area.

After watching some of the French Open tennis this week, well...things have changed since 1988.

I made my way back to the guest room, but on the way I paid extra attention in the jungle scene to make sure the solution wasn’t hidden somewhere there. Perhaps I could find a coconut in the tree that could be split in half and used as breasts? Nope, I couldn’t find a coconut, but I did notice something I hadn’t previously...a flower. As Larry walked past it, I typed “get flower” and he picked it up! Still, surely a flower wasn’t going to help with my predicament, so I continued on to the guest house. I went to the changing area and typed “put soap in bikini”. The game responded with “it’s not yours to drop”, whatever that means. I typed “put soap in bikini top” and got “Nah. Better not!” Damn it! My intuition was wrong...again! I looked at my inventory again and couldn’t see anything else that was going to help. Surely the knife wouldn’t help, nor would the onklunk, the flower or the matches. Suddenly it dawned on me! I could stuff the bikini with money!

They might not miss it, but I sure did!

Feeling confident, I typed “put money in bikini” and to my disgust, received “Nah. Better Not!” instead of the positive response I desired. I figured I must have missed something in the restaurant and since that was now off limits to me, restored an earlier game to have a more thorough search with breast shapes in mind (that's fairly normal anyway). Nope, I couldn’t pick up the buns or the cheese, or anything else. Feeling a bit disgruntled, I turned the game off and prepared to go out to dinner with my wife. Just imagine how the following conversation might have gone down. We were sitting there having a nice romantic dinner in a posh restaurant when I suddenly said “I have a strange question for you. If you, as a woman, wanted to make your boobs look bigger temporarily, without any form of surgery, how might you go about it?” The shocked and confused look on her face was awesome, but after I explained my sad reasons for asking, she responded with “well, it’s a fairly standard procedure for women to pad out their bras with toilet paper.” Eureka! That’s it! There’s a toilet in the guest room! I must have to get some toilet paper from there!

Even Eva Longoria does it! Who knew?

I managed to get through the dinner and dessert without rushing due to my eagerness to go home and try out this new plan. As soon as I got home, I rushed to my computer, started up the game and tried typing “get toilet paper” in the bathroom. The smile left my face very quickly as once again, this request resulted in a negative. Sigh! I was defeated, and with nothing else to try, resigned to the fact I was going to have to put in another Request for Assistance. But, before I did it, I thought I better try stuffing every single item in my inventory into my bikini, no matter how ridiculous. While looking at my screenshots to see what I’d already tried, I noticed that I’d tried adding the soap to both “bikini” and “bikini top”, but that I’d only tried adding the money to the “bikini”. Not really thinking it would work, I typed “put money in bikini top”. It worked!!!!!!! I can’t begin to tell you how pissed I was about this. It’s just crazy ridiculous that a game that has so many deadly dead ends, and therefore always makes you think that you’ve missed something of importance earlier, could be so damn pedantic when it comes to parser commands. This is without a doubt the number one most frustrating thing about these early Sierra games. Anyway, my newly waxed bodystrolled past those agents while I waved my hair around and pouted my lips for good measure.

Finally fooled them! What's next?

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 00 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!


  1. I feel that the score is getting closer to my guess with each parser strict puzzle, and dead end. :D

    Good luck with the rest of the game. I'm eager to see you move on, as I find the lesser known series/games more interesting to read about.

    1. Remember that the puzzle category only makes up 1/6th of the total score. It will definitely suffer in that department, but there's a lot to like elsewhere. We'll see...

  2. Well, I made it to London obviously. I'm a bit jetlagged, so I apologise if any of this post doesn't make sense.

    I'm a bit behind on responding to comments as well, which I'll spend some time doing tomorrow.

    1. You should be out pubbing, not sitting in your hotel room playing games. :p
      Although it was a nice surprise getting in to work and having a post to enjoy reading before sticking my nose into the ever increasing stack of tasks.

      IT's strange how the parser issues turn up in some games and not in others. Were some of them rushed? Not having the right people on parser logic?

    2. Al Lowe once explained that when doing Larry 2, he wanted to make the parser recognize the grammatically correct commands with articles and stuff - this was already possible in Infocom text adventures, but in Sierra games it was unheard of. Unfortunately the programming team then forgot in some cases to allow for the possibility of using simpler commands...

    3. @Lars-Erik: There'll be plenty of time for that. In fact, I might just head out to the Porterhouse now since I'm staying in Covent Gardens.

      @Ilmari: That would totally explain it. Al Lowe games up until now didn't suffer from parser issues. In fact, I considered them to be the best when it came to allowing the player to type pretty much anything and get a proper response. Larry 2 is the exception.

    4. Ooooh...Covent Garden! You should try Waxy O'Connors as well once. They don't have anything special on the menu, but it's well worth a visit.

      For eating, try Wahaca if you want Mexican different than your usual Mexican.

      Oh, and if you're there over the weekend and want something really british, try the afternoon tea (Savoy if you're fancy, Strand Palace if you're not. :p )

  3. In the guest room, you can have your way with the maid, but (of course) it ends in yet another amusing death. When she asks if everything is to your satisfaction, you need to type "no". Then she will ask if you want something that is not on the room service menu.

  4. The jungle animation was actually the place which you could have skipped with "leave" or "exit". And it's also possible to hook up with the woman in the nudist beach - simple talking should be enough, but you'll only end in the familiar landing pad.

    1. And I am sure you could have also used the soap as "implant", if you'd just found the correct command.

    2. I'd love to know what the command was to use the soap if that is the case. I tried everything I could think of, which admittedly wasn't much. How many different ways can you say "put soap in bikini top"?

    3. "Stuff top with soap" should work, apparently different versions of LSL2 accept different commands. Others do accept "put soap in bikini", so either they got loads of complains or they figured out they needed to fix it themselves.

    4. Stuff top with soap!!! Who would think to type that?

      By the way, I'll be rewarding all of these bits of info, hints and spoilers when I reach the end of the game.

    5. It's amusing to learn now, that you can skip the jungle animation. In the good old times, I had to wait some 15 minutes each time Larry walked through jungle - thank god my dad finally upgraded his pc..

      Regarding the parser issue, I guess this confirms my memory (which I commented in the introductory post in ROT13), that there was something wrong with the parser there.

    6. Stuff is a standard term for padding a bra...

  5. This game is surprisingly difficult...

  6. Just FYI: There is a flash game I want you to play. I don't think you'll ever add flash adventures to your list, but I'm willing to spend any amount of points on it; Specifically Submachine 0, 1, 2, 4, possibly FLF and the later ones. You can skip 3 as it is just a series of puzzles, or at least, I wasn't willing to play that many logic games, though I wish I could get the plot points from it.

    On a related note; I now get the 'Do a puzzle and have things not work as unrelated task X isn't done yet.' bit. Grrrr. ONLY thing I had to check the walkthrough for. Oh, I already entered that number, but hadn't done X yet? *sigh*

  7. I remember a lot of these flash adventure games being very short (an hour or two), but maybe I've only been playing easy ones.

    1. Yes, they are rather short. They get longer over time though. An experienced Adventure Game player could probably shoot through the whole series in the same time as one of the above adventure games.

  8. GOG Sale has Syberia, Atlantis and Still Life series. I can highly recommend the Syberia games!

    1. Looking at the set that's on sale, they also have Amerzone on sale. Looks similar to Myst.

    2. Amerzone is by the same guy that made the Syberia series. I'm not sure it should be considered part of the same series. I've not yet played it but am interested given how much I enjoyed the others.

    3. Damn, I logged onto my brothers Mac (evil computers) to tell you people about that sale, and you knew about it already.

    4. Amerzone is indeed by Benoit Sokal, but with Myst-like mechanics. The author's penchant for atmospheric locations and exotic characters is there, though. I never got far with it but I liked what little I saw.

  9. hahaha, hilarious reference. Figures that I would be referenced during one of my (rare) busy times, and I would miss it for the better part of a week.

    Good stuff.