Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Game 19: Leisure Suit Larry 2 - Won!

Larry Laffer Journal Entry 5: "Finally I've found the woman of my dreams...again! I could never have imagined that my harrowing flight from KGB agents would end with me trying to save an island of natives from an evil villain named Dr. Nonookee. The guy had been capturing and hypnotising native women and had built his lair right on the native's ancestral burial grounds atop a volcano. After meeting Kalalau at the beach, we immediately fell deeply in love and decided to get married. Unfortunately, I had to remove Nonookee from the island before any marriage could go ahead, but before I could even attempt that I needed to pass Kalalau's father's manhood test. I don't really know how I did it, but I've managed to succeed on all counts, and have just spent the night making love to my beautiful new wife. Even the news that the company that owes me a million dollars a year has gone bankrupt can't dampen the feelings of happiness I have right now. Let's hope this lasts more than a few days!"

At the end of my last gameplay post, I'd just jumped out of an aeroplane...

Wow! I had no idea when I started Larry 2 that it was going to take me a total of 13 hours to complete it! That’s an hour and a half longer than the very challenging Mortville Manor and two and half hours longer than King’s Quest IV, the previous longest Sierra game. I don’t think it’s all that surprising that the games on the list are taking more time to complete as I go along, but I didn’t really expect it to occur so exponentially. It's also worth noting that I needed assistance from the readers twice when playing Larry 2, so the true total time that it might have taken me to complete the game will have to remain an unknown. I’ll save any further comments about the game's overall attributes to the Final Rating post, which unfortunately will have to wait until my return from France.

...and landed in a tree where I remained for a day or two.

Right, so at the end of my last gameplay post, I was hanging from a tree branch after jumping out of an aeroplane for very dubious reasons (i.e. none whatsoever). Getting out of the tree was easy enough, as I had a knife that I cut the parachute cords with. Unfortunately, the distance between the tree branch and the ground was rather large. My immediate thought was that I was going to have to restore and try to find a way to fall lightly, but surprisingly I didn’t die. However, the onklunk which I’d been carrying, and which had to this point been the sole reason for everyone chasing me, broke on impact with the ground. I have to say this confused me quite a bit! Surely the onklunk played a role in the game’s climax! If it’s only reason to exist was to inadvertently (and by complete and utter chance) lead me to the island of Dr. Nonookee, that’s a pretty awful plot device!

So why didn't I just break it days ago!?

I spent a while trying to think of any way that I might have avoided breaking the onklunk, but in the end I decided that if it had any purpose later on, the game would have informed me that I was screwed when I broke it. At least, that’s what I hoped! It was time to see what was on the island I’d seen in the introduction to the game. The game made a point of describing the ground’s texture, so I thought it might be worth looking at in more detail. I’m glad I did because I found a stick that I was able to pick up. That was all I was able to do mind you before I bumped a branch holding a beehive, causing the bees to swarm me and kill me. I avoided the branch the second time around by taking a very specific path, and was able to move to the next screen. As it turned out, I was merely walking into another obstacle.

Death by Anaconda: This island has more dangerous animals than Australia!

The next screen has a snake in a tree that I was going to have to avoid. I died quite a few times trying to find a path that wouldn’t result in it eating me, but eventually I tried using the stick I’d found on the previous screen, just as it was about to attack. It worked, and I jammed the stick into its mouth, causing it to scurry off into the jungle. I couldn’t find anything to pick up on the screen, so I moved onto the next one. What do you know?! Another obstacle! This time it was quicksand that I had to avoid, which I found out about fairly rapidly after sinking to my death after just a couple of steps. Fortunately the path through the deadly sand was pretty obvious, as it had a different colour to the rest. I still died once trying to cross it successfully, but it didn’t offer a lot of challenge.

Death by Quicksand: At least I sank quickly.

So that’s three screens down on the island and all three contained nasty obstacles that required a little bit of thought to get past. I entered the fourth screen fully prepared for another death dealing complication. I wasn’t disappointed! I found myself confronted by water, with numerous vines hanging above it. It was already clear that I was going to have to swing across the vines to avoid falling in the water, but my curiosity led me to walk straight in to see what would happen. Surprisingly I was able to walk through the water unopposed, although I was informed of a soft tickling feeling in my legs. It was only when I walked out the other side that the reality set in. The lower part of my body had no flesh left on it, eaten away by piranhas. I had to laugh at my misfortune and restored back to the other side. This time I swung across the vines by typing “use vine” three or four times in a row (thank heavens for the F3 function) to safely reach the shore without injury.

Death by Piranhas: One of the funnier death scenes so far, not to mention post death mocking.

So far, so good, and things were about to get much better for our underdog Larry. The next screen was a beach, and coming out of the water was a “beautiful native girl” waving at me. Not only did she seem eager to converse with me, she was also TOPLESS!!!!! I have very mixed feelings about what occurs after meeting Kalalau. On the one hand, control is taken away from the player for close to ten minutes! On the other hand, the whole scene is hilariously written, and showcases Al Lowe’s real talent for comedy. I’ll give you a quick rundown of what occurs, but what it’s all really about is giving Larry a reason to try to defeat Dr. Nonookee, because let’s face it, there have been little to no motives to anything he’s done to this point.


In a nutshell, Kalalau and Larry immediately fall in love and pash for a while, but are unable to have sex due to a strict native law that demands a couple be married before doing the horizontal dance. They decide to get married, but marriage has been forbidden until someone removes Dr. Nonookee from the ancestral burial grounds atop the volcano. They then go off to meet Kalalau’s father, hoping to convince him that Larry is worthy of her hand in marriage. The father, named Kenawauwau, demands that Larry prove his manhood by passing an initiation involving something called the Sacred Peesea. The Peesea turns out to be a PC, which Larry has to write a program on to prove his worth. He does so, creating a program called Eunochs (get it?) in the process, all while a native peddles on a bike connected to a battery to give the PC power. Talk about writing what you know! Al Lowe injected so much of his personality and interests into this game that it’s difficult to distinguish between the character and the creator at times.

Wow...that really is true love!

After all of the above is over, I found myself left standing on a ledge with one purpose. To find Dr. Nonookee and to remove him from the island somehow! I immediately had a problem to resolve however, which was to get over the rather large crevice in front of me. I only had matches, the airsick bag and the rejuvenator bottle in my possession, and I was unable to find any way to get across. I did have a fairly obvious “eureka” moment however, when I was reminded of all the vines I used to get over the water a few screens back. On restoring to that screen, I was indeed able to get one of the vines, and after quickly rushing through all the plot development that I described above, I used that vine to swing across the crevice to the other side. There would be no turning back from here, as the branch I tied to the vine broke off and fell into the crevice, stranding me on that side. I hoped I had everything I needed. I didn’t!

A little bit of motivation goes a long way!

I found myself confronted by a glacier, with some very slippery steps leading up the mountain. I tried climbing them to no avail, as I kept sliding back down. At first I figured this was going to be another maze puzzle like the tongue in the whale in King’s Quest IV, but it soon became apparent that I was not going to be climbing up unassisted. I tried melting the ice with the matches and the inflammable rejuvenator, but had no success. I was stuck, and started wracking my brain back to previous screens, hoping to remember something that might help me. I restored all the way back to the beginning of the island, and took extra time looking for something I could tie to my feet, or something textured I could throw on the ice. I also figured I might be able to type something while control was taken away from me when meeting Kalalau, but that also turned out to be a false hope. I soon found myself standing on the ledge again ready to throw the vine, with nothing extra in my inventory. It’s only then that I had a thought!

That's about as high as I could get before sliding back down.

It hadn’t occurred to me before, but I suddenly wondered whether I could walk back into the village the same way Kenawauwau had led me out of it. I’d had no control of Larry through that whole section, but now I’d regained control, I could do a bit of exploring. All the natives had gone inside, and it didn’t take me long to find what I needed. In fact, I found two possible “items” that I might be able to use on the ice. The ashes from a burnt out fire and some sand from the beach where I met Kalalau! With these in my inventory, I swung across the crevice and made my way back to the icy steps. I tried using both the sand and the ashes and it seems either would have been enough to make the steps climbable (a hardly impressive case of multiple solutions). I made my way upwards, realising the end up the game was approaching. It wouldn’t be long now...or so I thought!

There's not really any doubt is there?! Of course I have magical powers!

At the top of the volcano were an elevator with a door that wouldn’t open and a crevice with steam coming out of it. I could see no way to do anything with the elevator, so I focussed my attention on the crevice. When I tried to “use rejuvenator” near the crevice, the game told me that “this area is not conducive to bombing. Try again somewhere else.” I couldn’t really go very far on the screen due to some rocks blocking the way, but I couldn’t find anywhere else that was “conducive to bombing”. I tried using the matches, which resulted in me dropping one in the rejuvenator and blowing myself to pieces. This turned out to be useful however, as the game told me that “next time you make a Molotov cocktail, why not try using a wick?!” OK, so I needed to make a Molotov out of the rejuvenator and the sick bag, and then light it with the matches. Easy right!?

Larry called upon his newly gained magical powers, trying to open the door with his mind.

“Use bag on bottle” resulted in the same “not conducive for bombing” message. So did “put bag in bottle” and every other combination I could think of. I was going to need to find the right place to make the bomb before I could even attempt to make it, which is stupid. Eventually I found the exact spot (and I mean exact) right next to the crevice that was apparently “conducive to bombing”. I typed “put bag in bottle” and the game responded with OK. Hooray I thought! I’m getting somewhere! Yet...instead of making a wick, Larry threw the rejuvenator into the crevice, subsequently ending any chance I had of finishing the game. I tried a few other different ways of saying it, only for the exact same thing to happen. I was starting to get pretty frustrated by this point, and was also starting to doubt my whole approach to the puzzle. Was I missing something? I decided to put in a Request for Assistance.

A few seconds of exaltation...followed by disbelief and frustration.

A few minutes later, The Mad Gamer came to my rescue, by telling me I had to type “put the bag in the bottle”. This informed me of two things. Firstly, it absolutely rocks having you guys to help me through these tricky situations and I’m thrilled with the amount of time you’re all putting into this little community. Secondly, it confirmed to me that Leisure Suit Larry 2 has some very serious parser issues. As if my troubles filling my bikini earlier in the game hadn’t been bad enough, the game’s last puzzle is shocking. “Put bag in bottle” doesn’t work, but “put the bag in the bottle” does!? I don’t think I’ve ever typed “the” while playing a Sierra game. It’s always “look at house” or “get vine” or something like that. Anyway, it turns out you can say “put airsick bag in bottle” too, but I’d been calling the bag a bag all the way through the game to this point with success.

Well that was easy!

Anyway, while it might seem unfathomable, given that Larry’s task is to remove Dr. Nonookee from the island, the game pretty much wraps up with no further interaction after dropping the lit Molotov into the crevice. The explosion causes the elevator door to open, which Larry then walks into and falls down to where Dr. Nonookee is watching a bunch of women perform. Larry stumbles into the room and in a ridiculous string of good fortune, accidentally high fives a statue, causing it to activate the fortress Peacemaker Self-Defense Control Panel, which he then accidentally falls on, pressing the Auto Fire button, which causes a laser beam to fire and hit a piano, which just so happens to flip up and land on Dr. Nonookee. Job done!

I was just a spectator by this stage.

What a massive anticlimax, particularly after Nonookee was introduced and given some form of personality in the game’s introduction. I’m sure it’s Al Lowe taking the piss out of basic storytelling conventions, or perhaps he couldn’t see any way for the game to play out using the SCI engine and decided to simply end it. Either way, the women take their clothes off (of course), reverting back to their native ways, and carry Larry off to a helicopter, which flies him back to Kalalau, whom he marries in one the most bizarre, and admittedly very funny, wedding sequences ever. The native tradition includes spinning around until you throw up, rubbing pies in each other’s faces and then doing the moonwalk.

No wedding is complete without a bit of moonwalking

After the ceremony is over, the father takes Larry to his tent to give him a wedding present...a full head of hair! In yet another hysterical twist, the father is yet another barber, in a barber shop that looks just like all the others. As I watched the closing scene, which involves Larry and Kalalau running naked along the beach before having sex partially hidden by a plant on the beach, I feel a mix of anticlimactic disappointment and total entertainment satisfaction, not to mention the remnants of comedic glow and buggy programming induced frustration. Who knows what the PISSED Rating system is going to do to this game! I'm afraid you'll have to wait until next week...

At the least there was some sort of climax in the end.

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 00 minutes


  1. I'm guessing the onklunk is a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and what he called a MacGuffin.

  2. Just so you know, that isn't an exponential increase. An exponential increase would double each time (or triple, or increase by ten). If it was exponential this game would have taken you over 20 hours, and the next would be over 40.

    I could try and give you a rough fit of what function the game length is increasing as, but I suspect it is just a second order linear equation of some sort.

    1. Isn't it common use to use exponentially as a synonym for 'a lot'?

      What follows is nitpickery and inanity. Be warned :-)

      In the mathematical sense though you're partially mistaken. Exponential growth means that the linear increase in the input results in exponential increase in the output. That's to say they grow (or decrease) ever faster.

      A function like y(x) = 2^x behaves as you say, when we look at it with values like 2 and 3 for x (4 and 8 respectively).

      However, a function like y(x) = 1.1^x produces a more modest increase with the same values for x (1.21 and 1.331 respectively).

      Also, another use for the word exponential is exponential functions. They use the Euler's number (e ~ 2.718) as their base. A wide variety of natural phenomena can be modeled with them.

      Of course this is all besides the point, but I couldn't fight the compulsion to try and explain the misunderstanding :-)

      Which is to say, congratulations on helping Larry find love once again!

    2. Haha...I'm aware of what exponential means, but I don't think it's unusual to use it as a way of describing something increasing at a faster and faster rate.

      In other words, I was knowingly exaggerating.

    3. unimural: Are you sure? I thought an exponential function was any function with the changing variable in the exponent, thus the name.

      The base doesn't really matter when defining a function; In computer science you always use 2, in biology you always use e, and so on. It doesn't change what class the function belongs to.

    4. I'd tend to agree with Canageek that any function of the form ab^x, with x the only variable, could be called exponential. Of course, they all wouldn't "grow exponentially" in the common sense of the word (i.e. very fast), but this shouldn't be a problem in mathematics. If you wanted to single out one function of this sort as THE exponential function, then it would probably be e^x, but not because it would increase faster than all others, but because of its interesting properties (being its own derivative etc.). Of course, this might vary depending on the field or even the author.

    5. Looking it up:

    6. That was fast:

      "e^x is the exponential function, but c⋅k^x is an exponential function for any k (>0,≠1) and c (≠0)." So yes, for something to be described as exponential growth, it has to be of the form c*k^x, but does NOT have to be of the form e^x.

    7. If I were a web crawler or a Google algorythm, and if I found this kind of discussion on the same page as a graphic that says "SHE'S TOPLESS!", I would scratch my head.

    8. I think one could make up a reasonable connection between the two - something on the line of Larry going through an exponential growth after the graphic event.

    9. It's unbelievable that you made all the way to college, even if it's Canada.

  3. Sounds like Al Lowe missed some interesting puzzle opportunities with those cutscenes. It's too bad there's such a divide between the gameplay and some of the actual interacting with the main characters.

    Also, I wonder what the vine jumping looked like and wonder if it was an homage to an '80s arcade game Jungle Hunt:

  4. Al Lowe never stopped experimenting with parsers and narration in his LSL series. The 3rd and 6th are almost entirely non-linear, while the 5th can be won without actually solving anything. The 7th saw an implementation of the parser system back in the days where every gamer had forgotten about it... However, I'm guessing these kind of problems come from such tests...

    Anyway, congrats on finishing this one, it's indeed a very difficult one!

    1. The 5th can be won without solving anything? Hmmm...intrigued!

    2. I find the user interface of LSL7 to be the best I've seen in adventure games - point and click, but still the opportunity to have creative puzzles which cannot be solved just by clicking everything. Too bad we didn't see any more games with it!

    3. I know it's more than a year later, but my guess about Larry 5 is that they were trying to out-LucasArts LucasArts.

      Old Sierra: you needed an object from a previous scene (which you can't go back to), so you're dead ended.

      LucasArts: you can't go to the new scene without the object.

      Larry 5: you *can* go to the new scene, and the game mocks you for not having the object, but lets you progress anyway.

  5. Congratulations on winning Larry 2! I seem to remember from a booklet in a Larry collection that the ending feels rushed simply because it was rushed - Sierra had to squeeze the game in so many discs, so Al Lowe eventually had to cut the ending short.

  6. The problem with the parser in this instance is that Sierra's testing procedure was to go through the game using the longest sentence that would work. Since including "the" makes it longer than not, that's the one that got test, while the proper adventure shorthand of not using "the" didn't. Stupid and annoying enough that I remember it years and years after playing the game...

  7. I just noticed how the "rank" changes throughout the screenshot ... funny! Did Sierra ever do that with other games, or just LSL?

  8. I'm back on the ground in London and preparing to head back to Australia tomorrow. Everything should be back to normal come the weekend. :)

    In the meantime, GOG has a new adventure game added to the catalogue. It's called Resonance and it's by the developer of the Blackwell series and Gemini Rue. It looks quite interesting.

    1. GoG is also having a series of head-to-head voting one day sales. Today's sale is Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy) for $2.39 (60% off) and Alone in the Dark 1, 2 and 3 for $3.59 (40% off); They had a vote, and Fahrenheit one. Tomorrow will be an FPS. Sadly I missed Myst for $2.39 and The 7th Guest for $5.99, which were yesterday's two games.

    2. I bought Myst, maybe you can donate to GOG and I'll send you a copy :).
      These sales are badly addictive (I already owned Myst), it the same with Steam...

    3. I still have a copy of Myst in a box somewhere, thanks. ;)

  9. Two adventure games tommorow: Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templar, directors cut vs The Last Express. I probably won't buy either, but I'm willing to cast my vote however you recommend, so that someone here can get the discount.

  10. Oh, by the way, The Quest for the Magic Candle, part 4 is up, with some more adventure game treasures in it!

  11. Al Lowe has a lot to say about the game-ending parser bug, for anyone who's interested: