Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Game 55: Leisure Suit Larry 1 (VGA) - Final Rating

Written by Alex

At long last, I am ready to give the Leisure Suit Larry 1 VGA remake its turn with the PISSED rating scale. Since this game is a remake, it should be interesting to see how it stacks up against Trickster’s original rating from three years ago. It may be a little of an apples-to-oranges comparison, seeing as how Trickster and I aren’t the same person (shocking, I know) but I have a feeling that the remake won’t score higher on every single metric.

Before getting started, I went through and did a second playthrough to find those missing ten points I was complaining about last post. It turns out that you can dial 209-683-8989—the Sierra hint-line at the time—for a funny little Easter egg message and ten points. “Gee,” I thought, “how was a player supposed to figure this out without a hintbook or a FAQ?” Checking the manuals that came with the collection shows a whole bunch of phone numbers, none of them the number listed above. Oh well.

Speaking of the phone, what does the asterisk in the picture below look like to you?

Yeah . . . moving on to the PISSED rating.

Puzzles and Solvability

In all honesty, Leisure Suit Larry 1’s puzzles are pretty easy. Even when something seems like a head-scratcher—how do you get by Faith? What about the pills in the window? How do I get by the pimp? What am I supposed to do with the woman in the bathtub?—the answers are usually spelled right out for you, or you just need to use an item you didn’t previously have at the chokepoint, because it’s an adventure game. The Spanish music with Faith, and the game’s explicit hint that she needs medical help, don’t hold your hand as much as shove you towards the right solution, which is giving her the bottle of Spanish Fly. Getting the Spanish Fly is slightly more subtle, with the clue being hidden in the issue of JUGS magazine. Larry can buy at the convenience store. If you do not buy the magazine, the fact that you’re left with nothing to do but try your new item (the ribbon) everywhere you can follows standard adventure-game logic. And then there are the puzzles where, if you don’t have a previous item, you either need to revisit every location to find said item, or you’re dead-ended. Speaking of which, on my second playthrough I tried to find all of the “walking dead” situations in the game. Here’s my list:
  • Eat candy
  • Eat apple
  • Give candy to cabbie
  • Give pills to cabbie
  • Give ring to bum (you can also give him the remote control and the magazine, which won’t dead-end you, but is kind of interesting)
  • Get tied up by Fawn without getting the knife from the bum
  • Give diamond ring to bouncer
  • Give disco pass to Faith before getting married (she confiscates it for some reason!)
  • Don’t pick up ribbon
Other puzzles are just plain obvious: See a drunk guy? Give them liquor! And so on.

However, despite the hand-holding, the game is designed really well. And since this is, primarily, a comedy game, I can’t fault it for being a little on the easy side. Since, graphics aside, the game is unchanged from the original, I cannot justify giving this a different rating than Trickster’s original.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 5
Remake Rating: 5

Interface and Inventory

The Sierra VGA-era point-and-click interface is easy to use. With this remake, blowing up the inflatable doll using the “nose/mouth” icon may be the only tricky aspect, since up until then, that icon is only used for funny messages. The “zipper” icon, conversely, comes in handy when you want to make Larry do something naughty.

As far as the inventory goes, the point-and-click interface works great for inventory management. Clicking the “eye” on each object reveals more information about it, and as a bonus for the obsessive clicker (me), every object, when clicked on another object, gives a unique and humorous message. Kudos to Josh Mandel for this attention to detail.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 5
Remake Rating: 6

Story and Setting

Again, this is a comedy game aimed at adults, and the story and setting have remained unchanged from the original. The whole thing plays like a Judd Apatow comedy: Raunchy, but with a little bit of heart. Larry is not a sleaze, he’s just a loser. And yeah, he’s looking for physical gratification, but he just wants love! He’s the butt of the jokes, much more than any of the women in the game, and the whole thing feels tongue in cheek and not titillating. If you are the kind of person who gets titillated by Leisure Suit Larry games, then please shut your computer off and seek help.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 6
Remake Rating: 6

Sound and Graphics

Ugh. These new graphics are ugly. They are so 90s it hurts. I understand the tacky aesthetic they were going for, but I feel that it’s a bit much. In all actuality, I like the original’s graphics better! And the cartoon-like Larry works, since that’s the visual style Larry has had since the box-art on the original game, but it looks weird when he’s matched up with the realistically-depicted women. But the sprites aren’t what offends my eyes here. It’s the backgrounds.

Sound-wise, the new tunes are great, and have that characteristic lighthearted Larry flair. However, I did get very sick of the taxicab theme.

This may sound strange, but I have to dock this category a point from Trickster’s original rating. It’s so ugly, not even the improved music and sound can balance it out for me.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 5
Remake Rating: 4

Environment and Atmosphere

Ugly graphics aside, Leisure Suit Larry 1 does a fantastic job of setting the tone. You buy that you are in a sleazy Las Vegas-type of city, looking to gamble, party, and get lucky. The quickie wedding chapel, disco, and convenience store add to the atmosphere, as does Lefty’s gross bar.

Speaking of the environment, I said previously that each location has a lot of stuff to do in it, and I stand by that statement, the casino, Lefty’s, and the convenience store in particular. Considering that the game only has five locations that Larry revisits a lot, this keeps the game interesting. Can’t figure out what to do here? Come back later with new items. Yes, it’s adventure-gaming 101, but it helps make the world feel alive. Also adding to the environment are the things which exist purely for gags, such as the casino’s cabaret and the flasher outside of the chapel. Pointless, but fun.

Trickster’s Original Rating: 7
Remake Rating: 7

Dialogue and Acting

No acting in this game, but the writing is fantastic! While most of it is cribbed from the original Larry, some stuff has been added, such as the inventory messages, and some characters give different responses depending on what items are clicked on them. The two drunks, the prostitute, the cabbie, the guy in the barrel, the bouncer at the disco, Faith, Fawn, and Eve in particular give humorous replies to just about everything in Larry’s inventory. It’s little touches like these that help elevate this remake above the original from a joke standpoint. Fitting, since some of the things present in the original, like the “bodily function” commands and other parser-specific jokes, are missing. 

Trickster’s Original Rating: 6
Remake Rating: 8

Trickster’s Original Final Rating: 57
Remake Final Rating: 5+6+6+4+7+8/.6 = 60. 

Wow, higher than I thought! But I feel that this is a fair rating. The game is fun, clever, and does what it sets out to do: Be a comedy-adventure. As it is actually funny, and plays much better as an adventure game than it has to, the extra three points seem apropos. Looking at the game rankings, I don’t think that this is overly high: The Leisure Suit Larry 1 remake will rank above the original, and Police Quest II, but still below Maniac Mansion. It hurts a little having this be higher than Larry III—one of my favorites—but PISSED don’t lie!

CAP distribution

120 CAPs for Alex
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For blogging his way through the game for our enjoyment
  • What's Your Story Award - 20 CAPs - For WYS answers
60 CAPs for Ilmari
  • Classic Blogger Award - 50 CAPs - For a Missed Classic on Softporn
  • Psychic prediction award - 10 CAPs - For guessing the score
20 CAPs for TBD
  • Genre Appreciation Award - 10 CAPs - For mentioning Tex Murphy and Larry sales
  • Farrah Fawcett Award - 10 CAPs - For winning a caption contest
15 CAPs for Laukku
  • Genre Appreciation Award - 10 CAPs - For pointing out two Kickstarters
  • Piano Player Award - 5 CAPs - For recognising the music played in the chapel
11 CAPs for Dehumanizer
  • Exterminator Award - 6 CAPs - For handling the cockroaches
  • Wine Snob Pretender Award - 5 CAPs - For using a line from Larry in real life
10 CAPs for Aperama
  • Cheat Award - 10 CAPs - For revealing how to avoid the age quiz
10 CAPs for Corey Cole
  • Reminiscent Moose Award - 10 CAPs - For recounting the tale of moose heads in Sierra games
10 CAPs for Rowan Lipkowitz
  • What If Award - 10 CAPs - For an alternative history of adventure games
10 CAPs for Crunchy Frog
  • Christina Applegate Award - 10 CAPs - For winning a caption contest
5 CAPs for Torch
  • Antler Award - 5 CAPs - For guessing the answer to Alex' riddle
5 CAPs for Charles
  • Missed Photos Award - 5 CAPs - For uncovering more photos of Rick the Waiter
5 CAPs for Andy Panthro
  • Genre Appreciation Award - 5 CAPs - For notifying of a bundle on GOG
4 CAPs for Kenny McCormick
  • Lewd And Trashy Jokes Award - 4 CAPs - For providing entertainment to the readers
That was that! But before we let Andy Panthro on the stage with the remake of Space Quest, let's see what are the current rankings for the 1991 games:

1. Space Quest 4 - 65 points
2. Leisure Suit Larry 1 Remake - 60 points
3. Hugo II - 18 points

So far no big surprises, since everyone guessed that SQ4 will score high and Hugo II low - the high score of LSL 1 might have surprised some. We'll be updating the rankings regularly with each new game played, so you can check how well you've guessed the order of the games.


  1. Kinda feel you're too harsh on the graphics! I agree that they are almost offensively 90s, but it's perhaps a little harsh to judge them based on that. You can't fault the quality surely. I would probably have given it a 6 in that category, because it is mostly an improvement, but it lacks anything to push it up higher.

    Anyway, congrats on getting through the game, and I wonder how long it will take us to get to the next LSL1 remake?

    1. I'm gonna point out that the number of 'true' adventures is likely to peter out through the late 90s-early 00s, so I'm betting that for all that we're creeping through the golden age of adventure games (where LucasArts and Sierra's ongoing titles vying for the same shelf space meant for a whole lot of attempted takeoff titles), after FMV comes and largely kills all of the genre's steam, we're going to fly through to Telltale's titles, with the only question being whether or not we actually cover games like Myst or the 7th Guest - puzzle games with a 'story' interlaced through. (We'll also hit an interesting point where AGS titles become part of our firing line. I mean, much as I want to review Richard Longhurst and the Box that Ate Time...)

      As to LSL? I'll agree with the graphics and sound rating being a bit unfair. The aesthetic might not please, but PC speaker to at the very least adlib? To each their own, I suppose. Still, great to see a game like this, played so much when I was too young to supposedly be playing it, through another pair of eyes.

    2. I see your criticisms, but I stand by my rating. I find this game to be very ugly. To me, the VGA Larry's didn't hit the aesthetic sweet-spot until LSL 6. The new sound and music is great, and it almost canceled out my dislike of the graphics, but I still don't find this remake to be pleasant to look at.

    3. I think you'll find more than you think. There are a lot of smaller, budget titles and ones aimed at young women that don't get much press. Laura Bow, Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes.

  2. “Gee,” I thought, “how was a player supposed to figure this out without a hintbook or a FAQ?”

    In the original, at least, the number could be found within Larry's wallet, which contained some business cards from Sierra.

    1. Right. It's also found in the help menu, and even says "For a good time, call the author," or something to that effect.

  3. CAP scores updated! Nothing much is happening in the leaderboard, but Alex is rising in the complete rankings.

    Also, LSL1 remake rises to Top 10 (which is now Top 12), beating even the original!

  4. A simple thought while going through the actual Top 12 : 7 Sierra games and 5 Lucasarts games. I think that with the masterpieces coming from the latter, this will be reversed soon enough with at least 8 of the top spots definitely taken by the Lucasarts games. The question is : will we see a game from another company take a place in the spotlight before at least ten more years?

    1. Nearest ones from other companies have been Mean Streets, Elvira and maybe Rise of the Dragon (if you Dynamix as separate from Sierra). Two of these games have sequels coming up this year and Dynamix published two more games. Maybe some of them will rise to the top?

  5. No CAPs love for my Caption Contest entry. It may have been bad but it was the only attempt. Seech rough crowd.

    1. Oh yeah, I forgot adding those altogether! I think your answer must win by default, since no one else answered (as did TBD win a later contest). I'll correct the mistake right away!

    2. Now the points for both Caption Contest have been given!

  6. For those wondering how I'm reading all this at work: Emission and Excitation spectroscopy suck. Doubly so on weak samples when you have to use 0.75 second per nm, and are scanning the range from 300-600 nm.