Monday 8 February 2016

Game 66: Les Manley in: Lost in L.A. (1991) - Introduction

Written by Aperama

I truly can't believe that they roped Boris Vallejo in!

Les Manley 2: Lost in LA. I can feel the shuddering from behind your screen as you read that we're about to play this. Why? Because the first one most likely drove The Trickster into an adventure game coma. Thankfully, I am something of an old hand at terrible games, so I feel more than confident that I'll be able to muddle my way through it (I played it once several years ago and don't think I needed a walkthrough, unlike Les Manley 1 where I was incapable of escaping the initial few screens due to my unwillingness to shovel dung.) There's one noted difference between the two games – in spite of the fact that it's a very similar bunch of developers who came back to wrack the brains and emotions of prospective players one more time: they're now on a point and click interface! Essentially, this means that in the absolute worst case it becomes a pixel hunting exercise, right? So you guys don't need to worry..

Even if the manual's first page devotes approx. ¼ of its paper to the 'hint line ad'

For those who, like many, have managed to completely wipe Les Manley: Search for the King out of their minds, it's important to realise that this is a direct sequel even if it takes place in a different town to the (three or four) that Les Manley was thrown by a strongman, hitchhiked and got lost in the desert through. Am I trying to tell you all to go back and read Trickster's pain? Well, I'm not going to go that far, but it's definitely worth noting that you might need a passing knowledge of the obvious Larry Laffer ripoff. Indeed, reading through Trickster's work makes me feel as though I should get into telling you all about the people who created this fine example of computer game – nay, art. If you read his, though, you've just about read what mine would be – the only noteworthy difference is that they used less 'true' artists for this game in lieu of the motion capture approach that was popularised by Access Software around about this time (and took off everywhere else including Sierra – even though the Larry games never got this treatment, there's some obvious analogies back to Sierra in terms of the photographed bits being used to get the effect of it being a game about 'real people' a la Police Quest or even Jones in the Fast Lane.)

… And even if the game box came with an additional ad for the hint line

Probably the most interesting thing I found (aside from the ability to send in your warranty card along with $6.95USD for a 26”x38” poster of the box art) in looking up the game was that it was possible to get a short 'making of' booklet of the game. There's some really interesting information in here from the technical side.. oh, who am I kidding, it's an ad. They're talking up Les Manley 1 and how 'popular' it was, then explaining how they've gone out of their way to get 'real people' and how the 'professional actors and models were painstakingly auditioned and cast for their parts'. One paragraph later they talk about how they found some of their actors in 'Playboy, or have held such titles as Miss Legs Hawaii, Miss Body Beautiful and Miss Maui Sun'. Clearly, they were worried about the technical acting ability of their actors. Oh, and it then says that 'Johnny Orason', the unfortunate face of Mr. Manley, was actually a UPS delivery person that one of the developers met in a bar. Apparently, this took three to four months. So what they're essentially saying is, they hired a bunch of models, found a random guy off the street who looked like their title actor and decided that'd do it.

And then they.. then they said.. ahah.. AHAHAHAHAH

The game itself can't be as bad as it has set itself up to be, almost assuredly – even if the work they put into the manual just feels like a bit of a subpar effort. It begins with what I know from my vague recollections of the game as a plot synopsis – people are getting kidnapped in Tinseltown. Oh no! In Hollywood, no less! Several 'big stars' are disappearing without a trace of struggle or any indication as to where they may have gone. The police aren't interested, of course, because they think it's just a big PR stunt. Sure! The usual 'how to run this game in DOS' bits are strewn throughout from there along with ads that look awfully like they were made with clipart or the like – they're just not 'good'. The cursor is, of course, more fiddly than a Sierra affair, using the context sensitive '?' to let you know if something can be interacted with, where you right click to get a drag-down bar of what can be used. Serviceable, even if not particularly 'easy on the eyes' per se. Interestingly, it points out that in some scenes the game will use a 'first person' point of view, taking away certain cursor commands – I'm guessing this is just their fancy way of saying 'dialogue screens'.

This just feels cheap to me. (They also have some ads for real Accolade games.)

On the plus side? Code wheel! I've always loved these things.

Really, this isn't a game I can drone on too much about here – I'm fairly sure I've said all there is to be said. I'm hoping that the vague recollections I have of the game are at least a touch tinged with fiction – but I fear greatly that they're largely correct. At least there's one thing – I'm finally getting my official comeuppance..

The most distressing thing about this cover, in the dead bottom left:
 they trademarked all of the names. Just in case they needed them for a sequel..

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points
: There's 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 CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of Aperama requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that Aperama won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 110 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.


  1. Well the first game got 30 so I say the same here, 30.

  2. 33! It will score higher than the first on graphics and interface, but everything else the same or lower.

  3. I'm feeling positive today, so let's say 37.

  4. I'd like to add that in further research, the developers of this game also claim that this is the first game ever made entirely using digitized actors. The first game that I played for this blog was Countdown, a game from a year prior that used entirely digitized actors...

  5. And so it begins...

    I'm hoping it surely can't be as bad as the first game, but on the other hand, they didn't make a Les Manley 3, did they? I don't see a big Kickstarter campaign for a remake or sequel either.

    Mind you, there's surely no way they'll pull a stunt like that Elvis puzzle, so I'll be generous and give this a possible score of 32.

  6. I'm REALLY sad that I somehow forgot this blog exists. Will rectify that by reading the ENTIRE BACKLOG over the coming weeks.



      ...okay, sorry, I know nobody cares. BUT I CAUGHT UP TO MYSELF!!

  7. I don't know... Looks kinda weird... Low res digitized graphics were never my favourite. Guessing 34

  8. I'll go with 32. Hope it isn't as bad as the previous one, for Aperama's sake!

  9. 40, because one of the people on the cover reminded me of Manhunter!

  10. I preemptively feel sorry for you, Ape.

    My guess is 38.

  11. I'm guessing 42. I played this ages ago but I seem to recall it was substantially better than the first one.

  12. 31 for being just slightly Manleyer than the first.

  13. I also believe this will be quite a bit better than the first, I'll say 41.

    I'm finally caught up on the blog, after being a lurker for about three years! I don't know why I felt I couldn't comment until I caught up, but I'm glad I'm not alone in this illogical behavior.

  14. I'm going against the majority and guessing it's even worse than the first, with 28.

  15. ... someone commented about early digitized graphics
    Legend Entertainment's Dragon's Lair - from the mid 80's I reckon must be the original ...
    It was actually run from one of those 12 inch Laser Disks inside a game console!
    And the late 80 s had been converted for some of the first 8 bit computers.l
    Another was Conspiracy , which had images of actor John Hurt as a Russian , and some very pixellated video
    About this time was Inca from Sierra ...