Friday, 12 February 2016

Les Manley in: Lost in L.A. - Total Eclipse of Descartes

written by Aperama

… It was a dark, stormy night. Wasn't it always? People in my profession never got to do things in the sun. 'Laffer', he said his name was. 'Larry Laffer'. Turns out the little pipsqueak had a 'video game contract'. It was a really confusing mess – muddled like yesterday's peat moss. He'd spent his last game trying to work out what had happened in his life to get him to where he was – he had a happy life, the job he'd dreamed of, the body of while not a Grecian God, certainly 'a fairly fit person'. 'I was looking for my game, y'know, The Lost Floppies? I was searching, and then I ended up in a little place called Los Angeles. And that's when I saw him. He was like me, only without the cool duds?' His 'duds' were cool back when my Grandma was still dating. Before the War. The First one. 'Manley. Lester Manley. Y'see, he had a game that was all about fitness babes, and that's when I got to thinking – what had I been doing for the past year?' Fitness babes sure sound like my thing, y'know? He worked at a TV station, and in my last critically acclaimed game, I did...' I really didn't want to stare at his combover any more, but he just kept going...

Sorry if I clicked through things a bit fast to read – but without the clicking the video took over five minutes.. and the music was getting to me. For some reason, DosBOX lost it. You're not missing anything. At all.

I'm shocked we're actually playing this too, Les

So, I already summarised the plot in my intro if you don't want to bother watching the video – Les is out to find his friend Helmut Bean™, the World's Smallest Man/Actor/Stuntman, who has been (probably) kidnapped along with his paramour LaFonda Turner – so important is she that I had to actually look back through screenshots to assure that I had her first name and not her last. Helmut bought Les a pair of weekend tickets to L.A. (in spite of the fact that the game also acknowledges that he runs the TV station he worked for in the first Les Manley and as such could probably afford the tickets himself), and Helmut isn't where they'd arranged to meet! Oh no! I then tried to select 'just go back to the TV station you run and not risk 'Biting the Green Weenie' again. Unfortunately, that option was blanked out, and as such.. the beautiful Pit via Venice Beach. Apparently, Helmut, a man the size of a thumb, decided that he really wanted to show off his weight lifting regimen to Les. I'm not sure if he was maybe just trying to show off? Certainly he wasn't inviting him over because he thought Les would somehow solve the kidnappings. There was no circus in town! No reincarnation cards!

… 'The male bodybuilders are pretty scary, too.' (They photographed people for this – were they just convinced that the girls pictured would probably never play the game?)
… 'So far.' Oh, Les! You're so classy! (I guess that these are the world class actors the 'making of' was talking about.)

The only thing we can actually actively work with in this opening screen (outside of the game making fun of fat people, bodybuilders and young mothers) are the 'lovely' Cristy and Misty, Helmut's bestest buds (as they would say, 'like, rilly.') It turns out that Helmut spends an awful lot of time down at the beach trying to get buff and tanned – I'm certain that this has nothing at all to do with any fetishes that the game designers might or might not have in their own right. Nothing at all. They have a bit of a problem, though, as they don't fully trust Les, being on Venice Beach and yet still clad in a bow-tie that makes him look almost identical to Pee-wee Herman sans the charisma. Why they don't just give him their social security numbers right then and there is beyond my cognitive abilities! I actually managed to almost get stuck on this screen as the only way to escape it is by 'talking' to them again – the game has no 'exit' function from the dialogue screens. I'm fairly sure that this is actually a statement about the mindset of the sort of person who would willingly run up Les Manley 2: Lost in LA on their computer screens, as though the game designers were trying to insist that the only way out was to burn their copies of the game with fire.. and possibly their computers with them.

I've read this publication literally nones of times. Totally a real magazine. Sold in a newspaper machine. Totally.
This game may have several things wrong – but I can confirm that Hulk Hogan was always billed as being from Venice Beach, California. I'd far rather play as Hulk than Les, though. Hulk Hogan: Lost in LA? Now that's a game I'd like to play

There's one screen that is almost entirely filler, with a lone exception – it serves to cause a complete solar eclipse. Now, I know that you guys might think that this is a little strange, but it turns out that the only way to cause the conversation which causes the sun to block the Earth itself is to read something on the screen next to the Pit with the near-naked ugly man playing hacky-sack. I'm fairly sure that the key to all universal power is also found nearby, but I haven't been able to level up my Eagle Eye spell high enough. Maybe next play post. Beach-side, we find Lance T. Lifeguard (I'm pretending that 'the' is his middle name because it's more fun to me) who happens to be great friends with Helmut. All I have to do is talk to him a bit, convince him that he should get into 'technical training' so he can get some 'cathode rays' and perform some 'recursive functions'. Totally tubular, man! This enables me to go back to Cristy and Misty and get a little more information about Helmut. I must confess that I remember this puzzle from my first playthrough for its sheer inanity, so I knew that the eclipse was required for later – but could be performed now. (I thought that I needed something of Lance's in order to convince Cristy and Misty, but I tried without it and found that it was just another item. That said, what would Les use the opportunity of creating an eclipse just by reading a non-existent magazine and talking to a lifeguard for?

Those eyes will haunt me to my grave, Les. Thanks.

In a game like this, you know that the level of silliness to a puzzle is directly correlated with its importance, so this bandana has at the very least an autograph of Tom Selleck on it. Cristy and Misty are convinced as I explain that Lance has renamed me to Bud (Major Bud in longhand) – so the girls inform me that Helmut used to date Maladonna (gasp!) and that the police force have been told not to look into the celebrity disappearance scandals – they know this because they have a friend, Rock, who is in the police force. A traffic cop on Hollywood Boulevard. They also let me know that LaFonda has a creepy fan who works at the Pawn Emporium, and that Maladonna is shooting a video over at Paramounds Studio (if she's not attempting to kill Abe Goldstein her agent). I'll assure you all that my summary of this all is very much in the interest of the broad public, as the word 'rilly' is used approximately fifteen times a sentence throughout all of this exposition. So, that leaves a few leads to trace down – I decide that finding Rock has to be near the top of that list..

I'm fairly certain that that's how Hollywood is laid out, too. I'm amazed that the 'Giant Bus' north of Sunset and Vine isn't a bigger tourist attraction
Wilhelm scream count: 2 (DosBOX doesn't like the fact that I'm using MT32 for music, methinks)

With what essentially comes down to the choice of Paramounds Studio or Hollywood Boulevard, I feel it right to head out to seek Rock the traffic cop. Naturally, I think he must be the one standing next to the abandoned wax museum, but this thought is evidently one generated solely in my mind. In fact, I find literally nothing to interact with in the first screen sans throwaway jokes. (Why would you go to a place to seek one person, find one that looks identical and assume that they have something to do with what surrounds? That's just crazy talk!) The next screen doesn't seem much better, though I do manage to find an interesting little tidbit which suggests that maybe Sierra tried to have a go at Accolade for Les Manley? (I do recall the image of Leisure Suit Larry literally being in the 'dream' sequence of part 1, which might well be where this 'letter' came from. Corey Cole, information please?) Across from there diagonally is Blade, a man who is standing around 'waiting for a call' – he's attempting to do so without a phone being nearby. We know he's serious, though, because he got into 'trouble for breaching computer security systems'. Edgy. (Eh? Get it? Edgy? Blade?) Across the street again (without a single car running over Lester in his attempts as he is after all omnipotent and has already died at least once with his heaven camera getting him his present job) is Murry's Hotel, where a creepy looking old man asks for cash for a room that has a phone jack (sans phone). I've located another puzzle, methinks!

A cop! He's not this one though. (The game was off by a few years on 'T3'.)
The plot thickens! Actually.. no, wait. No, it doesn't!
Murry proudly tells us about his carpeted walls, which did at least get a chuckle..
And the fourth wall breaking is actually worth a small laugh

Unfortunately, Murry is only willing to part with his phone jack in return for cash (though he does momentarily consider an offer of a kidney or two, in spite of Les being slightly less than happy with the idea) as he doesn't take credit cards. Get cash: puzzle #3! This game is clearly going to take some significant detective skills. (He also lets us know that Blade's real name is 'Peacechild', which opens up a little more dialogue with him too.) With nothing left to do from here, I head down to the next screen where I'm greeted by 'Club Mud'. There's no entry at this point, according to the bouncer, Bob the Barker (siiigh). He lets me know that there's a big party going on at Dr. Nikopoulas' house in Mulholland Drive (the plastic surgeon to the Stars!) and that only he or Abe Goldstein (Maladonna's director and general Hollywood bigshot) will be able to get Les on the guest list. I hadn't realised that there was another exit to the left of the screen which brings me to Rock the traffic cop. He lets us know that there's some hidden information somewhere in the LAPD, but that he has no access to it – we need a computer hacker (puzzle #4 – Blade!) There's also a couple that tease me with all of the other games I could be playing (some of them actually good) who give me a spare map for sitting through the agony of realising exactly what I'm doing in playing what I am. Urgh. I'd also explore the photo booth place at the top of the final screen here.. but I'm just too depressed now.

Exposition! (He also lets us know that the girls who work at Club Mud are college students. I'm not sure if that's a good thing..)
Sadly, I don't get to use it. (I have a cracked version.)
This would be incredibly fun.. were I playing any one of those other games. Except maybe the Mike Ditka thing.

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 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. Not that the rest of the game has stellar art, but the graphics in Murry's (apart from Murry himself) really look terrible to me for some reason - perspective maybe?

    1. Murry is too realistic compared to his surroundings, which makes them really look bad. The other screenshots with realistic people have much simpler backgrounds.

  2. I know that we should be open-minded, judge these games on their merits, and wait until the end before evaluating a game in its entirety, but this is bad. Really bad . . .

    1. I disagree. If anything positive comes out of bad to begin with (so you start thinking something is the absolute worst and it improves to 'alright') that is a HUGE difference to evaluating something on its merits at the very end. I've simply played too many games and watched too many movies that end so poorly it spikes the rest of what happened negatively.

      I really do want to know if that 'threatening letter sent by the other company' is a real thing, though. C'mon, Corey. Just a quick five minute synopsis. Hero-U will still get released! *puppy dog eyes*

  3. Norton Utilities is more fun than this? Wow... (I kinda believe it. You're doing the best you can with what you've got, but this is almost painful to even read.)

    1. I'm correctly sharing the experience that is Les Manley, then. :)

  4. The notorious codewheel strikes again!

  5. There's an adventure game sale on GOG

    Good discounts if you want any of those games

  6. DOSBox didn't capture the music because it's not being generated by it, the MIDI data is being outputted to an external driver (MUNT I hope). DOSBox only captures what's within its own emulation.