The recent release of Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded for the PC by N-Fusion Interactive and Replay Games, in association with series creator Al Lowe, hopes to revitalize the Leisure Suit Larry franchise. The series has been considered by many fans to be in bad shape following its acquisition by Codemasters. It developers hope to correct the damages wrought upon the franchise’s credibility due to two very critically panned games in a simple way: press the restart button and go back to square one.
That square is the hit 1987 game Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards by Sierra Entertainment. Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is a complete re-imaging of that game from the ground up while remaining faithful to the classic formula that made the first outing of its titular hero, Larry Laffer, a runaway success. At the same time it has been refined to appeal to a new generation of gamers who have never played the game and adding new features to make it a new experience.
The gamble of recreating a classic game while enhancing it is a big gamble and one which does pay off, just not enough to break the bank.
Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded’s story is identical to the one in the 1987 game it is based upon. Set during 1987, it tells of Larry Laffer, a down on his luck software programmer who, at the age of 38, finds himself near penniless and without anyone to love. Larry, determined to change things, travels to the city of Lost Wages (a fictional parody of Las Vegas) to change his life. With nothing more than his leisure suit, $94 in his wallet and a can of breath spray, Larry starts walking the streets looking for love. It’s up to players to help him.
From the moment the taxi drops Larry off outside of the now famous scene outside of Lefty’s bar to the end, the game’s story still maintains the classic adult humor of the original. In fact almost the entirety of the original plot as well right down to its 1980′s setting. Much of it though has been revised or enhanced in order to make the story a little more unpredictable, especially to older fans. These range from new jokes, dialogue and a brand new love interest, Jasmine, whom Larry will try to woo with his usual lack of masculine charm.
Despite all the enhancements to it, the story is ultimately still the same simple, crude and adult oriented comedic romp as it was first told in 1987. Much of the humor still remains which has not stood the test of time. Even when supplemented with the new jokes, the game’s humor still only guarantees to elicit smiles rather than loud laughter.
Even more disappointing is the game’s extremely short length. Should players be good enough they can complete this game in just a single day which is about as long as it could take to beat the original as well. For a game that is greatly enhanced and expanded, it’s unfortunate that its length could not be better extended more.
What has changed though from the original is the control scheme. Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded’s gameplay doesn’t use the original text and keyboard based control scheme. That method is replaced instead by a traditional point-and-click interface scheme typical of almost all adventure games. This results in a very simple control system that even new players unaccustomed to adventure games should get used to quickly.
With just a left click of a mouse, players can make Larry interact with his surroundings, move and pick up objects. These actions can be accessed in one of three ways: by moving the cursor to the top of the screen, holding down the left mouse button to make action wheel materializes or right clicking to cycle through actions. All three methods ensure players will be able to access actions easily while fitting their individual playing styles.
Leisure Larry: Reloaded doesn’t just try to make itself accessible to games but encourages players to take time and explore what it has to offer rather than focusing on winning it. Everything from talking with the game’s eccentric cast of characters, playing mini-games and even the simple act of examining the world often reward players with humor, Easter eggs and other surprises. Such encouragement in a adventure game is rare and is refreshing to see in a game like this.
Players will not have to worry about failure or dead ends while wandering Lost Wages as neither will result in failure. Unlike the original game there is no longer any urgency to save games or restart the game if mistakes are made. If players lose all of their money, the game, in the form of a bum taking pity of Larry, will give players just enough finances to regain through gambling. If an even bigger mistake is made such as getting beaten to death by a back alley mugger, the game will just put you back at a point before that fatal error.
Though this elimination of failure in the game may appeal to gamers not wanting to see the dreaded “game over” screen, it is one part of the gameplay reflecting this game’s easy difficulty. Besides that, puzzles have for the large part become far more easier to overcome. They very often are simple to solve while requiring very little guesswork to overcome. These supposed enhancements to the game actually detract from the gameplay. Where the original did a better job of challenging players and encouraging them to take risks, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded fails to do.
Where the game does succeed more in is updating its look. Compared to the original which was limited in its looks due to technological limitations, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded tries hard to look stunning and succeeds. All of the game’s graphics have been painstakingly remade in a style very similar to the 2D cartoon style of Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail. Now exploring Lost Wages feels more atmospheric and livelier due to the use of boldly illustrated environments. Even the grimiest places in the game have a eye catching charm difficult to ignore because of the level of detail and effort put into making them.
All the characters to have been given a total makeover. Now every character looks unique and fits in snugly in Larry’s cartoon like universe. From Larry’s potential love interests look far more alluring even right down to the homeless people, all have their own unique aspects. Furthermore they’ve all been animated giving them more liveliness which they lacked in the original.
The graphics aren’t without issues with the biggest involving the animations. They often they don’t run very fluidly and sometimes they transition well from one state to another. These are imperfections that could have been better dealt with and better improved upon as they are noticeable blemishes that, although not major, do have an impact on what is otherwise a well illustrated game.
Not just the visuals but the audio too has been remade from the ground up. Everything from the music and sound effects is brand new while remaining faithful to the originals. The result is phenomenal and is one of this game’s best aspects adding more to the game than the original did due to technological limitations at the time. You now genuinely feel like you are walking around a casino city which comes to life at night and there are a myriad collection of high quality sound effects.
The soundtrack is what really stands out. Composed by Austin Wintory, you’ll get a taste of just how good the music is when you start up the game for the first time. When you do, you will be greeted by a terrific orchestrated version of the classic Leisure Suit Larry theme. Such excellence isn’t limited there and continues throughout the game all the way to the ending.
Also present throughout the game and was not previously in the original game is a full voice cast. From Larry’s potential love interests to even the most minor characters, every character is given a voice by actors whodo terrific work in lending their voices to the game’s cast of characters. Some even turn in a few giving some memorable contributions such as that by Jan Rabson. Previously voicing Larry Laffer in three Leisure Suit Larry games, he once again voices the inept Laffer giving a spectacular and sometimes humorous performance.
The gambles Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded game takes pays off enough to result in a fairly entertaining, well designed and a decent return to the roots of the early Leisure Suit Larry games. But the game’s pratfalls, many of which carry over from the original game it’s based off of, prevent it from being a genuinely high quality game but one that is above average. It’s a game that still feels, even with enhancement, still feels like an old game still stuck in the past instead of one that is more progressive and willing to let go of its roots enough to be a genuinely fresh experience.
Even so, players unfamiliar with Larry Laffer’s comedic mishaps will find to be a good starting place to become exposed to them. Older fans too will doubtlessly be happy to return as well and help him find love again as well.