My review of Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is a reloaded review. I knew I was going to to love this game. I loved it when I first played it as Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards back in the late ’80s. It’s been reissued and revamped a couple times since then, but never like this. Through the wonders of Kickstarter, creators Al Lowe and Josh Mandel drew enough interest to rebuild the classic adventure from the ground up, adding new characters, refining some original puzzles, and re-recording the soundtrack with composer Austin Wintory.
Now, that will mean something to those old enough to recall a time when pretty much every game was an adventure game, but who cares when you’re used to League of Legends and The Witcher, right? Even with the current resurgence in adventure games, Larry seems a bit…lost and lonely.
So, other than for nostalgia and to simply honor Larry’s somewhat ironic stamina, is there any reason to jump back into the charmingly pathetic world of Larry Laffer?
Yes. The comedy.
For those who don’t know, Larry is very much a loser. As Al Lowe pointed out in a recent episode of the AppleTell All Night podcast, Larry is a guy men and women can both look down upon (although not all of us did). He’s out of touch with the times and with the ladies, but he’s got high hopes. Larry’s looking for love—quick, easy love, but love nonetheless—and no number of illogical puzzles and inexplicable deaths is going to stop him from getting it.
That’s the majority of the fun in a Leisure Suit Larry game, after all. The puzzles harken back to a time when they were created by computer programmers for computer programmers. They’ve got a logic all their own, meaning there’s not often any logic at all, and solving them is just a matter of getting them wrong until you get them right. But that’s fine, because dying is hilarious. Death comes swiftly and unexpectedly, but you’re always dropped right back to where you were (thankfully, “save early, save often” has been replaced by mad science). As such, it’s not just okay to die, it’s encouraged.
The same goes for clicking around randomly. Doing this to solve puzzles is usually a sign of bad adventure game design, but there’s so much hidden comedy in Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded that you’ll often experiment with the environment and your inventory even if you know how to solve the puzzle just to make sure you’re not missing any good jokes…or bad ones. There are plenty of bad ones, too, after all.
In Reloaded, all of this is brought back with hand-drawn animation that sits somewhat appropriately uncomfortably between respect for its origins and disrespect for modern technology. The scenes are colorful and stylized, but they feel flat. The audio updates compensate, however, with excellent voice acting (although I never really did get used to Larry’s voice) and outstanding music (available in iTunes). The Leisure Suit Larry theme song is one of the best ever written for a video game, and here it gets brand new life from Austin Wintory and a full jazz orchestra.
I probably haven’t effectively answered the question of whether Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is worth a look at this point in time. I’ll make it easier. For fans of the original, yes, both for the nostalgia and for the new puzzles…although, unless your memory is better than mine, you may not know what’s new or old.
For fans of adventure games, it depends upon whether you can laugh when crying out, “But that makes absolutely no sense!” For fans of ribald comedy, absolutely. Al and Josh know their way around a good joke, and a bad one. If $20 is a bit steep for you, there’s always Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded for iOS. It’s only $5.00.
There is one other group I must address—those who played Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude and Box Office Bust. If you played (and therefore hated) those games, you owe it to yourself, to Al, and to the adventure game world to buy Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded and discover just how fun and funny these games can really be when they’re done with respect for the genre, the material, and the gamer.
Larry Lovage is dead: long live Larry Laffer.
- 4GB RAM,
- 4GB HD space
Review Computer: 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 iMac, 4GB RAM, 512MB Radeon HD5670 graphics card
Network Feature: No
ESRB Rating: 17
Availability: Out now