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Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded Preview

Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is an old game. Sure, it may have a new lick of paint, but that’s about the equivalent of a church restoration; it’s still an artefact from a time gone by. From the mechanics and the humour, to the almost prehistoric depiction of women - Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is, if anything, a good indication of just how far we’ve come since 1987. And here we are, 16 years after the game’s original release and ascent to cult classic status - can the series hold up? Time to grab your breath-spray and follow Larry into the City of Lost Wages for a night of intrepid flirting and inevitable rejection. Just take my advice - don’t try to cross the street on your own.

First thing’s first - before you’re allowed to play, you’re prompted by a series of questions with the intention of clarifying your age (a procedure taken from the original, apparently). I’m 20 and had little clue as to the American-focused answers, finding myself twice sent back to the menu screen for failing. If this kind of middle-aged humour is your thing, don’t worry. It persists.

Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded

The game dumps you outside Lefty’s Bar with the one, rather vague objective of finding ‘true love’ - and if Larry gets laid in the process, then that’s just great. It becomes immediately apparent just how old-fashioned Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is through the distinct lack of direction. I spent ages in Lefty’s Bar with no idea what I was supposed to be doing, before finally discovering that I could use a taxi to access other parts of the city. This exploration-driven gameplay would be great if the city was actually worth looking around; instead, I often found myself bored, stuck and frustrated.

The humour manages to keep away from actual sex talk, instead relying on innuendos and double entendre that largely amount to things your Dad might describe as ‘saucy’. Unfortunately, these only get about as witty as a bar-sign that reads ‘Liquor in the front. Poker in the back.’ I spent a lot of time wondering who the actual target audience for this kind of humour is. On the one hand, the game seems to appeal to players that might resemble Larry - those who would chuckle at the crude and often blatant sex jokes. But the game often attacks these players. For instance, when interacting with an electric fan, the narrator told me, ‘This fan is old, useless, and pathetic (this game has a lot of fans like that).’ I just can’t tell whether we’re supposed to be laughing with Larry or at him.

Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded

If Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded has one thing going for it, it’s the level of detail. There are several ways Larry can interact with his environment, with icons for talking, touching, licking/sniffing, moving, and a zipper icon that does exactly what you think. Almost everything on screen is uniquely interactive with each of Larry’s available motions, adding a level of depth to the exploration - and because it’s never immediately obvious which objects are of use, you’ll be doing a lot of clicking anyway. Even the things that aren’t useful (about 99% of the things you’ll click on) provide an attempt at humour by the narrator - whether you want Larry to lick a toilet seat, poke a homeless person, or unzip his fly towards a first story window, unique responses are given.

In a medium as plagued by frequent gender debates as video gaming, is it still OK to make games like Leisure Suit Larry? Throughout the time I played, every female I encountered was attractive - the only overweight women being the target of an arcade game named Angry Broads, in which they had pig faces and were fired upon by a bra-catapult. This kind of objectification has always had a detrimental affect on the way our medium is perceived popularly, and rightly so. How can we expect gaming to be respected if such blatant misogyny is still accepted? It’s time for Larry to hang up the leisure suit.

benjimino | 17th June, 2013
JoeP's picture
Sounds like a day one purchase if ever I saw one.

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