|If only it were 1990 and this game was 'Coming Soon'...|
Leisure Suit Larry 5 was developed and published by Sierra Entertainment and released in America in 1991. Some of you older gamers might remember the LSL series, the brain-child of programmer Al Lowe. It was a raunchy series filled with both hilarity and bewbs, aimed at the older crowd. Let's check out the 5th (and in my humble opinion, best) entry in this exceedingly strange series.
The story for LSL5 requires some understanding of who the main character, Larry Laffer, is. Normally, I'd write this up myself, but the Wikipedia entry is just too hilarious:
"According to his creator [Al Lowe], Larry was a nerdy geek all his life and eventually became a computer programmer. He never had close relations with friends, women, or his colleagues, and every day of his life was identical. He lived with his mother and brother. Around his 38th birthday, his brain hit a sexual alarm and started having his first kinky thoughts. He started reading adult magazines and could not concentrate on his work. Because of this his life was destroyed; he was fired from his job, and upon returning home he found his house had been sold and his mother had left for vacation.
He then decided to turn a page forward in his life; he left everything and decided to live the wild life. He moved to the city of Lost Wages, where, being a fan of the '70s, and assuming that '70s styles were still trendy, he bought a polyester leisure suit and gold chains. He sold his VW 'bug' to a junkyard for $94 and ended up in front of Lefty's Bar, where the first game, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, begins."
Leisure Suit Larry 5 stars the same lovable Larry in yet another quest for the elusive vagina. The premise relies on the idea that there was no Leisure Suit Larry 4. There were a few reasons why there was no 4th game; primarily, though, a planned 4th entry would be an online game, allowing players to interact with each other over Sierra's popular online network. Technology at that point wasn't quite up to snuff, though, so it was abandoned. Al Lowe, disgusted with this, declared that there would never be a Leisure Suit Larry 4. Indeed, the first three games played like a trilogy with a complete ending after the 3rd game. When he began working on the 4th game, Lowe was unsure of how to continue the story. Basically, he joked that the floppy disks for the game were lost, so he could start fresh on the 5th title. This also proved him correct in saying there would never be a Leisure Suit Larry 4.
The story revolves around Larry and his old flame, Passionate Patti. A man named Julius Biggs has stolen the floppies for LSL4, causing Larry to have amnesia. Larry's now in the adult film industry, working for a company called PornProdCorp, a seedy Mafia-connected enterprise. His boss sends him around the country to scout for (and maybe even seduce) models to appear in their newest video series, America's Sexiest Home Videos. Larry's chosen because, as his boss says, they need someone who's so disgusting and nerdy that only the most attractive women on Earth could find him sexy.
Patti also stars in this one; you play as her for half of the game. In this title, she's working in a dive strip bar with dreams of becoming a famous pianist. As she leaves the bar at the start of the game, she's approached by the FBI to try to find evidence of two big record companies implanting subliminal messages in their albums.
At the same time, PornProdCorp tries to eliminate all competition by donating money to CANE (Conservatives Against Nearly Everything). All three storylines converge at the end.
All you need to know is that this game is completely hilarious. The entirety of it is filled with juvenile humor and references to what a geek Larry is. If you don't laugh while playing this game, you're taking life entirely too seriously.
The graphics are nothing special. I mean, things move smoothly and look as they should for a 1991 Sierra game. It's not too pixel-y and there's fairly liquid movement throughout. There are some hilarious 'adult' scenes interspersed, none of which will exactly get your juices flowing.
|Oh yeah, baby, shake those pixels!|
The key, though, is that this game plays more like an interactive comic than anything, and so the graphics really do matter considerably. That being said, you'll never be confused as to what's going on in the game visually (well, you will, but not because of bad graphics, just because of completely 'what the fuck'-inducing visuals).
Put it this way: they came a long way since Leisure Suit Larry 1.
|Pictured: Ladies' Man.|
As I mentioned earlier, this game plays a lot like an interactive comic of sorts. It's an adventure game, similar to the previous games in the series as well as other classic adventure games like Space Quest. However, LSL5 wasn't a text-based adventure game. Rather than typing in explicitly what you wanted Larry to do, it had a GUI with different icons you could pick to make Larry do different things. There were basic icons like some to make him walk, talk to people, pick up objects, and examine objects...others were more silly, like the one icon (a zipper) that removed the clothes (or tried to) of whatever you clicked on. This led to some hilarious text boxes coming on screen when you tried to do things like unzip a statue.
The game switches you from controlling Larry to controlling Patti at various intervals, walking through their respective stories. Both are equally entertaining, though Larry's sections stand out as being much more fun, in my opinion.
This game is interesting in that it's impossible to die. Unlike most adventure games, you can never be trapped and you can never die, and the game can't be put in an 'unwinnable' state. Losing is literally impossible. While this really reduces the difficulty, it also makes it a bit more accessible. I don't know how many of you played older text-adventure games, but the constant deaths do get frustrating after a while.
There's a point system in this game, like in many other old (especially Sierra) text-adventures. Doing certain things at certain times will increase your points (like examining a statue of some boobs), as will advancing the story. The score is largely meaningless other than to give you something to shoot for. Lots of objects you can pick up will increase your score and give you bonus dialogues later on, but most of them are largely superfluous to completing the game.
This game also had an interesting copyright protection system. Whenever you travel on an airplane (which is quite often), a certain code needs to be put in to get your ticket, based on where the flight is going and when it leaves the airport. This doesn't present a problem these days because the passwords are all online, released by Al Lowe himself, but when I was a kid, I remember this used to drive me batshit when I couldn't find the game manual.
Here's a video showing the first few minutes of real gameplay. Keep in mind, the walking speed can be increased to A LOT faster than what this guy has it set as.
The sound in LSL5 is pretty underwhelming. Like a lot of games I've reviewed, the sound effects weren't so great. In fact, they were even kind of shitty. Lots of lag in the noises, and they tended to be very basic internal-speaker-sounding noises.
The music, on the other hand, was...well, also not that great. There were some totally decent tracks, don't get me wrong, but overall, it was a pretty mediocre soundtrack. Luckily, the great gameplay and humor make up for this.
Apparently, the games I review have hit a new level of obscurity. This is the first one that I couldn't find a sample of JUST the music from this game. I suppose in lieu of that, I'll refer you to the above video for a small taste of the music and especially the shitty sound effects.
Replay Value: 5/10
This game gets a big, hearty "meh" in this category from me. It's not that it's not worth replaying, it's just that you won't exactly be running to your PC to play it again immediately after you finish it. Nonetheless, give it a year or two after playing through this one and I guarantee you'll want to play it again. The big thing making you come back will be trying to figure out all the little things you need to do to get a perfect score.
That, and the humor.
I hope you'll give this game a shot. Larry's chauvinistic, raunchy, geeky, horny, vile, dorky, and lovable beyond all reason. The whole series is worth a playthrough, but this is the one I have the most fond memories of playing.
And remember, the Hooter Shooter is sexy, sure--but with a license to kill.
Below is a collection of Leisure Suit Larry 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6, all on CD rather than floppies.