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Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

Review By:  Greg Lynch

Developer:  High Voltage Software
Publisher:  Sierra
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Action Adventure
ESRB:  Mature
Online Play:  No
Accessories:  Memory Unit, HDTV 480p
Date Posted: 

11-15-04

Regardless of whether you liked the content or not, the Leisure Suit Larry series was an icon in the gaming world. Adding a bit of naughtiness to the thriving adventure game genre, it was really the first mainstream game for your PC that was completely non-PC, and it was surprisingly popular.

Fast forward fifteen years later and the once-thriving graphic adventure genre is nearly dead, but the desire for nudity and naughtiness in videogames is stronger than ever. In a time when boobies sell even the worst videogames in spades, what better time to dust off the series that basically started it all?

Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (LSL: MCL) is Sierra’s attempt to introduce a whole new generation to the Leisure Suit Larry series, and while it’s feet are firmly planted in all the things that made the series great, it’s clearly a whole new game. Dumping the point and click (and text-based) adventure format used by the originals, LSL: MCL is now essentially a collection of minigames tied together with some open-ended exploration, a fantastic sense of humor, and lots and lots of nudity.

The game now stars Larry Lovage, nephew to the original’s Larry Laffer, who is going to college and trying his best to score in the grand tradition of his uncle. As luck would have it, the dating show Swingles is on campus and Larry must do his best to convince the host that he isn’t the loser he appears to be by offering tokens of “affection” as proof of his ability to appeal to the opposite sex. The situations that occur after that are all classic Leisure Suit Larry, as he fumbles his way from one girl to the next with some surprisingly hilarious results.

Of course, as I mentioned before, the earlier adventure-style puzzles have been replaced by minigames to appeal to a new, more twitch happy audience. You’ll find yourself jumping through hoops for each new girl by repeating (and repeating, and repeating) short arcade sequences like playing quarters, dance rhythm games, reflex games, a clone of the classic game Tapper, collect-the-(fill-in-the-blank)-without-getting-caught games, and my least favorite, photograph a man’s unit (okay, there’s also photographing other stuff, but that’s the one that sticks out solidly in my mind). It goes without saying that these games can grow horribly tedious over time, especially those that have to be repeated over and over for money, a commodity that becomes required in endless supply toward the end of the game. However, for the most part, each game is varied in some way by the circumstances that surround it, and the whole game is virtually saved by the game’s clever dialogue that takes place during each progressively difficult, but ultimately identical sequence.

For example, playing quarters is nothing more than pulling the left stick back slightly then pushing forward just enough not to under or overshoot the glass. Yet, each situation features a different girl you’ve met, and each has a handful of original spoken dialog that keeps the whole thing from growing stale. Does it altogether stop the minigames from becoming boring over time? No, but it helps a great deal and makes that (admittedly huge) portion of the game a lot more bearable.

All the hard work would be for nothing if not for the fruits of your labor, and those with a penchant for polygonal nudity will be rewarded for all their hard work. From gratuitous sex scenes, to strip trampoline, to nudie model viewers, you will see more porn than in any console game you’ve played to date. It’s safe to say this game earns its mature rating and then some, but somehow none of it feels forced. Unlike a game like BMX XXX, the nudity and humor don’t feel like a gimmick, nor do they make you feel particularly “dirty”. To put it another way, if your spouse (or significant other, or best friend, or maybe your poodle) walked in on you playing BMX XXX you might jump in front of the television in shame, whereas LSL: MCL would likely have them sitting down next to you to watch for a chuckle. The game definitely maintains a level of “class”, for lack of a better word, when using nudity, and that says a lot about how well that portion of the game is put together.

From a technical standpoint, the game has its ups and downs. The graphics are cartoonish in presentation, and look bright and clean overall. The character designs are fantastic, with each doe-eyed curvaceous girl looking great and a good mix of random people that don’t just look like placeholder art. The environments are well designed and lush with scurrying squirrels, objects that get kicked out of the way when you walk over them, and other such things. However, all of this comes at a serious cost in the form of horrendous load times. Each small section still requires anywhere from 15-30 seconds to load, which by itself doesn’t seem like much. But when you couple those load times with something like a trip from your dorm room to the bar we’re talking about four or five of those in a row which really slows the pace of the game. The developers do offer up a diversion in the form of some Maxim-style (containing real models and computer ones) wallpapers to keep you entertained, but hopefully you’ll have a computer near you to surf the net between scenes, or you can use one of those moments to read the scant ten-page manual that comes with the game. Or, in my case, I wrote a good portion of this review (don’t worry, I completed the game before getting this far).

The audio is easily the game’s strongest point (unless you’re one of the pervs who really likes the polygonal nudity, in which case it’s the game’s second strongest point). Each character features full voiceover work, all of which is delivered perfectly and is some of the best I’ve heard in the industry. Of course all of that would be for nothing if not for the great writing, and this game has some absolutely fantastic dialogue. Whether it’s one of the many obscure references to movies, or the thoughts Larry has when examining an object, the jokes almost never fall flat and you’ll find that it’s easily one of the best reasons for sticking with this game through to the end. But be warned that many of the jokes are juvenile in nature, and if you’re not a fan of, say, a movie like Animal House, there’s really no reason for you to even bother. The game is definitely made for an audience of a particular mindset, and you’d do well to make sure you’re one of them. 

Highs:

  • Vibrant graphics with a good sense of style
  • Brilliant dialogue with a great sense of (potty) humor
  • Great voiceover work
  • Lots and lots of cartoon nudity (if you’re into that sort of thing)

Lows:

  • Small selection of decent minigames that eventually becomes somewhat boring and repetitive
  • Longest… load times… ever!
  • Lots and lots of cartoon nudity (if you’re not into that sort of thing)

Final Verdict: 

Despite the repetitive nature of the minigames, I still found myself having a good time finishing it just for the sake of finding out what would happen next. This is definitely one of the rare cases when the story drives the game instead of the gameplay. Just think of the whole experience as an interactive movie instead of a game and you’ll likely find yourself having a good time despite it all. With tons of humor that will be immediately familiar to fans of the series, it’ll likely be the first time you perverts can walk out of a store with a game like this not tucked away in a paper bag. Just make sure you’ve got the patience required to make it through to the enjoyable parts.

Overall Score: 7.3

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