Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
It was a long time between drinks for Larry, if you don't count collections and a Casino game. So long (8 years actually) that the original Larry (Laffer) is only a passing character, and it's his nephew Larry (Lovage) that is the Larry of choice. As the title suggests, Larry is off to university, and is keen to get down and dirty.
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude was actually banned in Australia, ostensibly because it contained "obscured and/or implied sexual activity and obscured and partial nudity involving stylised, animated characters". Apparently, it wasn't even the "uncut" European version that was banned, but the more modest cut-down version available in North America.
It's a shame it was banned for that reason. If our Office of Film and Literature Classification board had been protecting us from this game on the basis that it has no artistic or adventure game merit whatsoever, that it was verging on the criminal to expect anyone to pay for it, or perhaps even that saying rude words and simulating sex with animated figures is neither clever or funny in and of itself, then it might have had my support.
Sexual innuendo can indeed be funny. In fact, so can outright sex. And many things which fall within the sensitive area of being "politically incorrect" can also be funny if presented and received in the right way.
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is, however, just crass.
I had never played a Larry game, but have them all on my shelf (hopeless collector that I am). I decided to start with the latest and clearly should have started at least one back.
Having done a little research, and had a brief look at the previous game, Leisure Suite Larry: Love For Sail, (which I will play and review as a comparison), much is different. You don't solve puzzles anymore; instead, you play little arcade games in order to win a token of affection from female characters, and possibly also to "jump their bones".
You don't even play a lot of different games, having to repeat the same ones (albeit with some slight variations) over and over. There are a number of variants of "simon says" where you have to strike the right sequence of keys in the time allowed or at the right time, a few variants of being chased whilst collecting items, and a little game whereby you steer a sperm along the bottom of the screen trying to collect hearts and avoiding the various other obstacles, many with "hilarious" (not) consequences. This latter one you play over and over. There are others, none any more interesting, and certainly not for the 17th time. The game of quarters drove me nuts, although I did find the game where you feed monkeys/serve drinks/hand out flyers etc., not too bad.
There are 3 target women on each level. Make it to the end of the particular set of games with two of them and you can enter Swingles, which simply means play another game which, if you win, you can move on a level and get access to three more girls. And so on.
There are side quests you can do, and tokens and money to collect. Money means you can buy things, usually alcohol. Larry gets drunk which affects his motor skills, which in essence means your keyboard control becomes sluggish and hit and miss. Sober up by buying coffee or urinating. Urinate in public and your confidence goes down, seemingly dependent upon how many people saw you. Apart from having to have good confidence to get some of the girls to talk to you, I am not sure what the worst effects of bad confidence are, as I didn't care and didn't see the game through till the end.
I persisted to the 5th level. I gave up just as I had gathered the token from the now lesbian character who had become a lesbian as a result of an earlier encounter with Larry, a teddy bear, and a strap on dildo. Any enjoyment had long gone, but in the interests of giving the game a fair go I was determined to try and reach the end. Level 5 was probably 4 more than it deserved.
If you find tokens you can in fact "wimp out" of any of the challenges by spending the amount of tokens charged. It's a good way of enabling you to bypass the arcade games. Except that's pretty much all there is in terms of game play. But it does mean you can move on.
You can find tokens in many places by activating the look button. Usually, though, you will just fart. A little counter thoughtfully keeps track of your farts.
Tokens can also be spent on bonuses. There are a variety of these. They include getting access to concept art, looking at nude models of the animated characters, or access to "naughtier" load screens. There are an awful lot of these (load screens) generally consisting of either an animated or real females in a sultry pose. You never know, though, which load screen you will get, so you might have to wait a while to get your "naughty" payoff for your tokens spent.
At one stage the original Larry sitting in a bar laments "whatever happened to point and click". He should have pined more generally for the Larry franchise. The opening 5 minutes of Love For Sail has more humour and merit than I found in the hours I wasted on this.
There is more I could tell you but I won't. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is not sexy or clever, entertaining or witty. Call me a fuddy duddy if you will, but my recommendation is to go play something - almost anything - else.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2006.
All rights reserved.
Windows 98/SE/Me/2000/XP, Pentium III 800 MHz (with 133 MHz front side bus) or AMD Athlon, 256 MB RAM, 24x CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, DirectX 9.0-compatible 32 MB video card, DirectX 9.0-compatible sound card, DirectX 9.0 or higher.