Kickstarter is an alternative way to resurrect franchises publishers have long since buried among their more lucrative games, and one such success story with a satisfying end result can be found in N-Fusion Interactive’s Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, a point-and-click adventure game which has lost none of its bite.
Larry Laffer is trying his luck to win over the woman of his heart and maybe score before with others of the not-so-weak sex.
Looking for love in all the wrong places or people
It’s a simple story but offers enough weird situations Larry finds himself in to surprise and entertain throughout. At first seemingly sexist in its graphical depiction of women and the obvious leering remarks by the anti-hero, the game turns Larry into a very likeable character the player (both male and female) can relate to, as the encounters with all sorts of weird people who are making fun of him, present him as something of a tragi-comical figure. Humor is obviously very subjective, and even if the jokes are not for everyone, the witty script is still as spot-on funny as it was when the game was released.
Bad one-liners, crude jokes work because Al Lowe is simply aware of them being so bad and so crude, something which is lost among many comic graphic adventures today which desperately try to be intelligently or offensively funny without that self-awareness. One shouldn’t expect a lot from the simple story which mainly consists of slapstick and comic scenes. Still, characters, especially the female ones, remain memorable, even if they don’t tell their whole life stories, something which is so prevalent in contemporary adventure games failing to understand that sometimes less is more to create such characters.
Puzzle it tender or hard
Classic inventory-based puzzles are of course the bread and butter in every point-and-click adventure game, and it’s here where Leisure Suit Larry can become a bit tricky, as it’s often not exactly clear how items can be used to progress. This is due to the obscure solutions of some problems, even though they are usually pretty inventive and funny. What makes matters more difficult is that some objects are hard to make out from background graphics, something which should be a thing of the past if the developers would have decided to include a hotspot key. Unfortunately they didn’t, making hunting the screens for objects an annoying necessity. At least Larry always has something funny to say about everything he sees or touches (persons included).
Gameplay ideas time forgot
Another relic from Sierra days is the constant threat of dying. Again these can happen in the weirdest places with the most mundane actions (like flushing a toilet and drowning). Fortunately, the game at least goes back right before the point where Larry is taken to its humorous afterlife experience. Various tweaks to the puzzle design are welcome as well, so that one can still complete the game with another alternative route after missing a vital item which prohibited progress in the original game. Some extra puzzles also fit quite nicely in the game and make it also interesting for fans who played the original so many times.
There is also another dated gameplay element which could have been left out: accumulating money. It’s obviously an essential part of the world in which Larry lives in to make him pay for everything, but it can become a pain to constantly check if there’s enough cash in his pockets, especially when going by taxi from one location to another, which is extremely annoying because items and where they have to be used are rarely in the same location. Unlike the original, it’s easier to win money which was only possible in one place, while it’s now available in almost all. But it’s still a waste of time playing blackjack or one-armed bandit to accumulate it. A much more enjoyable way to pass time when one doesn’t know how to solve a certain puzzle is to simply look around and discover all sorts of little easter eggs or mini games which poke fun at today’s casual gaming industry.
Looking at and listening to the original game and even the VGA remake by Sierra in comparison to Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded makes it obvious that the graphical and especially the audio presentation couldn’t be any different in quality. Even though the animations of the NPCs aren’t very fluid and the backgrounds could have been livelier, the hand-drawn graphics look gorgeous nonetheless. The catchy soundtrack works even better which already had some memorable tunes from the PC speakers in the old days. Voice acting is also excellent throughout with every character having his or her own convincing audio part, even though the nasal tone of the narrator needs some getting used to.
Remaking done good
N-Fusion Interactive’s Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is a remake which does a lot of things right. It improves in some frustrating puzzle design parts, leaves the humor intact and adds some fun content for fans of the original. Even if the graphics can’t compete with e.g. Daedalic’s attention to detail, they are still lovely to look at, while the soundtrack is timeless and the voice acting spot-on. Unfortunately, there are still some outdated gameplay mechanics which could have used an overhaul to make it more accessible to newcomers. Still, this remains a very accomplished nostalgic trip which might not have the most refined gameplay but definitely has the heart in the right place when it comes to a funny script and likeable characters which can still stand the test of time.
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