Dust off your leisure suit and get ready to return to the not-so-fabulous city of Lost Wages, because everyone’s favorite horn-dog is back. Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded is more than just another rehash of a remake of another game that is based off of an incredibly bad text adventure. While the overall plot is the same, the guys at Replay Games and N-Fusion have updated it to the 21st century. With “papa Al” and Josh Mandel at the helm, you can be sure that it oozes that Larry charm. Which is a bit disgusting, because you don’t want to know what that “ooze” is. Replay ran a Kickstarter last year that ended on May 2, and made $655,182 not counting the PayPal donations. For a link to the project, you can click here. You can purchase it from their Web site or from other distributors.
In case you don’t know the original story, you play as the lovable loser, Larry Laffer, out to get laid (try to say that three times fast). You arrive just outside a rather seedy bar named Lefty’s and dropped into the game with little money and no clue (which you never had one to begin with) of where to go. The brief tutorial, voiced by Al Lowe himself, should get you started if you’re not familiar with the retro-style Sierra menus. There are essentially four ways that you can navigate these menus. There’s a menu “bar” at the top that drops down when the cursor is moved there, you can hold down the left mouse button and get a radial menu (think Curse of Monkey Island), or you can rotate through them by either right-clicking the mouse or scrolling with the mouse wheel.
If you’re familiar with the original EGA or VGA remake by Sierra On-Line, you’ll already know that it’s a pretty short game. If you rush through and skip all of the optional dialog you’ll probably finish within a couple of hours. But why should you? Almost everything that you can click on has its own hilarious response, usually spoken by the narrator or Larry himself. It’s pretty obvious that both Al and Josh put a lot of effort to make “pixel hunting” fun. And they delivered. There are plenty of crude jokes and pop-culture references to make anybody with even the remotest taste cringe.
The voice acting is top notch, too. They managed to snag Jan Rabson to voice the titular hero, who also did so in the previous two Larry games (Shape Up or Slip Out & Love for Sail). And he brings back the nasally charm that anyone who’s played those games remembers. They tried to get Neil Ross to reprise his role as the narrator, but were unable to. Instead, they got the talented Brad Venable and he did an amazing job playing off of Rabson’s Larry. The conversations between the two are some of the most hilarious that I’ve seen in recent gaming.
And speaking of the voice acting, you should check out the cabaret in Caesar’s Phallus (the casino). There are two acts that you just HAVE to see. The comedian is back, this time voiced by Josh Mandel. He still tells horrible jokes, but they’re different than the ones in the previous incarnations. There are three “sets” that you should really sit through. If you’re a real masochist, maybe sit through them several times. The other act, though, is the star. Josh Mandel and Austin Wintory wrote a special song in tribute to the backers of the Kickstarter campaign that was ran last year to get funding. And it is sung beautifully by Melora Hardin.
Where the soundtrack is concerned, Austin Wintory did a great job in helping to bring the ambiance of Lost Wages to life. From the opening theme, which seamlessly and expertly transitions from the original 8-bit song into a full big band orchestral number, to the end credits, which also features a great big band number, he weaves a tapestry of music that evokes the feeling of actually being in the world of Leisure Suit Larry. My personal favorite track would have to be “Tiers of Joy”, the aforementioned lounge act.
In addition to the old areas seen before, there are new locations to explore. Every one is a sight to see and look great in their cartoonish look. Most of these new “rooms” are located in the casino, particularly the buffet (shown above) and the aquarium (which you can see from the elevator lobby and is located on the second floor). And even the old areas look amazing, a huge step up from the previous versions. You can tell a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluids were put into this game just by the way it looks and sounds.
And speaking of good-looking graphics, what would a Larry game be without gorgeous babes? And they are absolutely stunning. The highlight of the reloaded version is definitely the interaction with the five women. Larry hitting on them and striking out is a hallmark of the series. The humor that ensues and the puzzles that are required to try to get into their pants (and ultimately failing) are some of the best since Love for Sail. You have the original four (the hooker, Fawn, Faith, and Eve) and, with the stretch goal reached for a new girl you have Jasmine. The best part of the addition is that the type of girl was voted on by the backers. It was practically unanimous that we wanted an Asian girl to finally make an appearance.
Don’t bother trying to use a walkthrough for the previous versions as they won’t work here. While there are a few puzzles that are practically one-for-one the same, most have been tweaked or completely redone. It was their intention to completely break anything that was already existing on the Internet and they certainly managed to do that. I’ve seen lots of people already asking for hints on how to find the password or how to get the pills, for instance. There’s one puzzle, in particular, that plays out as a hidden object game, almost universally shunned by hardcore adventure gamers.
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: BACKER SPOTLIGHT
Congratulations on reading this far. I have a companion video planned to be released soon, which will be shared with you, the loyal reader. It will focus on all of the highballers (see what I did there?) who gave generously of their wallets to see Larry come again. In the meantime, you should check them out yourself. Planted conspicuously around the dumps of Lost Wages you’ll find people at Lefty’s, in the disco, shopping at the Come-n-Go, or just wandering the streets. And don’t forget to check out the Larrywood “Walk of Shame” and set your sights on the stars (try to say THAT three times fast). If you’re playing on Steam, you might even unlock ACTUAL achievements instead of the shameless ploy to trick you into reading past the end of the review.
I do want to point out that Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded isn't perfect. It has its problems, most notably the lack of a language selection in the game. There is a workaround, but it's far from an ideal solution. You need go into your system's regional settings and change it to the language that you want. It has been looked at and I was hoping that a solution could have been implemented before the game went live, but it's not as simple as some people might think. With the limitations of Unity, the underlying platform used to build the game, it might not even be possible. That doesn't mean that it's not being looked at. Perhaps it can be patched in at a later date. Until then, I suggest using the steps above if you want to play it in a language other than your system's.
There are other minor annoyances, but overall the experience is worth it. It has been 17 years since we last saw a Larry game developed by Al Lowe and this latest entry to reboot the franchise is a breath of fresh air. Which is a lot more than can be said about Larry's breath. If you're a fan of "old school" point-and-click adventure games, particularly from the Sierra catalog, then you should definitely pick up a copy. I enjoyed the nostalgic trip back in time to the '80s, and I'm sure you will too.