In 1987, Al Lowe, in collaboration with other point-and-click legends Ken Williams and Mark Crowe, released Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards under Sierra On-Line. The story of a middle-aged virgin desperately searching for sexual fulfilment was a sleeper hit due to its mixture of risqué humour and brash attitude, with some still considering it one of the best games of all time. However, following a long stream of sequels and the dwindling involvement of Lowe, the series’ quality fell and the subtle charm which once was so central became a distant memory. The final game, Box Office Bust, finally broke the camel’s back and was so heavily panned by critics that it has been listed as one of the worst games ever by a variety of sources.
However, the series was not beyond redemption; In 2012 following the rise of Kickstarter and the success of a variety of other similar projects, Replay Games, with the help of Al Lowe, began a scheme to bring a remake to the masses, updating it with full HD graphics, voice acting, and adding new content.
After surpassing its original goal by $155,182, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards RELOADED is almost finished. Pushed back from its original release date of the end of May 2013 to an estimated release of late June, the current Beta is marred by a large selection of bugs. However, having seen the tremendous effort being made in an attempt to fix said bugs and having previewed a good few hours of the game, I’m optimistic.
It’s obvious that Reloaded is a labour of love from the titles, with the original music blending into a fully-realised cacophony of sound, and it just gets better from there. From the first time you try to cross a road to the “lubber” scene, the entirety has been recreated both authentically and beautifully, with updated, stylised animation which puts other titles to shame. The voice acting on show is superb; it’s clear that each was hand-picked by Lowe as his perfect imagining of each character. The addition of such adds extra levels of personality that was limited by the technology of the original release; this is the game LSL could have been had the technology been there at the time.
The puzzles remain as fun to experience as they were originally, and, as it always has been, it is in searching for solutions to said puzzles that a majority of the game’s fun can be found. From bestiality references to cheap pussy gags, if that sort of humour appeals you can’t find much better than Larry.
It’s difficult not to compare RELOADED to the 2009 Special Edition of The Secret of Monkey Island, due to the both updated and upgraded nature of both. While Monkey Island was a decent graphical and audio update of the original, with the ability to switch between the two versions, there was very little new content and thereby little reason for fans who had played the originals to return to the series aside from nostalgia. LSL RELOADED however is much more than this, perhaps due to its nature as a kickstarter project. The references have been updated, with new elements and comedy added and certain token characters replaced by ones based on high-spending backers. Whilst this backer-pandering can at times seem excessive, it comes as a chance to include new content and interaction with Larry which tells us a little more about his character. In fact, the inclusion of new characters, if only in passing, reinvigorates the otherwise flat nature of some of the original cast. Other kickstarter based references, including the walk of shame, are a subtle yet potent use of original material which fits into the world without question.
All in all RELOADED is shaping up to be a fantastic renewal of a fallen franchise, with plenty of fan-service. Although the variety of bugs at this point lead to unfortunate graphical mishaps, with the continued TLC which is very much at the centre of this project we could be looking at a remake for the ages, and hopefully the start of a stream of similar Adventure Game Remakes.