Review by Rottenwood
Reviewed: 11/16/00 | Updated: 11/16/00
Larry Meets Political Correctness
The first Leisure Suit Larry game was a wonderfully funny satire on the mindset of the average male bachelor. The player controlled poor little middle-aged Larry, balding and clueless, and guided him on a night of sexual discovery. All Larry discovers, of course, is mostly humiliation for himself and laughter for the person behind the keyboard. However, many critics only saw the forest for the trees, as it were. Even though Larry was a bumbling dork who was almost universally outfoxed by the babes he pursued, some folks lambasted 'Leisure Suit Larry' for being offensive to women. I guess that anything in which women are seen as conquests is sexist, even if the man hardly ever conquers and makes his gender look like buffoons in the process.
Well, let me just come out and say it, even though most women and some delusional men don't want to hear it: guys want to have sex with women. It's true. If we see a woman we find attractive, we envision the possibility of having sex with them in the near future. What can I say? Every guy in the world has had many Leisure Suit Larry moments, where he forgets to see a woman as a person for a while and has his hormones take over. Are we proud of this fact? For the most part, no. Like women, most men think that bachelors-for-life are pitiable creatures who lack the strength to do something meaningful with their romantic life. In fact, aging playboys are downright hilarious, which is why 'Leisure Suit Larry' games are such a riot and sell so darn well.
What is the point of all this? I'm glad you asked. After some of the aforementioned backlash the first 'Leisure Suit Larry' game received, Al Lowe designed 'Leisure Suit Larry 2' to be a game in which the inimitable Larry Laffer goes looking for true love, rather than cheap sex. This rather obvious attempt at placating critics also sold pretty well, but prompted some Larry fans to moan that 'Leisure Suit Larry 2' wasn't dirty enough. As the old adage says, you can't please everyone. Crude 'Larry' games offend some critics, and tamer 'Larry' games offend fans looking for risque bachelor humor.
Al Lowe tries to meet both parties halfway with 'Leisure Suit Larry 3,' a game in which the hopelessly horny Larry Laffer re-emerges as a bachelor, but meets his match in the form of Passionate Patti. Patti is a wily bachelorette that the player will control halfway through the game, after Larry takes a little vacation for reasons I won't discuss for fear of spoiling the game's plot. By controlling both a man and a woman and seeing the world through each of their hormonal eyes, Al Lowe is basically saying: ''see, everyone? Both guys AND girls can be sex fiends! So just relax and stop being so uptight!'' (Well, perhaps I'm putting words in his mouth, but that's my interpretation of the whole thing.)
Anyhow, on to the game itself. (Finally.) After the shenanigans of 'Leisure Suit Larry 2,' good ol' Larry Laffer is married and settled down, relaxing in a tropical paradise. But alas, as 'Leisure Suit Larry 3' opens, he finds his wife Kalalau dumping him for a lesbian slot machine repairwoman. (Or something to that effect.) After nearly two minutes of crippling emotional turmoil, Larry decides to give up the whole 'marriage and true love' shtick and return to his bachelor roots. His game plan? Scour the nearby tropical resort and pleasure as many women as he can; which turns out to be around zero in total, for those of you keeping score at home.
The game play is standard 'Leisure Suit Larry' formula. You bump into a bunch of women, each of whom sets Larry's loins afire. But naturally, they won't give in to Larry's desires unless he brings them something they want. So the trick is to figure out what each woman needs and find out a way to get it for her, which involves the usual adventure game techniques of exploration and item manipulation. Once you've given a woman what she wants, a humiliating and unfulfilling sexual misadventure follows, which is bad for Larry but good for your funny bone. Inevitably, the 'lesser' women lead up to an encounter with the game's ultimate babe, which in this case is Passionate Patti. (I need a first name like 'Passionate.' How about Magical Morgan?)
Once Larry splits and you take control of Patti, however, the wheels begin to come off the wagon. I'm all for sexual equality, but what's the fun in playing as an attractive woman? The point of any 'Leisure Suit Larry' game is to be put down and humiliated by women who are smarter than you. Playing as a beautiful and flirtatious woman undermines the entire 'Larry' premise. The gender switch MIGHT have worked if Patti was portrayed as an unappealing dork; a female Larry Laffer, as it were. Controlling a randy but hopeless female nerd has some definite comic possibilities. But naturally, people would think it was cruel of Al Lowe to make a game where a girl is picked on by hunky men. (It's okay for women to insult men, natch, but not the other way around. Go figure.) So instead, Patti is sexy, confident, and self-assured, which makes her absolutely no fun whatsoever. Think about it: would you want to play a 'Leisure Suit Larry' game in which Larry is suddenly a suave and successful stud, thus eliminating Al Lowe's use of self-deprecating humor? I didn't think so.
As far as the puzzles go, 'Leisure Suit Larry 3' is pretty solid. Observant players will probably be able to get by without a hintbook; especially those that carefully peruse the game manual, which is chock full of clues. 'Larry' game puzzles tend to be a little less obtuse than in some of the other Sierra adventure game series, and this title is no exception. However, there are a few points in the game where if you don't take every possible item you can, you won't be able to go back and retrieve them, thus royally screwing you down the road. I shudder to think at the number of gamers who have torn their hair out trying to solve a puzzle, not knowing that the item they need is in a room they left hours ago and have completely forgotten. So make sure you scour each location thoroughly before reaching a point in the game where you think you won't be able to turn back.
The graphics in 'Leisure Suit Larry 3' are pretty good for the time the game was released. Of course, they look positively archaic in this day and age, so if you can't handle outdated graphics, this game isn't for you. The artists use an interesting array of colors in this game, and the characters look pretty good for a bunch of ancient pixels. But if you're the type who only enjoys the visual delights of newly-released titles, you can safely ignore this game and anything else made before the year 2000.
'Leisure Suit Larry 3' has very strong music for a game of its time. While there certainly isn't a full orchestral score for your enjoyment, the music staff did a heck of a job making some catchy tunes out of the more primitive sound hardware of the day. And the 'Leisure Suit Larry' theme song is as toe-tapping as ever.
The game play is standard 'Larry' fare. You walk Larry around various locations and search for girls to chase and puzzles to solve. The interface revolves around the keyboard, so you have to type in all of the commands. ('pick up rock,' 'pull lever,' etc.) Nothing's more fun than taking a little trip back to the old school of adventure gaming. Al Lowe makes a genuine attempt to break up the traditional adventure-game interface with some little cut-scenes, including a workout session for Larry and an arcade-style log ride game for Patti. But these scenes tend to be gimmicky and distracting, and add little to the overall game. Can't blame Al for tying, though.
Overall, this is a decent enough 'Leisure Suit Larry' game, but an uneven one. The humor is as potent as ever, and the tropical resort setting is ideal for a 'Larry' title. But the mid-game switch from Larry to Patti - while a novel idea - brings the game down in the end. For some reason, playing as a beautiful woman isn't nearly as much fun as being turned down by one.
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