by Marcus Mulkins, reviewed on
An established game series gets in touch with itself
Even if you've never played a LSL game, you've heard about them. And like many other games, the titles alone offered up a very narrow range of expectations: In the Land of Lounge Lizards, Looking For Love, Passionate Patti in Pursuit of Pulsating Pectorals, Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work, Shape Up or Slip Out, Love For Sail, and Magna Cum Laude. Just from those titles alone, what would you expect to find inside?
LSL is, in fact, all about sex. Or, rather, about blatant, bash-them-over-the-head-until-the-idea-sinks-in suggestions about sex. To be more specific, the games were about a series of challenges confronting the hapless (and nigh on hopeless) protagonist as he endeavoured to get la-, uhm, lucky. The REAL challenge, however, since the series launched in 1987, has been for publisher Sierra On-Line to see just how blatant they could make the sexual innuendos before they crossed the line and got classified as softporn. Ironically, the series can trace a direct line back to Sierra's very first text-only adventure game Softporn Adventure, released in 1981. Besides being, well, very soft porn, it bears the distinction of being Sierra Entertainment's _only_ game completely devoid of graphics. (Oh, well. Good sex is all in your mind anyway. Who needs pictures?)
Concerning the ins and outs of developing a game series
When your subject matter is limited to one very narrow slice of human behaviour, what can you do for a sequel? What can you do for a seventh sequel? There's only so many times you can dump in certain toilet humor references or allusions to certain fetishes before the audience starts to complain, "We've seen all this before!" In fact, the main composer of the series, Al Lowe, jumped ship shortly after Love For Sail sailed off into the sunset. At that point, Sierra recognized that Larry Laffer was getting a little long in the tooth. So how do you continue a series that follows Leisure Suit _Larry_? Why, you carry on the fine family tradition by bringing in his nephew, Larry Lovage. (Why on Earth would any knowledgeable siblings willingly name any of their sons after their loser brother? It would be like deliberately cursing the kid!) With the departure of Al Lowe, Sierra picked High Voltage Games, Inc. to give the game a new direction. The result was a Magna Cum Laude devoid of the innuendos and multiple-entendres, replaced by in-your-face, blatant, obscene, gross one-liners and a wealth of toilet-quality humour. Gone too was the puzzle-solving Adventure elements that had been the backbone of a LSL game, replaced by a series of twitch mini-games. The game initially released as an "Adults Only" game, but Sierra persuaded the ESRB to drop that to "M for Mature" by doing a severe edit job. (Most of the cut content actually remained, hidden away as "Easter eggs".)