Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Review by akuma634
"It's not as awesome as the originals but it was still a good game"
I've played the original Leisure Suit Larry and I've beaten part 6 Shape Up Or Slip Out, two very awesome mature games before ratings were even officially implemented. I've also read the novelizations of the first three games which were very awesome and sadly I can't seem to find anywhere nowadays. Needless to say that when I heard they were making a new Larry game, I was very excited. There was plenty of bad news like that since VU Games bought everything Serra created that they wanted to take the game in their own direction and not even ask the series creator for any input. That alone turned off a lot of the core fans of the series and with good reason. If you aren't familiar with the original games, they were point and click adventure games with some very challenging puzzles based around talking to people to progress the plot, finding and collecting items for puzzles, and the goal is for Larry to meet the woman of his dreams (only for the love to comically go sour for the next game.) This game dumped nearly everything in favor of a sandbox game based around minigames. Not a change that I'm very fond of but the humor really works well enough to compensate for removing all the thinking from the gameplay. I bought this game for the PC the day it came out (and ended up having to use a hex editor to uncensor the game) and later I bought the uncensored retail version online which really did add enough variations on scenes to make it worth getting over the censored M rated version. It's been a year or more since I've played the game because my new PC runs on Windows 7 64-bit which is incompatible with a lot of games. I'm going by memory for this review.
Story - 8.5/10
From early on VU Games wanted to give the game a collage setting and take after classic movies like Animal House. The problem is that Larry Laffer debuted in the first Leisure Suit Larry as a forty year old virgin who left his parent's house, sold his Barry Manilow record and 8-track collection, bought a leisure suit, and headed to Lost Wages looking for love. Even if they turned back time and set the game in the 70's, it wouldn't make sense for Larry Laffer to score and setting it in the 2000's would be weird with a guy somewhere between 50 and 60 trying to hook up with college girls. So they created a new dorky protagonist named Larry Lovage, the nephew of Larry Laffer. Lovage is a total dork but he doesn't wear a leisure suit. In the game you start with no popularity and really you're the biggest tool on campus. Your goal is to hook up with as many babes as you can and become the most popular guy on campus. Every woman you meet has her own personality and they're all really fun to talk to, the goal is for Larry to play the minigames to impress them and eventually he'll get as far as he can or maybe get in the bedroom with some of them. The supporting cast is just as colorful and there are plenty of typical characters for this plot like the evil dean who is in it for Larry from the start. The main plot of the game is Larry trying to get on a tv dating show called Swingles but he has to get tokens of affection from enough women to be eligible for the show. As the game goes on you get further with the dating show and closer to finding the love of your life.
Graphics - 7/10
The new art style was a very weird choice. Most of the NPC's look cartoonish and have some exaggerated features while Larry is a few foot shorter than everyone else, has a giant head, giant facial features, and generally he doesn't look anything like the other humans in the game. I have no idea why they went in that direction. Aside from characters which for the most part look good enough, the campus is very colorful and has plenty of variety to it. You can go to other locations in the game too and they do have their own distinct looks like the "Crappy Streets" really live up to the name with trash in the streets, sleazy strip clubs, XXX theaters, and scuzzy bars. There isn't really a lot to write home about but it isn't a bad looking game at all.
Humor - 9/10
A sense of humor is the driving force of this game in the same way that fast paced action is what drives Halo. This game isn't anything like the humor of the original games but it is a lot funnier than a lot of comedy based games of the 2000's. Every character has plenty of room for comedy and almost everything Larry says is really funny. The best part of the game is the conversation minigame and there is a lot of reason to replay those conversations because you make Larry say all kinds of goofy stuff from referencing Welcome Back Kotter, making fun of Hayden Christensen, talking about male genitalia out of nowhere, and telling plenty of very embarrassing personal stories. One of my personal favorites is where there's a female mime so Larry just rants the whole time and you can make him say some silly stuff like he'll accuse her of being a clown and he complains about her "clown buddy" Sandman Sims who kicked him off the stage when he was performing at The Apollo. In some responses you can make him say he was performing his drag revue as Bette Milder, he was abducted by aliens, and he was caught in a compromising position with Luthor Vandross. Sure playing it straight is still funny but making Larry sound like a bad pathological liar gives the game a lot more replay value. The only real problem is that they do have plenty of characters like Russel or The Commissar who were made just for this game and Larry and the rest of the cast acts like they've known these people for years so there's plenty of inside jokes that really make no sense at all.
Gameplay - 7/10
The game has 5 different minigames that you need to complete to make it further with each girl. Each girl does have their own set of games and as you would expect the games get a lot harder later in the game. You do get the option to wimp out if the game gets too hard, you lose some points but you can still beat the game and get a better score from the pause menu or after you beat the game. The first minigame is Chat which is the very best feature in the game. There will be a box on the bottom of the screen and you guide a smiling sperm through three sections of the box. The goal is to move it to the green icons and the helpful icons. The good conversation icons raise the meter more and there's red icons that make Larry say stupid things as well as lots of red icons that make Larry burp or fart which lowers the meter. The goal is to keep the meter in the green or you have to start over. There is also beer mugs that make your control more sluggish and ice that freeze you and often makes you take a lot of burps and farts. Being drunk also carries over to free roam where you stumble around until you urinate (anywhere will do.) Dancing is a typical rhythm game without anything special, it's not much fun to play. Trampoline is just like dancing but you see the characters jump and do tricks. Serve is just like the classic arcade game Root Beer Tapper and a few characters have missions where you do variations on it. Quarters is actually pretty fun, it's one of the only minigames that feels good using a mouse for. You just wind back and flick the quarter, if you land it, the woman takes a drink but if you miss you take a drink, in the end whoever is standing wins. The extra games that aren't part of the plot are panty raids where you grab the floating underwear and get out before getting clobbered. The other is where you play a very sexual Pong type game which raises Larry's confidence because if he's too shot down then he won't be as useful. Aside from minigames, you get to freely explore the game and you can find secret tokens which can be spent to unlock things like sexy photos of the women of the game, new load screens, and more.
Sound - 8/10
There is quite a bit of voice acting and they do have lines for all of Larry's conversation paths so there is plenty of variety. Everyone really sounds like their character and nobody really sounds bad at all. There are a few licensed songs like 2 Live Cru's "Me So Horny," Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," and Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls." They also have some good sound effects for various things like minigames or even sexual noises. Overall it's solid in the sound department.
Controls - 7/10
I've only played this game on PC so going by keyboard and mouse to beat the game a few times, it's not a problem. The only thing that is kind of annoying are the rhythm games since you need to hit the keys and sometimes a mouse button. Quarters and chat work really smooth. You can really tell that they were making a console game first and slap it on the PC.
Replay value - 8/10
The game length is just right for a game like this but when you've beat the main story there is some fun stuff to go back for. If you're playing the uncensored version or modded the original then there's a secret you can unlock after beating the game where all the women are totally nude all the time. The only downside is in the convenience store there is a fat, hideous, old hag named Sweet Lou who is also nude. You can spend your secret tokens on some other cool stuff like the endings that you didn't pick. The best reason to keep playing is that every minigame is playable from the pause menu so you just pick a woman, pick which section, and replay it. Obviously replaying the conversations is the reason you'd want to do that. Just keep making Larry say the stupidest stuff he can and it really gets stupid funny like "What the hell is 'Star Wars?" or "I was there when he (Willie Nelson) shot Burt Reynolds!"
By no means it is a perfect game or a must own game but it's nowhere near as bad as some people make it to be. I remember X-Play gave it a 2/5 which is just a bad review, especially since they gave another very repetitive game driven by the game few lame minigames over and over and over a 4/5. Some critics were way too harsh on the game and more internet gamers were even more hard on the game. I'll admit that the minigames do get annoying later in the game but it's the humor and conversations that make it worth playing. I can't even imagine what went wrong for Leisure Suit Larry's Box Office Bust, I mean for a real sequel just keep the conversations, use better minigames with more variety, and more sex jokes not remove nearly all the sexual content and make it use awful platforming and driving. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude really is the last good Larry game and the end of an icon. It will probably be looked back on as a bad cash in sequel but I think it's a good gem of that era in gaming. Not to mention how many games made in the 2000's weren't all shades of gray and chock full of grit, it's nice to see a game with a sense of humor actually getting made. If you do get the game then be sure to buy the Uncut and Uncensored version because even modding the M rated version does have plenty of scenes that can't be restored.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/10/10
Game Release: Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude - Uncut and Uncensored (US, 10/26/04)
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