Monday, June 21, 2010

Video game number one hundred and seventy two: Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust

Video game review number one hundred and seventy two in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust".

I have a fond memory of playing one of the first Leisure Suit Larry games on my friend's PC one Friday night before either of us had a driver's license, a girlfriend...or a snowball's chance in hell of getting either one any time soon. The school week was over, and I'm sure we had an awesome weekend of Street Fighter at the AM/PM, WWF on television and Columns on the Sega Genesis planned.

What made this particular weekend special is that my buddy had somehow gotten his hands on a brand new computer game. It was a "Bad" game, and I couldn't wait to see it. Before we were able to boot this forbidden software, we had to enter a fake birthday to indicate that we were in fact, a person over the age of 18. On top of that, we had to answer several age verification questions. If memory serves, the questions ranged from "Name all four Beatles" to "Who was the first American to land on the moon?". Some of them were tougher, but they were all multiple choice, and even though there was no "Google" when I was a kid....we were smart enough to easily figure out the answers and "crack" our way into this game after a few tries.

What awaited did not disappoint. You controlled a guy named Larry, only...he wasn't like any video game character I'd controlled before. Larry could pee in the toilet! He could fart! He could make jokes about boobs, or walk up to a girl and flirt. If he was successful, you'd see a picture of a digital girl with a lot of cleavage...which was basically porn for us at the time. You did all these things by typing in text phrases and hoping the computer understood them. The game might sound silly and fairly tame by today's standards, but that was a different time, and back then....a game like this was excellent, risque fun. Our parents probably would have taken it away if they'd known we had access to a game like this...and that was half the fun. If you were a nerd and wanted to be a rebel, playing a game like Leisure Suit Larry was about as close as you'd get.

Years later, when I heard there was going to be a Leisure Suit Larry game for the Xbox 360, I thought it could potentially be awesome. Unfortunately, when it was released, it got terrible reviews...despite a pretty amazing cast for a video game. Jay Mohr, Artie Lange, Shannon Elizabeth, Carmen Electra, Dave Attell, Patrick Warburton and Jeffrey Tambor to name a few. I was a little bit heartbroken, and I refused to play it....lest I trample upon the fond memories of my childhood with another terrible sequel.

Flash forward to June 21st, 2010. I'm 171 games into this project. Today is the 172nd day of the year. I've played almost every major video game released so far this calendar year, and it's getting tougher to find games I'm excited to play and haven't tried yet. I'd already played hundreds of games when this challenge started and I refuse to cheat myself (or anyone reading this) by recycling a game I've already played.

I took a look at all the released games that I've never played yet, and this particular title caught my eye. I know I swore I wasn't going to play it, but dammit...desperate times. It's something I'd never tried, and I can find out whether or not it's really as bad as people said it was.

5 minutes in...I knew it was a mistake.

This game is just as awful as people said it was going to be. The 2.2 review IGN gave it is warranted, maybe even generous.

For a brief moment, there was a glimmer of hope. The game starts with over five straight minutes of cut scenes, including some opening credits letting you know who the cast is. As mentioned above, there is definitely some voice talent in this one. The story (and the writing) are almost as classic as I remember them. It's cornball humor, very "blue"....and as I was being introduced to the characters, I started to get interested. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

Finally, the opening cinemas stopped and I got to control my character. The game went downhill from there.

The controls in this game are awful. The camera NEVER points where you want it to, and you'll often walk your guy right into a wall. I can't count how many times I exited a building only to walk right into a door, or a wall...or someone standing outside. You might as well play it with the screen turned off for as much control as you have.

You can drive little golf carts around the movie studio the game is set in, but those controls are terrible too. If you're a child of the 1980's, you might remember when a bad Nintendo game was primarily a "jumping" game, and then it would shoehorn in a "car" level....because someone thought a car level would be cool. The driving in this game is like the "Car levels" of a game that was not about driving. It's HORRIBLE.

Every interaction in the game is preceded by a BIG notification that you need to press "B" to trigger it. Whether you're about to talk to someone, open a door, take an elevator, or drive a have to press B first, and then wait for the load. And there are loading screens everywhere.

If that doesn't sound bad enough, I've left out the worst part. Apparently...from the first 6 or 7 missions I've played, I can tell that this is going to be a game filled with jumping puzzles. It boggles the mind. I don't understand how they can expect you to jump onto roof tops when you can't even WALK in a straight line in this game.

I don't understand how this game ever got shipped in the condition it was in. It's beyond awful. I think the developers should have tried to salvage it by stripping the game of all the action, and just made it an RPG on rails. That way you could have experienced the story and all the decent acting in this one. As it stands, as much as I'd like to hear all the dialog...there is absolutely no way I'd subject myself to any more of this awful gameplay.

Overall Score? 3/10. It's probably a two if I'm rating it strictly in terms of gameplay, but the cast is great for a video game and the story reminds me of the games of my youth, so it's getting a bump for nostalgia. The graphics in the cut scenes aren't terrible....and honestly, if I wasn't spoiled by hundreds of other better games (150 of them just this year), I would probably slog through the terrible controls just to see what happens next. As it stands, that won't happen.

Achievements? I've gone through six or seven different "quests" and so far I have one. ONE. I want more...and I want to play more...but I just can't.

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