Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude E3 2004 Preshow Hands-On Impressions

The classic Sierra adventure game series is being revived to power a new story-driven collection of M-rated minigames.

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The Leisure Suit Larry series has been dormant for quite a long time. Getting its start as a CGA/EGA release back in 1987, the first game in the series was Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. Gameplay-wise, the title was essentially a text adventure, though the game did display some then-impressive graphics. What set Larry apart from the pack was that it approached the then-mostly-untapped themes of sex and humor in gaming. The game essentially tried to push the same buttons as classic film comedies, such as National Lampoon's Animal House. It went on to spawn several similar-themed sequels, but with the adventure genre lacking most of the steam that it had back in the '80s and early '90s, no one really expected to see Larry return anytime soon. But Vivendi Universal and High Voltage Software are teaming up to deliver a new generation of Leisure Suit Larry, the clearly M-rated minigame romp, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.

Magna Cum Laude takes place some time after the original games and stars an all-new Larry. Here you'll play as Larry Lovage, the nephew of the original Larry. Lovage is a college student who lives in a dorm and is desperate for some attention from members of the opposite sex. The game opens with Larry fed up of being alone, so he quickly sets out on a mission to get onto one of those awful dating TV shows so that, if he's lucky, he can "score." Once Larry's off and running, the game opens up pretty quickly. You're given access to a lot of different areas, such as the dorm halls and other various spots on or around campus.

You'll have to take on different tasks as you progress. Some of these are essentially minigames that cover the process of Larry having a conversation with one of the girls in the game. Others are tasks you'll have to complete to impress the local girls enough to get them to talk to you in the first place. The games themselves are quite simple, some of them even re-creating classic arcade games in the process. For example, in one game you'll be attempting to distribute flyers. This game essentially plays like the classic arcade game Tapper. Conversations have you attempting to collect positive icons while dodging negative icons. As you proceed through the game, Larry will either behave smoothly or he'll make boneheaded remarks accordingly. Drink-mixing takes on a Whack-A-Mole sort of reflex feeling. There will be 12 different game types in all, but they'll appear multiple times and in multiple situations, making for 120 different games in all.

Leisure Suit Larry was always about comedy more than it was about "adult" themes. This game is no exception. Members of the team at High Voltage have written the script, and it's full of many different types of jokes. Some humor is more straight-up than other humor, and the game appears to be rife with pop-culture references, right down to Billy Dee Williams' night job as a malt liquor spokesman. From what we saw of the game, Magna Cum Laude appears to be on the right track.

That said, Larry doesn't shy away from the adult content, either. The game curses at you quite a bit, and the game will also contain full-frontal nudity from its polygonal characters. So expect to see an M rating on this one when it hits stores for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC in the fourth quarter of this year.

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