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Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

Old games don't die; they just get a next-generation makeover. They don't cum much older than Leisure Suit Larry, the franchise that the majority of seasoned gamers hoped had been consigned to the anals of history. With its genesis in 1981's text-based Soft Porn Adventure, the polyester-clad would-be lothario made his full debut in 1987's In The Land Of The Lounge Lizards, spawning a further half dozen spurious instalments, with a final barrel-scraping compilation disgracing the shelves as recently as 1999.

So what is Larry doing back, and how come he's at college? Fear not, this is a different Larry, one Mr Lovage no less, nephew of the original Larry Laffer. Having just started at Community College, Larry Junior has only one thing on his mind (and it's not getting a trench coat or joining a real ale society). Scientifically a dwarf, and lumbered with an outsized head and distinctive taste in leisurewear, poor Larry doesn't have much luck with the ladies.

Like uncle, like nephew then, but thankfully this is where the similarities end. A world away from the laborious point 'n' click adventures of yore, while there are nods to the (thankfully) defunct genre, there is no need to combine a spatchcock with musk of elderberry in order to make progress. Furthermore, Magna Cum Laude will never ask you to choose from a list of glib responses while being forced
to listen to some nominally branching conversation.

It's all about the chat-up lines, and conversations are still commonplace, but are conducted through the medium of guiding a solitary sperm through a series of moving symbols. Hit too many reds and the chat will begin to wane; consistently find green and your chosen filly will fall under your charms. The system works surprisingly well, and with enough manual dexterity you can talk your intended mate into performing unspeakable acts of sexual depravity. That's the theory anyway, although Larry being Larry, he is inevitably foiled at the last minute.

Carry On Campus
In many ways, Magna Cum Laude is more of an RPG than an adventure, with a variety of quests (women) available to attempt at your leisure, and numerous objects to acquire, including a variety of absurd costumes. Gameplay-wise though, it's really little more than a series of mini-games, with slightly lewder versions of classics such as Pong and Tapper augmented with a selection of rhythm-action tasks.

The plot, such as it is, involves the TV dating show 'Swingles' coming to town, with Larry guaranteed entry providing he can acquire a certain number of tokens of affection from the girls on campus. This is essentially a licence to roam, and Larry has his pick of the ladies, encompassing such diverse characters as a nerdish library-dweller, a psychotic cheerleader, a Russian spy and a Mafioso's daughter.

Predictably, all manner of sexual high-jinks entail, and the game does have an 18 certificate, with the American censor warning that it contains 'mature humor, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of alcohol'. We're not sure if that's in any descending order of unholiness, but we can confirm that all are present and correct (and not just on a PC Zone night out). The game also has surprisingly high-production values for what is superficially a piece of tat, even boasting licensed music including such pertinent tracks as Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy, and Motley Crue's Girls Girls Girls.

Naturally, we have been sceptical of the project ever since we heard of it. However, having racked up over ten hours' play in the space of a weekend, we have to admit to being pleasantly surprised, with a cynical frown gradually lifting
to be replaced by mild bemusement, and even the occasional begrudging snort of stifled laughter.

Of course it's largely inane, and hardly the zenith of hardcore gaming, but there's something that keeps you ambling round the campus and beasting on the women, if only to see what happens. It's the same mentality that had a generation of junior masturbators glued to Channel Four's Red Triangle season of late-night art films, prying their eyes open in the hope of seeing a bit of muff. And for those who recall a German dancer squatting over a remote-controlled tank bearing a dildo, it was worth every minute. Such explicit action is unlikely to befall Larry, but you get to the stage where you actively want him to get laid, not necessarily for any voyeuristic thrills, but just to get it over with for his sake.

It would be an extremely unfussy onanist that turned to Leisure Suit Larry for any kind of sexual stimulation - although the loading screens do feature real semi-naked women - but that's not really the point. Essentially a pornographic playground, it's proof that games don't necessarily have to be about sport, war or goblins.

PC Zone Magazine


Perversely playable
  Passes the time
  Occasionally amusing
  Embarrassing if you get caught playing it
  Sometimes feels like a chore



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Too Drunk To F**K

Being Larry is one of the few times that you don't want to be too drunk. Like in reality it makes everything difficult, be it tossing a quarter into a glass, or guiding a spermatozoa between a series of hazards. Sobering up before attempting a key sequence is advisable, and this can either be done by guzzling coffee, drinking so much that you embark on a streak and wake up in your own mess, or - least logically - by taking a piss. Anywhere will do.