Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
Developer: High Voltage
N Amer - 10/12/2004
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude Review
Gather around and I’ll tell you the tale of a loveable loser named Larry Laffer. Larry is what you might call an aging hipster, a ladies man that doesn’t quite score with the ladies because--let’s face it--John Travolta he’s not (some guys just know how to wear polyester suits) and those pick-up lines he uses are as cheesy as a jumbo nacho platter. Yet somehow Larry’s exploits have fascinated PC gamers for quite some time mostly because it’s fun to see a likeable loser hilariously crash and burn when it comes to wooing gorgeous ladies. Now Larry has taken a backseat and the spotlight now falls on his nephew, Larry Lovage, in Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. Does this game bring the same semi-raunchy fun of the PC games of old? Like young Larry, let’s give it the old college try.
Having never played a Leisure Suit Larry game, I managed to track down his entire exploits in a box set edition. Larry has come a long way since his original beginnings as an early text adventures and then as a point-and-click games. Magna Cum Laude, though, centers on nephew Larry who is attending Walnut Log Community College when the dating show Swingles comes strolling into campus looking for contestants in an on-campus event. Determined to be on that show, Larry auditions but, of course, the producers smell a zero and turn him down. In order to prove he’s got what it takes to be on the show, Larry sets out to prove himself by bringing the show’s attractive host, Uma, tokens of affection various ladies on campus bestow him.
Of course, this means Larry has to actually go out and win their affections first and that’s something that won’t come easy because Larry--while occasionally charming--isn’t much of a stud muffin. Still, you have to respect the little guy for trying and try he does. With a little help from his Uncle Laffer, he begins his conquests of the many ladies on campus. While Larry can hit on every girl he encounters during his exploration of the campus, there are key ladies that catch his eye. First Larry must approach the girl and instigate a conversation. Key conversations are interactive since a box on the lower half of the screen appears. The basic idea is simple: you must steer a, um, DNA icon hitting green heart icons while avoiding red ones. The trick, of course, is to get as many green icons as possible to make a good impression on the girl in question.
The key girls in question are laughable stereotypes like Analisa (the foul-mouthed Italian Jersey girl who happens to come from a mobster family) or country bumpkin Sally Mae (who incidentally is not what she really seems). So how does Larry win their hearts and receive the tokens of affection he needs to get on the show? Larry will have to pass a series of conversations as well as a variety of mini-games with flying colors. The mini-games vary from girl to girl but they usually end up being the same familiar ones . . . but more on that later. One such mini-game is the drinking game called Quarters. Basically Larry tosses a coin into an empty beer mug to win the game. Miss and Larry or the girl he’s playing against takes a swig of alcohol. Other mini-games involve dancing and bouncing on the trampoline, which is PaRappa the Rapper-style timed games. A girl calls off some directional instructions and Larry has to follow it by hitting the appropriate button in time. It’s kind of fun . . . until you do it for the fourth time.
But there are mini-games that do separate themselves from the dancing and quarters games. At one point Larry shows his school spirit by donning the school’s mascot costume and run around campus getting students all fired up about a football game. You’ll even be slinging leaflets at a die-hard animal rights babe, making sure everyone gets a copy before they eventually reach you. Some mini-games are both funny and dumb, such as the time when Analisa’s mobster dad sends goons to beat you with baseball bats. You’ll be chased around campus while a half undressed Analisa is chasing after you while pleading for them to leave you alone . . . it’s like watching the ending of a Benny Hill episode.
For a game that’s pretty much determined to provide mini-game after mini-game to move the story along, the variety isn’t fulfilling because they end up resembling the last mini-game you just finished awhile ago while attempting to win the last girl’s affections. Repetitive as the mini-games are, though, the exploration and Larry’s interaction with the various locales on campus and outside is what make the game bearable. Exploring the sorority houses and the strip club leads to finding secret tokens you can use to buy unlockable extras and money to spend on clothes or beer is actually a blast. As for Magna Cum Laude’s raunchiness, it can get pretty graphic at times but it doesn’t really cross the line because it’s all handled with plenty of humor.
Visually, Magna Cum Laude is graphically easy on the eyes. It’s a colorful game with environments that stand out thanks to the nice amount of detail. Dorm halls are adorned with posters, there are vending machines with unusual items and empty beer cans scattered throughout the place (hmm, sound a lot like the dorm hall I stayed in, actually). The characters aren’t as detailed--that is, until you focus your attention on the key ladies. Which brings us to nudity . . . it’s all-topless when it comes to the ladies so do keep in mind that things can get that raunchy.
Where the game really excels, though, is its dialogue. Larry’s bad at the smooth talk making him seem like an annoyance to the ladies than a suave swinging bachelor. The “Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven” pick-up line should be outlawed in all fifty States, but young Larry uses it quite often. Still, bad pick-up lines aside, Larry really comes to life during conversations and these are hilarious. He sometimes tends to ramble on but when he does it’s the funniest bits of dialogue you’ll hear in a game.
Magna Cum Laude is a raunchy, hilarious romp that does the old Larry games proud when it comes to humor and sexy situations, but that’s still not enough to make this one worth the price tag. Let’s face it, mini-games are fun but when they’re familiar irritations of the last mini-game you just finished a minute ago, it becomes way too repetitive. Its humor wins out, though, so if you’re looking for a decent laugh then this is the perfect rental for those who remember the old PC games fondly.
#Review Scoring Details for Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Apparently the only way Larry can score with a babe is to get them drunk. The mini-games become too repetitive to be fun for very long and this is what drags the game down. What really works, though, is the exploration and other little activities. Larry can make money by taking pictures of girls much like Beyond Good & Evil’s Jade takes pictures of creatures.
The environments are wonderfully detailed and the character animation is done to perfection. Larry himself is quite funny to look at . . . even more so when he’s incredibly drunk or when his confidence level is really low.
The dialogue is particularly great and you’ll laugh out loud many times throughout the game. Occasionally the dialogue can get a bit crude, childish, unfunny and filled with unnecessary profanity but what did you expect from a game filled with bad stereotypes. Still, there’s something funny about a funny-looking guy stripping to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”
By the third try you’ll be champion of Quarters, a master of the Slapping game and a true drink mixing pro. The game’s puzzles are super easy to solve thanks to indicators that practically slap you in the face and point arrows at your destination. The dancing and the trampoline mini-game, though, are not for the rhythmically challenged.
Playing through the old PC games, I’ve discovered something. Young Larry Lovage is a lot more likeable than his uncle and watching him go through all that trouble to be on a dating show is just too funny. Sometimes it’s just great to cheer for the underdog, even if that underdog is soaking girl’s t-shirts in a wet t-shirt contest and urinating in public.
Magna Cum Laude is an outrageously funny and extremely naughty game that bends the rules but still falls a bit flat due to its repetitive nature. There’s some pretty fun moments in the game and if you can stomach the lame fart jokes and profanity, it’s even worth playing this one all the way through to the end. Rent this one if you’re old enough and want a laugh or two.
GameZone Review Detail
Magna Cum Laude is an outrageously funny and extremely naughty game that bends the rules but still falls a bit flat due to its repetitive nature.
Reviewer: Natalie Romano
Review Date: 10/18/2004