Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
Developer: High Voltage
N Amer - 10/12/2004
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude Review
Back in the day when text adventures were quite the popular genre on the PC, Sierra ruled supreme with incredible titles such as the King’s Quest series and Space Quest. Before the ESRB rating there were even mature-minded titles such as the violent Police Quest games and, of course, the naughty Leisure Suit Larry series. The Leisure Suit Larry series claim to fame was its risqué humor and adult situations that often resulted in some pretty hysterical outcomes of the American Pie variety. So it came as a surprise that Sierra not only released Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude on the PC but also on the PS2. Is this Larry still able to produce some decent laughs to make this the funniest game you’ll enjoy slipping into our favorite console?
It’s doubtful that many gamers will remember Leisure Suit Larry and the Land of the Lounge Lizards (yes, that’s the game‘s title in its entirety) and I must admit that I was introduced to the series through a friend of mine . . . a very lonely friend, I might add. Yet it was funny enough that I asked to borrow the rest of the Larry collection until I found myself somewhat of a fan of the short fellow with a knack for getting into trouble and failing spectacularly in the art of wooing beautiful women.
Magna Cum Laude revolves around college student Larry Lovage, nephew of the series main character Larry Laffer. The college-bound Larry finds himself enjoying all of what college life has to offer--alcohol, gorgeous girls and parties. Yet there’s one thing that Larry wants more and that’s to be a contestant on the show Swingles, which so happens to be looking for said contestants on campus. Before he could secure a spot on the show, he must prove to the show’s producers that he’s a swinging lover boy that can score with the best of them. So Larry sets off on a quest to win the affection of the finest girls ever to set foot on Walnut Log Community College.
Yet winning a girl’s affection isn’t going to be very easy, especially since our likeable hero has set his sights on the most attractive women he encounters and the campus seems to be swarming with quite a lot of them. Players are given the freedom to wander about the campus freely and this, of course, is how you come across the ladies Larry will attempt to woo and eventually “score” with to collect a personal item Larry uses as proof. Fans of the original PC games will feel a sting of nostalgia during Wander Mode--it feels much like the old point-and-click adventure. However, things drastically change the minute Larry attempts to, how shall I say it, pitch his woo to the girl he fancies.
Suddenly a small window appears in the lower half of the screen and Larry’s conversation falls entirely upon your ability to move a--how shall I put this?--a cartoon version of a sperm. Navigating it through a series of icons either produces good results and results that will get you nowhere with the girl. The mini-game produces some wildly humorous bits of conversations and pick-up lines--actually many of these conversations and pick-up lines are the heart of the game and worth listening to since much of what Larry says can be pretty funny and sometimes a bit dumb. When you successfully complete this mini-game, another mini-game begins. Yes, Magna Cum Laude, as you might have already guessed, is simply a collection of mini-games with a good story wedged in between.
The mini-games to complete a conquest vary from girl to girl, although much of what you’ll do will begin to seem familiar and eventually grow tiresome. When wooing Sally Mae, for example, Larry must win her heart by successfully doing what Sally Mae does best . . . line dance. It’s much like PaRappa the Rapper and it’s all about the timing so whenever the button icons appear you have to press them on time. Challenging, yes. Fun, just slightly. There are other mini-games such as playing a drinking game that requires you to toss a quarter into a glass (apparently this is the only way to win a girl‘s heart) and the familiar game of Slap (where you remove your hand before it’s slapped and vice versa). You’ll even find yourself bartending, a job that produces a mini-game that resembles the old-school game Tapper.
In order to complete the package, though, Larry must have money in his pocket and, of course, the right clothes. Clothing does make the man so Larry can use money to buy himself some cool or some pretty lame clothes. Larry will find himself venturing outside of campus to visit some seedy hangouts such as a strip club and perform some duties for the local pimp. You’ll even go as far as participating in a wet t-shirt contest where Larry takes control of a soaker in first-person fashion. If you want to earn money, Larry can find money hidden in objects but you’ll have to also earn it the hard way (e.g. selling photographs of girls or helping the attractive animal rights crusader on campus).
The trouble with Magna Cum Laude--despite its witty humor--is that many of the mini-games are just the same rhythm-based actions that hardly ever change. After having danced with everyone from a stripper to a wino, the button pressing will grow tiresome. Even the game of quarters loses its allure by the third game. Had there been more interactive sequences or a better variety of mini-games, Larry’s quest could have been more tolerable. Even those seeking the naughty innuendo will feel let down by the game’s less-than-sexy appeal. It is, however, a hilarious look at the college lifestyle.
Graphically speaking, Magna Cum Laude’s cartoon visuals make things all the more hilarious. Larry Lovage is a more likeable guy visually than when he opens his mouth--not that what he says isn’t engaging. The environments in particular are nicely detailed, as are the many ladies that our hero encounters throughout the game. Larry himself is a laugh-riot with his huge melon of a head and the way he skips through campus like a child in a toy store. Overall, the sight gags and animation really do the series justice.
Larry’s corny pick-up lines are the kind that will make you roll your eyes but when he starts his awkward rap you’ll be so engrossed in the dialogue that you’ll wish there wasn’t a conversational mini-game to distract you. While the other voices are performed well enough, the profanity this game throws at you is quite excessive.
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude oversteps the boundaries to bring us a raunchy, comical and overly repetitive game that’s worth playing at least once. Mind you, the truly tasteless sexual tones aren’t what will attract you, rather it’s the amusing story filled with clever dialogue that will hook you long enough to see this one through to the end. This one is purely a weekend rental . . . unless profanity and nudity offend you, of course.
#Review Scoring Details for LEISURE SUIT LARRY: MAGNA CUM LAUDE
The mini-games will seem fresh and fun early in the game but after awhile it begins to become a cycle of repetitiveness. Following Larry through his numerous blunders, though, is well worth playing the rhythmic trampoline mini-games for the fifth time.
The game’s cartoon-ish visuals make the sight gags all the more funny and the detailed environments won’t fail to impress. There’s nudity but only partial so it never really gets too graphic since CENSORED signs cover all the real naughtiness.
Forget the flatulence sound effects, it’s the dialogue that will win you over. Larry isn’t great at coming up with some original pick-up lines but his conversation with the ladies he’s attempting to woo is downright hysterical. The music in the game--such as Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy for My Shirt”--play at all the right moments.
There’s no real challenge found in the various mini-games or puzzle that will have you completely stumped since there are several hints that basically point you in all the right directions. That having been said, Magna Cum Laude is a game that gamers will zip through pretty quickly.
There are plenty of secrets to uncover throughout the games and a wide variety of girls to attract (and, in many cases, repel). You’ll wish there were more things Larry can interact with but it’s fun watching him suffer everything from a mob beating to getting caught for urinating in public.
Magna Cum Laude might become too repetitive way too quickly but those looking for a funny look at the college life, this game will not fail to provide some truly genuine laughs. This is a Mature rated game that gets just a tad raunchy without going all the way. If you’re mature enough to handle the immature antics, do rent this one.
GameZone Review Detail
Magna Cum Laude might become too repetitive way too quickly but those looking for a funny look at the college life, this game will not fail to provide some truly genuine laughs.
Reviewer: Nick Valentino
Review Date: 10/18/2004