Friday, 7 August 2015

Leisure Suit Larry 5 – Intracontinental Absurdity

Written by Alex



I have to say that the presentation of Larry 5 is really top-notch. For making a stupid comedy game that is very linear and plays more like a clickable movie than a game, Al Lowe and company have done a fantastic job of ensuring that it’s entertaining. The jokes, while puerile and immature, are well-written and perfectly timed, which helps matters immensely. But the whole vibe is similar to a movie like Airplane!, which knows that it’s dumb and just goes with it. There’s nothing filthy or dirty here; as with the other Larry games, it’s mostly innuendo, wordplay, sight gags, and the kind of thing that leaves most of the perversion, so to speak, up to the player’s imagination. In other words, if you’re offended by this game, then you have serious issues.


We begin this session in the lobby of PornProd Corp. With his mission to find the sexiest woman in America, the promise of a move up the corporate ladder if successful, and a handy hidden camera, Larry needs to find the three finalists’ resumes before taking off to “audition” them, as well as some way to charge the camera’s battery.

There are three places to go: going right leads outside, going left leads to Larry’s workshop, and the door in the top of the screen leads to the file room. The door to the left leads back to Larry’s boss, Silas Scruemall’s, office. Trying to go in reminds Larry of Silas’s “open door” policy: Open the door and you’re fired. Let’s not go in there.




Going outside reveals a rather hideous looking statue of PornProd Corp.’s founding mother, Chesty Turbo. Looking at it gives Larry 1 point. Just for fun, clicking the “hand” or “zipper” icon on the water lets Larry relieve himself in the fountain. Classy. As an aside, there is no “nose/mouth” icon as there was in the Larry 1 remake, but I don’t feel like this is any great loss. Nothing else to do out here. Let’s explore the rest of the office.

As Larry pokes around, text boxes pop up periodically fleshing out what story there is. As we can see, these mysterious messages hint at what may have happened between Larry’s 3 and 5, and serve to let the player know that Larry, too, is as confused as they are:

“Where am I?” you wonder. “What’s happened to me? What am I doing here?” The last you remember, you were writing your life story as a computer game, sitting on a deck with a half-naked woman, overlooking a beautiful lake nestled high in the Sierra Nevada.

“I remember a woman named Patti; something about an island; and, and . . . a gig as a computer game programmer?” you think. “What’s going on?”

“How did I end up in Hollywood—and what am I supposed to be doing here?” you sign. “I’m so confused.” (Of course, you’re quite accustomed to being confused!)

“And what am I doing in Larry 5?” you think. “And whatever happened to Larry 4?”

Slowly you come to the realization that you must be suffering from amnesia, although how a computer game character gets amnesia you do not understand!

“Who was that Patti woman? Does she still exist? Did she ever exist?” you think. “Or is she just a series of partially-goggled bits in my memoires?” You remember most deeply in your heart, not to mention several other major organs.

But where is she? Will you see her again? Does she ever think of you?

Suddenly, your memories stir again. “Patti was Passionate Patti, the famous pianist/entertainer. I remember: I loved her!”

“And wait! She loved me, too! Will I ever find her again?

Stuff like this just cracks me up. I think it works because it’s just so stupid. And for a game series where plot doesn’t really matter, this sort of fourth-wall breaking adds to the charm.




The file room has a bunch of cabinets marked “Losers,” and one drawer marked “Winners” on the top of the far-right cabinet. In it, Larry snags the files for the three winners he has to audition (8 points). On the table in the foreground is a credit card imprinter with the company’s AeroDork Gold Card. Being an unscrupulous bastard, Larry of course takes this as well (5 points).


Love the Larry 2 callback.


The resumes are for the three finalists: Michelle Milken, Lana Luscious, and Chi Chi Lambada. Examining each folder (1 point each) provides us with a photograph of the particular lady, her vital statistics, some brief biological information, and an item hinting at where Larry can find each of them: Michelle loves technology and her folder contains a napkin from the Hard Disk Café in New York City, Lana loves hanging out in Atlantic City and her folder contains a matchbook from the Tramp Casino, and Chi Chi is a dental assistant to a Doc Pulliam in Miami, whose business card is in her folder. Looking at this business card reveals the office’s phone number (1 point). It’s good to have some direction! As I said last post, Larry can choose the order of visiting the three women, but it ultimately has no effect on the course of his adventure.

Nothing else to do in here. Let’s head off to the left and visit Larry’s workshop.




Wow! What a mess! Time to start clicking. That huge barrel of disinfectant looks like a good place to start, since Larry’s official title is Chief Tape Rewinder and Sterilizer. Larry can clean his hands for 1 point, and then snag some mini-tapes for his hidden camera from the table next to the TV in the lower right (6 points). Looking at these tapes in the inventory reveals that they need to be erased, so into Larry’s degaussing machine on the back workbench they go to get them fully erased (2 points each). And what’s this? In the far-left drawer is a battery charger that just so happens to fit Larry’s camera! (8 points). Now all we need to do is find someplace to plug it in. The only thing left to do in the workshop is use Larry’s 8-track player on the workbench, which lets him listen to all of the game’s tracks (5 points). Fun, and the music is typically great, but inessential. I decide to listen to “Sexy Sax” while I get Larry’s tapes ready, because I’m sexy like that.

Back in the lobby, Larry makes use of the electrical outlet near the door to Silas’s office. I plug in the charger (8 points) and insert the camera (3 points), and then wait. It only takes five or so seconds to get the battery up to 100%, and clicking the “eye” on the charging camera shows its progress. Once it’s at 100%, Larry picks it up (1 point) and puts a fresh tape inside (4 points). Clicking “hand” on the camera in the inventory screen turns it on (4 points), but I decide to click it back off, as the charge only lasts for five minutes. I have 4 minutes and 57 seconds left, but like a paranoiac, I quickly recharge it back to 100% before leaving the office.

This time, there’s a limousine waiting for Larry. He gets in and flashes something to the driver, Bobbi Bang, who takes Larry to L.A.X. airport.





There’s nothing Larry can do in here: the TV is broken, the fax machine is inert, the fish cannot be manipulated, the driver wants nothing to do with Larry, the bottles are off-limits, and there is no time to click on the phone. Nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the ride.

En route, we get a cut scene to another East Coat board meeting of Julius Bigg and his minions helpfully providing some exposition, the way all good bad guys should. They and their Hollywood cronies are worried that “America’s Sexiest Home Videos,” PornProd Corp.’s upcoming show that Larry just so happens to be searching for the hostess of, will be a hit, further cutting into the sales of X-rated videos. But Bruno, one of Mr. Bigg’s lackeys, has discovered a political action committee called C.A.N.E.: Conservatives Against Nearly Anything. While in 2015, it’s mostly people on the other side of the aisle who want to ban everything they disagree with, this is still a funny joke. Basically, these dudes decide to fund this committee—anonymously, of course—in order to help them clean up the public airwaves and leave the porno to the experts!




Cut back to Larry at the airport, where we get introduced to the game’s most dreaded feature: Copy protection! See, Larry has to gallivant across the United States to fulfill his important duty. This involves getting his boarding passes from AeroDork’s automatic ticketing machines, conveniently located outside of the terminal. Why deal with humans?! Pretty ahead-of-its-time thinking from Mr. Lowe and company.




Larry has to pick the city he wants to visit, and then find the appropriate code in the manual for that particular destination/time combination. I decide to visit New York first on the 4:40 p.m. flight, find the corresponding symbols in the manual, and enter the five-digit code to get my boarding pass (4 points).


The symbols resemble the time codes in Space Quest IV.


Pass in hand, Larry walks into the airport and pokes around. There are three screens: The one to the left has nothing clickable save an electrical outlet, the one on the right has some phones Larry can’t use since they’re all out of order, and the center screen where Larry enters has the entrance to AeroDork’s Chartreuse Carpet Lounge with a security camera affixed outside of it.




Pro-tip: See the barely perceptible bottoms of the signs on the upper portion of the screen? Each section of each airport of the game has them. Clicking the “eye” on them gives a region-appropriate joke, but sometimes there is useful game information contained on these signs. Click on them all.

Enough dilly-dallying. Let’s get to the Big Apple! I try opening the door to the lounge, but no dice; I’m told I need to show the camera that I belong in there. I show the boarding pass to the camera, but that’s not enough for the snobby piece of surveillance equipment. I know what is! Larry’s borrowed AeroDork card! (9 points).


Get used to seeing this screen.


The lounge . . . kind of sucks! There’s no coffee, no other people, and the folding chair promptly breaks and deposits Larry onto his ass. Nothing left to do but listen to the unintelligible announcement over the loudspeaker, put the boarding pass into the slot next to the door (7 points), and board the plane bound for New York!


“Oh beautiful, for spacious skies . . .”


Here we get a close-up of Larry in his oh-so comfortable seat.




There’s a magazine in the pouch in front of him, so Larry snags it (8 points) and, remembering how much useful information the magazine in his first adventure contained, decides to read it (5 points). Say, did you know that “computer punch cards are descendants of a long line of mechanical products dating all the way back to the music box?” Larry vows to remember this “in case [he] ever run[s] across a music box in a computer store.” Soon, Larry drifts off to sleep and dreams of a woman in red playing the piano in front of the Parthenon. She takes a bow, and then . . .







Patti is finished playing a set at some dingy dive club in God knows what city. The place is mostly empty, and she laments the life choices that have brought her to this point. She tries to get paid by the club’s manager, but he informs her that his boss, someone named Julius (ooh!) and his “backers” (the game’s quotation marks, not mine) aren’t thrilled with her meager draw and decide to boot her, sans pay, since this Julius guy claims that Patti’s contract was never valid. Fuming and railing against the music business, Patti dons her best trench coat and fedora and heads off into the night.




She is accosted by a trench coat and fedora clad gentleman who identifies himself as Agent Desmond of the FBI. His team has been keeping an eye on Patti, and thinks she’s the perfect person to help with their investigation into organized crime in the entertainment industry. And as a bonus, Patti gets to exact some revenge on the music moguls whom she feels have held her back. All she has to do is spy and gather information, and the Bureau will handle things from there. It’s a win-win! Her assignment is to find evidence of subliminal messages in popular music that the FBI thinks has led to a spike in crime, and mob involvement in obscene rap music which is “undermin[ing] the moral fiber of our nation’s youth.” Patti’s targets are Reverse Biaz, a recording engineer at des Revers records in Baltimore, and 2 Live 2 Screw, a rap group headquartered at K-RAP Radio in Philadelphia. They suspect that a man known only as “Julius” (OOH!) is connected to both of these illicit enterprises.

Like I said, it’s a stupid plot, and this is a lot of exposition. But it’s a good set-up for the buffoonery to follow.

We finally gain control of Patti at the FBI headquarters’s crime lab, where Desmond introduces her to Commander Twit.


Doesn’t a name like that just inspire confidence?


Desmond heads back into his office to the left, and Patti is left to her own devices to click and get more exposition! Using the “eye” on the black scientist (3 points) shows him demonstrating an “infrared, heat-seeking, surface-to-air vibrator” that accidentally gets stuck up his ass when the guy forgets to let go of it and carries him off screen (I am not making this up). Clicking on the two white scientists farther up (3 points) demonstrates a brasserie cannon, which is fired by, as Commander Twit explains, touching your elbows behind your back. The scientist that is wearing the brasserie hears Twit say this and thinks it’s an order, touching his elbows behind his back and murdering the other scientist! “Obviously, our turnover rate is rather high here!” says Twit with a smile on his face! Wow!

Ignoring the WORKPLACE MURDER that just occurred, Twit takes Patti to the next screen and plugs Patti’s vital information into a computer, gets her a contact telephone number (1 point) as well as an email address and all of that other lovely stuff, and christens her Agent 88. Patti can check out another scientist demonstrating flatulence powder (3 points), potentially used to embarrass enemy heads-of-state, and then it’s off to Dr. Phil Hopian to install her tracking device. Three guesses as to where the point-of-insertion is.


Yep.


I’m not going to describe this sequence in detail, except to say that, despite looking pretty perverted (it is), it’s so ridiculous as to be funny. All I’ll say is that it involves a drill and a hardhat. That ordeal finished, Patti finds the lab is deserted, but a DataMan recorder (5 points) and two cartridges (13 points each) are lying on a desk. These cartridges, when inserted into the DataMan (7 points) provide contact info for both Reverse Biaz in Baltimore and P.C. Hammer in Philadelphia. Patti gets 1 point for looking at the P.C. display, as it contains an access code for something. The only thing to do before departing is snag the brasserie cannon that some COLD-BLOODED MURDERER left on a desk (6 points), examine it in the inventory (2 points) and wear it (6 points).


False facades covering FBI facilities.  Is “Woodwind Repairs” a callback to Larry 2’s ridiculous plot involving a Peruvian onklunk? I’d like to think so!


Outside, there is a limo waiting for Patti to take her to either Baltimore or Philadelphia, depending on which data cartridge she shows to Bobby Bang, her deaf limo driver. The only thing Patti can do is snag a champagne bottle from the liquor cabinet (6 points) and make her choice of destination. Calling Desmond’s number, which Commander Twit gives to Patti, only does anything if you did not take the DataMan and the cartridges from the desk; doing this will allow Patti to call Desmond and ask him to fax information about both Reverse Biaz and P.C. Hammer (13 points per fax). Returning to the lab allows Patti to take the DataMan, insert the cartridges, examine the P.C. Hammer one for the same amount of points as previously described, but taking the cartridges again does not grant an additional 13 points per cartridge. I don’t know why I care so much about sussing all of these things out, but it’s just Alex going the extra mile for all of you loyal Adventure Gamer readers. (It’s actually a way for me to get a read on how the puzzles in this game are designed, but I like the other rational better).

Anyway, I decide to start with Baltimore, and show Bobby Reverse Biaz’s address (8 points). On her way to that pre-destruction Baltimore, Patti drifts off to sleep. She envisions herself making sweet, sweet love to billionaire real-estate mogul and future presidential hopeful Donald Tramp.




The scene shifts back to Larry, fondling his bags of peanuts as he dreams of getting it on with Patti following her imaginary Parthenon performance.




Just look at that $#!@-eating grin!


Awake and embarrassed, he alights in New York.




This seems like an appropriate place to stop. I apologize for the long post, but this section of the game is all set-up and exposition. As entertaining as it is, I wanted to get it out of the way to get to more substantive gameplay. Stay tuned next time as Larry fumbles around in New York City in search of the lovely and talented Michelle Milken!

As an aside, I love how clicking inventory items on each other gives unique jokes, much like in the Larry 1 remake. Here are a few of the best ones.


Classic Sierra.



Ha ha! It’s funny because the Cubs suck!


Ha ha! It’s funny because the Mets suck, too!


THAT’S NOT FUNNY, GAME! YOU TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW!

I also appreciate the references to older games:






Lastly, this is pretty funny too:




Total Points: 177 out of 1,000

Inventories:
  • Larry: Hidden camera, charger, three blank tapes, three resumes, napkin from Hard Disk Café in New York City, AeroDork Gold Card, AeroDork’s in-flight magazine, matches from Tramp Casino in Atlantic City, business card for Doc Pulliam in Miami
  • Patti: DataMan, Reverse Biaz cartridge, P.C. Hammer cartridge, brasserie cannon

Session Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of .. Oh screw it! This game is so easy that no one can spoil it.

5 comments:

  1. I'm vaguely reminded of Zak McKracken, with the flying around and multiple playable characters.

    Also nice timing with Donald "Tramp" once again being in the news. Although how anyone can consider him a serious presidential candidate baffles me.

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    1. Although the plot is ridiculous, I like how Al Lowe makes fun of all sorts of American celebrities and even political figures. This is not the last we'll see of Tramps, since Larry is bound to find one of the girls at Tramp casino.

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  2. I've only just reached this point (Hey - I'm only 2 posts behind.)

    But I didn't pick up the charger or in-flight magazine. And knowing Sierra games the way I do, I expect there to be no way to go back and pick them up. Better reload - fortunately there's not a lot of gameplay to replay.

    I never played the Larry games when I was younger, and I suspect that's partly why I'm groaning rather than laughing at most of the attempts at humour. In particular the flatulence guy bouncing around the room like a bad cartoon really had me groaning in this section.

    Then again, I had a smile on my face for much of Space Quest IV so maybe it's just the Larry style of humour that doesn't work for me.

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    Replies
    1. Well, it's not necessary to pick them up. In fact, it's not necessary to do almost anything in this game (unless you aim for a good score).

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    2. Thanks for the tip. In that case, I won't reload and will just see if anything happens differently when a less observant player plays the game...

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