Full Review: When hand met stiffy.
Many men in life are aroused by female breasts (those of us who are heterosexual, anyway). It's just human nature. An animal attraction, if you will. Our eyes calculate their formation, their odd-shaped roundness, and the way they jiggle and wiggle about so gracefully. They're harvested in ripeness for sizing. You can increase the bigness, or lessen it all together. They're filed under several names: hooters, jugs, tits, melons, knockers -- you name it, and you're going to have more than a hundred more to think about. Men are weak against their will. Like dogs, we obey their command. If a chick were to take off her clothes in public and command a gentlemen caller to buy her a Big Mac, he'd ask, "You want fries with that?" Unwrapping them like presents on our birthday, we just like to take a peek at those twins every now and again. Maybe even get a feel...or two. That's all. We're guys, go figure. What's my point? Well, um...I forget actually. But I do know that it all has something to do with sex. Sex sells stuff, as Vivendi is well aware, in returning to "that" PC gaming franchise that was all about scoring with babes. After eight sequels and eight long years, Leisure Suit Larry has returned for some loving in the first entry to not be a computer-only exclusive, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.
Larry Lovage is a smooth pimpin' cat. Ladies literally fawn over him wherever he may roam. He's the maestro of love...or so he'd like to think. Not to trample on the fantasy fellas, but Larry Lovage is a total loser. After six years of schooling at his community college, Larry has achieved no such significant long-term goals of any kind. No degree, no chick, no nothing. Larry is more of an annoying perverted pest who's obsessed with chasing tail than he is a decent, handsome, smart, or even bold kind of guy whom any female companion would adore. They seem him as this stick in the mud, someone of no importance. That is until an ad for a TV dating game show called Swingles gives Larry the strength to show the ladies around him what he's really made of. Making a deal with the show's vivacious host, it's up to Larry to win over the hearts of up to 15 college cuties by competing for their affection and become Swingles' number one sex-matic stud.
Veterans of the Leisure Suit Larry montage might recognize that Larry Lovage actually isn't the series' superstar. That title once belonged to Larry Laffer, who in Larry's world (the new Larry) is his uncle. Larry is Larry's nephew...er, Larry Lovage I mean. His uncle's retired from the game. He's had his run over the mill of the last eight titles, and Vivendi's deciding it's time to freshen up the act. Just like Sammy said in The Wedding Singer, "No one wants to see a fifty-year-old guy hitting on chicks." He's got a point there. However, that doesn't mean Mr. Laffer won't be around to give his horny nephew some much needed advice. Voicing the simple steps of the game's tutorial, Larry Laffer instructs beginners of Magna Cum Laude into the basic essentials: when to tap buttons, and what kind of sluts to hit on...that is to say, mature and intelligent ladies. Score another one for my keen cover-ups!
Trying to hide the propaganda material doesn't work though, because that's just what Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude is. This is an adventure game that points you out as this losery guy named Larry and has you attempting to score with babes. But, that's the interesting about the game, I think. It's the way that there are different gals, cliche or not, who have a variety of personalities and backgrounds in which the romance between them and Larry ends up in a twisted way you wouldn't initially expect. Let me demonstrate. Take the game's protagonist Larry. Put him in his dorm room, set up a college campus and areas outside it, and locate the "special" chicks Larry's going to be clucking with. Essentially, it's your job as Larry to seduce each coed into being some kind of special partner, whether that means she'll decide to use you for pity sex or is actually a real "demon in the sack." Literally. Of course, not all separate stories end up with Larry and his female other in his dorm room. In fact, many of them don't turn out that way at all. And it's the variation in humility, arousal, and charming wit that make Leisure Suit Larry a likable semi-soap opera of sorts.
Playing the game is another thing. To get ladies to offer themselves to Larry, he must convince each one that he (or you) is a worthy opponent by completing a series of mini-games with them or by himself (loser!). Of these are rounds of trial and error efforts such as in a dialogue session. What happens is a rectangular box shows up at the bottom of the screen -- and you've got to maneuver a spermatozoa up and down around icons that float by. Aiming for the green hearts and smiley faces is the idea, while also attempting to avoid the red beer mugs, stinky squiggles, and other such conversation hazards. Each of the green marks that you hit fills up Larry's heart meter, and each red one decreases it (and you want this meter to fill up in order to win). Other such events lead to bouncing on a trampoline or dancing in coordination with each female's instruction (by pressing a scrolling set of controller buttons quickly enough when processed through an indicator on the bottom of the screen). There's also a mini-game type where you must run through a set of stars in a chase by guards or Mafia that is after you. Another has you tossing meals to monkeys on an assembly line (and not forgetting to pick up the trash and avoid the crap), while even another is a game of quarters. Each competitor -- Larry and the lady -- flips their quarter into a cup of some kind, where the one who manages to actually toss the quarter in correctly watches on as the other gulps alcohol in embarrassment. The drunker they get, the more they become yours.
The mini-games of Magna Cum Laude are interesting (as I was saying earlier, the relationship between Larry and each coed develops through playing these), but there isn't really enough of them to go around. Many times, you'll encounter the same mini-game over again with practically every girl in the game because there is only a handful of around ten to experience in all. Having but 15 single women in the game and only so many ways to attract them can get a little repetitious at times. Also, in terms of quality, these mini-games can't be regarded as brilliant. Using hand and eye coordination, you'll complete some challenges with the quickness of tapping face buttons or the left analog stick in specified directions. In some other ones, you're basically trying to avoid obstacles or generally not screw up your focused goal all with the parameters you have at your aid. Still, the mini-games can be pretty challenging even though they're played in the same format, they're shifting pathways -- which means you'll find yourself pressing a different set of buttons from a prior attempt in the different places you'll play them. Losing at any mini-game also means you'll be penalized for your mistakes. Progressing in any one of these events sets up a heart meter on the left side of the screen that Larry must fill to the top, or at least near it if he's to win. Failing though expels a significant amount (10 points) of confidence from Larry's confidence meter. Obviously, you can't talk to girls without confidence, and Larry needs to hold a steady balance of this if he's to further engage in his "adventures."
There are two main functions of Magna Cum Laude which would benefit players to keep an eye on from time to time. This is Larry's confidence meter that rests at the left-hand corner of the screen. The fuller this gauge gets, the swifter Larry can move around campus. At the top level, Larry skips around like a dainty little fairy. At lower levels, players will notice Larry droop in a drowsy state. His life-stream, his anima will diminish and slow down his motor skills immensely. Keep the juices too low, and Larry can't participate in any further Larry games. To fly onward and upward, Larry's got to return to stations around campus that supply confidence-boosting mini-games. These spaces are also where Larry can increase his cash stack. Money is the other necessity Larry is required to carry from time to time. Certain mini-games ask that you pay a fee (ranging from 5-15 tokens) to access it. Other times, a mini-game requests a specific type of clothing to be put on in order to communicate with the babe-a-licious beauty in question. Cool, nerd, preppy, dressy, and even gay attires can all be purchased from diverse vendors allocated around campus -- either in the form of a human or a soda machine. More so, it's possible for Larry to get a hold of beer this way (to get drunk), and other miscellaneous items in a form that can ease the difficulty of different mini-games somewhat (such as springy shoes that will provide more heart status at the start of the trampoline game, for example).
Oh, and another thing all you "stoke"-loving perverts out there might want to know about: this Leisure Suit Larry game has a decent collection of bonus content. Beating your small...uh, well, finishing the mini-games to what is considered a flawless victory gets you a perfect win, and thus you'll earn yourself some bonus tokens this way. These can then get you things in the nature of naughtier versions of loading screens (where between entering new sections of the game's connecting levels, you'll view images of scantily clad real-life and video game models of the game's coeds), concept art, viewable nude models of the girls, and even a choice of strip versions of the playable mini-games (where both you and the ladies will peel off layers of clothing for each fault made). Getting a perfect score isn't easy, however. No mini-game is ever exactly the same, so you've got to be ready for these. But as there are tons of extras to be unlocked for anyone who so desires to go that extra distance in wanting to see "everything," the bonus content adds a whole new layer of skin to Larry's already involving exploits.
Standards. It's a word most people use in life's dating game. You'll see many people with high standards, meaning they'll only date the rich, or in other terms gorgeous folk. Middle standards stick out in the heads of those who don't mind expanding on their horizons. Whether they have lots or money or a couple pennies (and they're at least somewhat decent looking on the outside), these kinds of standards are the kind these people want. And lastly there's the lowest standard. The bottom of the barrel, where it doesn't matter how horrible they are on the outside, people in this category know that they've got beauty on the inside. Standards mix up the dating lifestyle, just like they do the visual appeal in games. Judging by the rule of the standard, Magna Cum Laude is by all means stuck in the middle of the road. Its lack of depth in a collaboration of cartoon people and places won't make you want to erase your memory or become so ecstatic your heart will physically pump inward and outward from inside your chest. In the game's simple nature, Magna is set upon a college campus with Larry's dorm room hall, a library, a frat house and a sorority house, and a few other outside and inside territories. These range from interwoven naughty and nice streets to a campus quad, a convenience store, a gay bar, and a local dance club. Navigating most areas comes clean with clarity across its textured but smoothed out sidewalks and brick walls, as well as typical stuff you might expect to see at a college such as this. Computers, tables and chairs are in the library, trees bushes, and benches are in the outdoor gallery. You'll find hi-tech gizmos in the science lab, flashing lights and a bar in the dance club, and oddly enough, plenty of interactive clutter spread across the ground too, like bottles, cans, and crumbled papers that Larry will step upon and kick just about everywhere he walks. But like I said, Magna Cum Laude is a simple game. It's got colorful, cartoony, and singled colors that kind of reminds you of a fantasy college setting made up of silly putty. According to the thumb of rules of standards, without the glamorous shine and without an uninviting display, Larry is a middle man through and through.
Average as the scenery is, the same piece of mind can be pinned to Magna's fair but ordinary character models. In his own light, Larry is the centerpiece of the game. Showing this guy with an oversized head dressed in an every day, light blue dress shirt opened to reveal a yellow top underneath and gray pants (where this outfit can and will be alternated to different costumes and clothes from time to time) is of interest. But more enticing is the different slivers of cake Larry is handed out. You know what I'm talking about -- the pussy. Their female molds are an easy distraction above the other repetitively drab candidates (there is a bunch of the same exact models standing, sitting, and walking around, including a college guy, a college girl, an annoying guy, a lesbian, a factory worker, etc.). Mostly blondes or brunettes satiate Larry's options for his main female attraction in satisfaction (aside from one high-strung red head), who all have their own separate plights. One's a turtle neck wearing book worm, another's a large and in charge ponytailed Russian spy, and another's some sassy French spewing mime. You have a movie major in a preppy waitress getup, and a dark-haired science professor knitted in her lab coat (although, you can imagine this not being there if you tried real hard...or you can just buy the nude model, lazy bones).
Watching them move and seeing them nude, Larry's also got about the right stuff for this gig baby. Through its gameplay -- and also through its story moments, but mostly in gameplay -- the characters of Leisure Suit Larry shake themselves all about. Larry is a running, hopping, and at times a drudgingly slow mover (depending on his confidence situation). When drunk, you'll view a spacey screen of white lines soaring by as if Larry was flying through space, and in his character there's a drunken stupor about. Passing by a verity of NPCs, they'll basically follow the same routine of waving their arms, walking back and forth, or doing whatever business is their business in acceptable mannerisms. During mini-game moments, there's more action to be found, where the girls will shake their breasts for you at key winning moments, or take aim with a displeasing and taunting reaction to your every losery action. Girls will get nude for you at times (tops only), where you can, um...admire the er...yeah. Larry (the game) is a suiting mixture of tolerable aspects and sadly some drastically uneventful ones too. Kind of like comparing one of your favorite old shirts to one you just bought, Magna is out of touch. The aged shirt is still appealing to the eye, but the flashier and ultimately more attractive article will get your vote on what to wear tonight. Sorry Larry, but you're just weekend material.
If you can talk the talk, you can walk the walk. Magna's got this. Smart and wonderful one liners from a likable loser named Larry is the name of this game. In Larry's quest for love, it's possible for Larry to analyze objects around the campus or interact with the NPCs around him. The only problem with this is Larry has but a couple things at most to speak about on certain topics. Target a crappy bench for instance, and Larry will speak about its rotten quality. Target a nicer one, and he'll say something a little different. These moments of the game get boring after a while, but it's the things he says in other places, such as in story moments, where Larry's conversations really come to life. Larry almost sounds like a Jon Lovitz, as his voice carries this smarmy tune to it. When Larry isn't commenting on the finer antiquities of college life, he's belting out hilarious sex jokes and always trying to get into some girl's pants, whether he has to play and voice out the actions in a game of Dungeons and Dragons (with sexy results) or perform a hysterical parody of "Summer Nights" from the movie Grease. Music and audio elements are tapped throughout Magna as well, but just aren't as common as the voiced portions are. Larry can turn on a radio or a TV in some parts of the game to view a short news broadcast or hear "Pop that cootchie" playing amongst a couple of other popular songs. Although, that's most of what the music is in Leisure Suit Larry -- popular songs you might recognize (and will like...likely), and will frequently hear throughout some sections of the game. Audio is limited to the footsteps, flatulent gasses, and breaking of bottles that Larry can do, in addition to a stew of some variable mini-game beeps, buzzes, and the like. Where the writing is strong for Larry and his female friends, not all of Magna is as cum laude as the rest of it.
Pig. Pervert. Poisoner. Call me what you will, but you forget that...that it wasn't I who made Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. I just played it. Ah ha! Now who's on the receiving end? Well uh, maybe that's not such a good way to look at things. But in all seriousness, this isn't the worst of the worst games available. Leisure Suit Larry isn't close to Game of the Year material either. Repetitive, however interesting mini-game fun doesn't make a dull light much brighter. This game right here, published by Vivendi and developed by High Voltage Software, is a release for those of you adults out there who enjoy the underbelly of society, the aspect we all know is there but just don't discuss so freely: pornography. Naysayers would be right to see this game as something that doesn't have a higher purpose other than to debase women (in certain quantities, anyhow). In part, that's what this game's about, though.