"If anyone is going to ever salute another classic Sierra franchise, they may want to play the games first, then either hire the original game designer as a consultant, or stop trying."
---from the review
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Pros: Al Lowe is still alive after reading about this one.
Cons: The game player is still alive to remember playing this one.
Why Nudity Is "Banned" and Violence is "Cool.": Not to sound like a pacifist, because I love first person shooters as much as the next guy, but, come on: what is with the constant nitpick whenever a game has even the tiniest amount of titillation, yet violence is hip, cool, and "okay"...? All gamers probably remember the "Hot Coffee mod" controversy, where sex mini-games were added to a Grand Theft Auto game. Yet purists who complained about such an addition to the game forgot to note that it was a game that ALREADY had you shooting people in the face in broad daylight as you stole their cars. Not that any of this matters here; this game has no real titillation, violence, or...anything. Yet what if it did? Would the game sell more if the western shootout was bloody, or would it sell LESS if some purist saw the bump map of a "nipple" underneath some fabric? Crazy world, eh?
With or Without Lowe, Dudes: WTF?: Sequels are rarely made by the same producer and director. James Cameron made sequel gold when he turned Alien into the classic sequel, Aliens, while some fans insist that the best Star Wars movies, aside from the original, were all done by someone other than George Lucas. So it's no surprise that someone would consider making a game sequel without Al Lowe, the original game's creator. Yet such a daring exercise takes experience, wit, and frankly, some bizarre idea of what sort of game you had in mind. Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust has none of the above. In fact; the only success is arguably that they got the last word right in the game title: "bust" is exactly what this is.
Leisure Suit Larry:
Box Office Bust
Click picture to order this PC game
A Techtite Review
As you read this review: please note this is from a game critic who actually liked the prior Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. It may have had one too many mini-games, though coming from new game designers, was an admirable "first try." The only real gripes I had were the load times and the lack of original game designer Al Lowe, at the bare minimum, as a consultant. What other game lets you play a round of college "slaps" where the girl's clothes literally slap off? Funny...! The game played like a Farrelly brothers movie...in a good way. It had flaws, though these flaws would be resolved in the inevitable sequel, right?
Before I answer that obvious question: let's be clear, that this "sequel" ...isn't. Magna Cum Laude's intended sequel by its original game design team, Cocoa Butter, was scrapped, only to be replaced by a project called Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust, which had no relation to the other two games, and, no surprise, was also scrapped. Then Larry himself was scrapped, when his parent game company was, well...scrapped. Then someone wanted to revive the Larry franchise again, and instead of reviving Cocoa Butter, they chose Box Office Bust instead. Was this a smart move? Guess.
First complaint: Larry. Personally, I didn't like the idea of Larry's "nephew" in Magna Cum Laude, though I felt it made sense to the story because "Larry" was still in college, and not a middle aged man. Yet in this game he's working at a movie studio. Okay, so...why not bring back the original lead character, Larry Laffer? Why are we playing as his nephew yet again? More importantly: what the heck happened to him? He was creepy enough as a big headed geek in college. Now he looks like some ether-induced nightmare at a dentist's office. What's with the teeth? "Creepy" is putting it mildly, for this horribly horrid caricature.
Gameplay? Well, the idea here is to...to...? Actually I have no clue what they had in mind here. Mini-games are not exactly what's intended here. Graphic adventure gaming is not what was intended here. I'd guess they intended for Larry to now be in a platform game like Super Mario, though...seriously? At the bare minimum offer a decent tutorial for this game's control schemes. This is especially important when asking gamers to walk precariously over ropes, with the threat of instant death if they fall; an annoying puzzle as it is, without an incongruous control scheme. The so-called "tutorial" tells you to press B1 and B2 without telling you what keys they're talking about. There are few games so poorly designed that the "tutorial" doesn't even know which key is assigned to which action. This is one of those games.
Perhaps I could've saved teenagers some time reading all the above, with two simple words: no nudity. Granted, Magna Cum Laude's severely R-rated humor was thwarted Stateside, when its uncut version was banned as an over-the-shelf U.S. game title, forcing U.S. gamers to buy the "director's cut" (i.e.; the version casually sold in every game store in Europe) as an online download. So in order to prevent any more problems with U.S. censorship: some nincompoop decided to cure the disease by killing the patient. Sure, the voice overs have a gutter tongue, and yet graphically, this game is tame even by original Larry game standards. Feel free to buy Witcher or the equivalent, if you want to see a mature depiction of mature adult relationships, done in a very mature way. If you want to see caricatures with big teeth talk with a gutter tongue, well...enjoy.
Speaking of gutter tongues: maybe this game would've been better, had the budget not been wasted on "actual celebrities" as the voice talent, with little sign of a budget elsewhere. One question, though: did Jay Mohr, Shannon Elisabeth, and Carmen Electra get to see the characters they voice? I feel a lawsuit pending here. You might think my needle is stuck in the groove with yet another "ugly characters" rant, and believe me: this review only scratches the surface of this game's flaws.
Then there's the load times. Yes, they are actually worse than the load times for MCL. How? Because this time, the load times are used to load...nothing! Say what you will about Magna Cum Laude; every area had something for you to do. This game places you in a movie studio that seemingly goes on for miles and miles. Yet what do they put in these miles and miles of level maps? Nothing! You trek load time after load time to reach your next destination, far, far away from wherever you are. You will yearn for the sprint button at the beginning, only to seek out those insufferably slow go carts later on, in a desperate attempt at "speed." Half a decade ago, Larry was slowed down by the questionable choice of constant load screens. Now he's slowed down by the constant need for walking, walking, walking, walking ---Is that a go-cart? No? Aw!--- walking, walking, and yes...walking.
Some critics have thrown this game a bone for it's end-of-mission mini game. In short; after completing each movie set's challenges, you get to splice Larry's adventures into a short film. The problem is: the footage is everything you already saw, and what you saw was pretty boring. Relive the same bad puns, the same shoddy animation, and the same odd combination of both. Maybe the whole point is that these short films are meant to look stupid, though as a game, they look even more so.
It doesn't help that the game designers clearly had no love for the people who would buy this game. No; seriously. Many of the best games were made by lovers of games, for lovers of games. Yet how is a gamer supposed to react when this game actually pokes fun at...you?!? I think when the game offered the "game hint" that I should move out of my parent's basement, I stopped loving this game. I mean, really; how stupid is it for game designers to poke fun at how "pathetic" a gamer was to even try playing their game?
I'd be remiss if I didn't end this review with the obligatory "What did you expect?" paragraph. First things first: Al Lowe as consultant. At worst, the guy asks (deservedly) for a high salary, you can't afford him, though hey; you tried, you can say you tried, and AL isn't tearing you a new one "reviewing" your game on his web site, mockingly "thanking" you for not inviting him to participate in your game (ouch!). Second requirement: nudity. Not in the titillating sense, as much as the humor sense. Nudity can be hilarious if done right, especially when Larry was streaking across campus with his new girlfriend to avoid campus security, in the prior game. That's funny stuff! Third thing: instead of hiring a celebrity voice, may I suggest a celebrity writer? If someone were to read a title like "Leisure Suit Larry Meets The Farrelly Brothers," the result might be video game gold. Maybe. At the very least it would be intriguing, and so far, Larry hasn't been intriguing for years.