Computer Graphics Memory Disk Space Minimum 286-12 VGA -- 10 meg Max/Rec. 386 2 meg Control: Mouse Sound: All major sound boards, General Midi Notes: 599,000 bytes conventional memory needed for sound Will run under Windows with 2 meg RAM Supports separate sound boards for music and sound effects Reviewed version 1.0 on: 386-33, 4 megs ram, Sound Blaster Reviewer recommends: 386-20, sound board(s)
It seems like Leisure Suit Larry has been around as long as there have been IBM PC's to run games on. After all these years, one might think that Larry would have found his dream woman and settled down by now. Of course, this is not the case, and designer Al Lowe (inspired, no doubt, by the success of his new FREDDY PHARKAS, FRONTIER PHARMACIST), happily proves Larry still has plenty of fight left in him. And so, after a somewhat disappointing LARRY 5, we have LEISURE SUIT LARRY 6: SHAPE UP OR SLIP OUT (LL6)--and Larry gets another chance to prove himself in all sorts of risqué situations.
LL6 eschews all connections with the previous Larry games (and Larry's former love, Passionate Patti) in favor of a completely new setting and plot. As a guest on the game show for swinging singles, "Stallions", Larry wins a trip to the La Costta Lotta health spa. For those unclear on the concept, the object of LL6 (as in all Larry games) is to meet a variety of beautiful ladies and, eventually, get Larry into a situation where he can try out that new Zipper icon ("If you don't know what it's for, you bought the wrong game!" proclaims the on-line help). And so it begins.
Installation is a snap and very straightforward. It takes about as long as you would expect for ten megs. The intro. to LL6 is nice to watch once, though it drags on a bit. It sets up the game well and, at least, doesn't give the impression that a ridiculous amount of hard drive space was devoted to it. Once the game begins, Larry can roam around just about anywhere in La Costa Lotta. This non-linearity makes for a very enjoyable game, since the player is free to go almost anywhere, in any order. Of course, there are a few inaccessible locations which open up after certain actions are completed (to keep the player interested) but the freedom of movement is a nice change from the excessive linearity of Larry 5. LL6 plays like a standard Sierra graphic adventure. The interface will be familiar, though there are differences and improvements. The icon bar is now displayed permanently at the bottom of the screen; underneath, the items in Larry's inventory are available. This new arrangement is very convenient--because the inventory is visible all the time, it's easy to see at a glance what items are available to work with. The only catch is that the graphics are no longer full-screen. No big deal. There is an icon for picking up objects as well as using them, instead of one icon for both. Another helpful touch. Further, each icon has a dot on it which allows for precise positioning of it in on the screen.
As for challenge and puzzle quality, LL6 rates highly in my book. Each time I thought I had finished off a puzzle, some new complication would arise, making me think a bit harder. This made for a well-balanced, fairly challenging game. There were only a couple of puzzles which I thought were somewhat annoying; where the solution was something silly. There is a total of 1000 points to strive for. I personally came close but couldn't find all 1000. Most actions are worth less than 20. I realize many players don't replay a game of this type to find the missing points--I couldn't find any reason to, myself. Apparently, there is a patch available which corrects some bugs related to the puzzles--I did not find any use for it. The game performed beautifully and I encountered no technical glitches. For the most part, solving the puzzles is fair, fun and challenging.
Graphically, LL6 somehow manages to stand out among Sierra's games. The backgrounds don't have that carefully shaded, carefully painted, "neat and tidy" look that Larry 5 and SPACE QUEST 4 had. Instead, it looks as though the color was splashed onto the screen instead of nit-picking over each pixel. Though some might not appreciate this "sloppy" approach to the graphics, I liked it very much, if only because it looks *different* from other Sierra games, and it adds to the overall "fun" feel of the game. Of course, the ladies of La Costa Lotta demand special attention. Never has a Larry game featured such beautiful women! Much closer to a photographic look than the other Larry games. Finally, the cartoon-style animation is wonderful--Larry's mannerisms give him a lot of personality, instead of just being a lump of pixels. There is rumored to be a CD-ROM version coming soon which will apparently feature SVGA graphics.
The audio is wonderful, in typical Sierra style. The digitized sound effects add a lot to the game and the music is higher quality than any previous Larry game. Both add a lot in the way of humor and atmosphere. Both can be toggled off, though only the music volume can be adjusted.
I would have to say that the best thing about LL6 is the humor. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard playing a graphic adventure game, especially a Larry game. A lot of the dialogue is subtle, which is greatly appreciated. It's great to have situations where both the player and Larry are kept guessing as to the outcome. The women in Larry (there are six, all unique) have a great deal of personality (not to mention appearance) and the type of puzzles related to each are nicely appropriate.
I just have a couple of nit-picks. There were a couple of areas in the game where I was told I couldn't save the game due to insufficient memory. Not really a problem, just annoying. Also, there are a couple of places where getting Larry to go to the area you want him to is a bit tricky--it requires a very precise mouse-click, that's all. Moving him with the keyboard is also possible and occasionally helpful.
I don't think too many players will be disappointed by this game, particularly the fans of the series. Admittedly, an icon-based interface will always make the game easier than a typing interface. LL6 may not be harder than the early Larry games, but it's still plenty hard.
Congratulations to Al Lowe for concocting the best Leisure Suit Larry yet!This review is Copyright (C) 1993 by Greg Cymbalist for Game Bytes Magazine. All rights reserved.