LEISURE SUIT LARRY 1 VGA / Sierra / PC
As with Sierra's other VGA facelifts of their early titles, LSL1 VGA doesn't do much to address inherent problems in the gameplay from the original. That's not too big a deal here, however, as the original Larry was one of the more solid of Sierra's early adventures and doesn't really need much more than a gussying up here to make it more accessible to newcomers. They did miss some opportunities to improve upon the original, but as it is this version is still one of the better Larry games, a pretty good adventure game generally speaking, and worth the trip for those who've already taken on the older incarnation of Larry.
For those trying on the polyester for the first time, Larry is a 40something perennial loser who decides to head for the city of Lost Wages to finally rid himself of his cursed virginity (the original 40 Year Old Virgin!) He arrives with only $82 in his pocket, a watch and some breath spray. The player's goal is to parlay this into a satisfying tryst with a lovely lady, but with who? And where?
The answer is found by exploring the not-so-large city of Lost Wages. You begin in front of Lefty's Bar, and can hail a cab to further areas that contain the casino and marraige chapel (next to each other), and the convenience store and disco (also next to each other.) Cab rides in this one start at $13 and seem to increase in denominations of $3 each time you pass through one of these three areas, however, so an early goal is to get Larry some funds by heading to the casino.
Unfortunately, the casino is the only way to replenish your money, and this was probably the biggest issue in the original game. It's still an issue here, but lower dollar values for the plot-related events makes it a little less aggravating than it was in the EGA version. Your options are video blackjack and video slots only, and the expedient way to get the bankroll you need is simply the ol' save-restore shuffle while betting the maximum every hand. I don't gamble much IRL, but when I do I actually enjoy video blackjack, and I'm about as good as anyone can possibly be at it (basic strategy is pretty simple when you've eliminated the possibility of counting cards), so I didn't mind this much, but those not inclined to enjoy such things may find it irritating, especially when a plot event later in the game steals your bankroll and forces you to work back up from $10 (don't bother winning more than about $500 until this happens, and after it does happen you shouldn't need more than $100.) One thing I did notice about the blackjack game is that I think the programmers set it to automatically bust you out with a 10 if you try to run more than four low-value cards, either that or I had an epic run of bad luck of having it happen to me five straight times. Also, unlike real life, take insurance when offered here, because it seemed the dealer gets blackjack far more often than not when they show an ace. And as with IRL, I didn't even look at the video slots :)
While the VGA uplift looks really good, adds a nice score by Chris Braymen that manages to be loungey yet still enjoyable, and generally makes the gameplay experience a little smoother, it didn't take the opportunity to really address the one major problem with the original, which was that it offers maybe two hours of gameplay total (even with the gambling padding) at absolute best. In fact, the game was originally that short by intent, as it starts at 10 P.M. and Larry has only until midnight to score with the "ultimate babe" or he kills himself! The game is pretty good about not killing you off at random, and while it's much tamer and less surprising now, it's still good for at least a chuckle here and there.
* Leisure Suit Larry Lounge
* Gameplay Video