LEISURE SUIT LARRY 2 / Sierra On-Line / PC (1988)
Larry 2 is very different from its prequel. Instead of a semi-linear open-ended quest to "score" in a relatively small game world, this one's a sort of epic linear quest more in the mold of Sierra's typical adventures. And, with the exception of a few gags and innuendos and the occasional miniature pixelized boob here and there, it's nearly totally devoid of sex! This is, indeed, easily the most sexless game of the whole Larry series. Larry has apparently grown past his mid-life crisis and adolescent need to put his peepee into the first warm hole he's given permission to, and is now seeking true love and a companion to settle down with. As the game begins, he thinks he's found it in the girl from the end of the previous game, Eve. But apparently their tryst meant a whole lot more to Larry than it did to her; upon his (unanticipated) arrival at her apartment in downtown Los Angeles, he finds himself rudely rejected and barred from entry. Larry seemingly didn't come up with a backup plan; he's now out on the streets of LA with literally nothing to his name. Of course, with the usual spate of incredible luck and coincidence he'll soon find himself an instant millionaire and off on a luxury cruise in search of the woman of his dreams.
The game is divided into four major areas - Los Angeles, the cruise ship, some unnamed beach resort and Nontoonyt Island - and once you've left one you can't go back to it. Most of the game's puzzles are centered around finding every obscure object you can in each area, which will usually be used to solve some unforeseen puzzle in one of the next. Needless to say, this leads to a whole lot of restoring of your game. In fact, some of these puzzles can't even reasonably be solved without getting screwed over by forgetting an item in an earlier area and then having to go back for it. Sierra is famous for these sorts of "hang-up" puzzles (and it's a large part of the reason why their games are considered inferior to the adventures of Lucasarts), but this game takes it to the particular extreme of making pretty much it's entire structure revolve around it. Here's an example. At the outset of the game, Larry manages to win both a million-dollar lottery and a ride on a cruise ship. At this point, you're free to leave Los Angeles, but there are numerous things in town you need to acquire before going or you'll die at some point in the future. Miss even one of these things and you are stuck and will have to restore an older game (or perhaps even start over entirely if you haven't been judiciously making multiple saves). One of the items you need from LA is some sunscreen, which is buried in the back of a convenience store, and there's absolutely nothing in the normal progress of the game to indicate that you need to buy it or that it's even there. If you don't get it, however, you'll go through the entirety of the next sequence (the cruise ship) before finding out that you need it and summarily being killed. That's a lot of ground to re-tread, and there are other similar examples such as failing to get the airsick bag on the plane, which forces you to redo the entirety of Nontoonyt Island. This was really the first Larry game that Al Lowe fully designed from the ground up - Larry 1 was largely structured around an old text game called Softporn written by someone else - and I think the inexperience shows in this clumsy setup.
The graphics are actually quite good, given the state of things at the time - many scenes have animated background detail and the close-ups of people look about as good as they can in EGA. There's very little music - just a token short tune here and there - but I can't say that really detracts much from the game. One nice thing is that the game runs pretty much flawlessly on modern computers, with no patching or hacking required - the total absence of Sierra's notorious "arcade sequences" probably having a lot to do with that. There's only one bit of copy protection at the beginning (and Al Lowe has released it on his personal site, additionally if you have a version of the game prior to 1.2 you can bypass it by typing 555-0724 for whatever girl pops up), and no silly "prove your age" questionnaires to deal with (there is an adjustable "Filth Level" in game, but there's really not much filth to filter out, largely just some light profanity here and there).
It's really not a bad romp of an adventure, provided you can stand the constant saving and restoring and replaying of the same sequences that is required. The humor seems a bit sharper here than it did in either of the games that bookended it, and it's the one game in the series where the focus is on adventure rather than sex. Expect it to give you about 4 hours of playtime, restoring and replaying included.