LEISURE SUIT LARRY 3 / Sierra / PC (1989)
Larry 3 is a "return to the roots", so to speak; instead of epic questing we're once again in a small tourist trap trying to pick up on as many women as possible. But didn't we leave the previous game in a state of marital bliss? Well, Larry seems to be unusually susceptible to the vagaries of fortune. Larry returns home to find his wife Kalalau has left him for an Amazonian lesbian cannibal; in one fell swoop he's lost his wife, home, and cushy job working for Kalalau's father. Broke and alone, but undaunted, Larry seizes this fresh opportunity to return to his swingin' ways. Unfazed by the fact that he's homeless and has nowhere to spend the night, Larry immediately sets about scouring the resort island Nontoonyt for young nubiles. This is a man who has his priorities all straightened out.
There's four girls on the island that you can have unsatisfying trysts with, and then there's Passionate Patti - the woman of Larry's dreams. The first two girls must be had in order, however; after that, Patti becomes accessible and you can skip the other two if you like. That's maybe the first 3/4 of the game - to end things out you switch over to Patti, as she searches for Larry after he wigs out and runs off into the jungle. Larry's portion of the game is fairly easy and straightforward, if you are LOOKing at everything diligently the solutions are all but spelled out for you. Patti's segment is much shorter but a bit tougher, as her puzzles are a lot more obtuse and it's possible to miss a trivial item early on only to be stuck later and unable to return for it. Like Larry, however, Patti has at all times a very limited inventory to work with, and a relative few screens to navigate, so screwing around with what you have and whatever's on the screen usually yields progress without much trouble.
The game is fraught with "Sierra moments", and the coding was less forward-thinking than that of the previous game. The copy protection is interwoven throughout the game in several points as puzzle solutions. A pass to a burlesque show and a locker combination require you to look up numbers on certain pages of the magazine Nontoonyt Tonight; like all his other games, Al Lowe has released these on his personal website and it's less than a page of material to print out. Slightly more nefarious is a jungle maze that Patti later faces down, the solution to which is hidden in a song; I wouldn't spoil it as it's a puzzle solution, except that without the manual you'd have no way of figuring it out. Al's got the information on his page along with everything else, but if his site ever goes down email me, as it's been burned into my brain for life I'm afraid. A somewhat bigger problem are the various timing bugs scattered throughout the game - Larry 3 doesn't respond well to modern PCs. Poor Cherri Tart whirls around on one foot for a solid ten minutes, the weight machines require well over a thousand reps on a Pentium 4 system, the elevator to the casino penthouse is broken and Patti's game-ending ride down the wild rapids is too fast to be playable. A patch available at Mr. Lowe's site fixes all of these issues, exception of the log ride, which can be skipped anyway (though you'll have to sacrifice some points). So it's nothing insurmountable, and I've heard that playing via DOSBox fixes all these ills as well.
The graphics are very colorful and lively, and the close-ups of the women are about as good as you can hope for with 16-color EGA. This was the first game in the series that had a proper soundtrack; the score by Mike Dana is largely lounge music, but it's pretty good lounge music, and well suited to the tacky resort environment and Larry's character. Much better is the Larry/Patti theme which is excellent (even if part of it is lifted from Erik Satie's Trois Gymnopedies) and the music during Patti's dangerous trek through the jungle. Unfortunately, the sound was designed with the Roland MT32 sound card in mind - if you happen to have one, swell, but if like most modern players you're using DOSBox or VDMSound and it's Adlib emulation the music comes out so squawky and trashy as to be nearly unlistenable at points. It's really butchered and you're probably better off just playing without sound.
Like all the Larry games, it's a romp, and neither too difficult nor too worried about making sense. It's definetly more polished than either of the two previous games and has much better overall structure. I'd say this is probably the best of the Larry games, actually - though I'd have to play Larry 6 again (haven't in seven or eight years) to get a refresher and see if that one was any better. In any case, I don't think it belongs in the top tier of adventure games, but it's funny enough and playable enough that it's worth a go.