Welcome back to part 3 of our journey through the history of sex/nudity in video games. Last time we sifted through the pixeltastic adult games on the Atari 2600. If you need to catch up, you can go back and check out part 1 and part 2 at your leisure.
Not long after those games came out, this wonderful thing happened in the early-80s called the “Video Game Crash.” With the over-saturation of the video game market, consumers had grown tired of so many badly made games that the industry in the US basically died. In those couple years, pretty much no one was developing or releasing any adult-themed games and stores didn’t want to carry them. But don’t fear guys, Nintendo soon took gaming out of its short purgatory and back to the mainstream after tricking toy stores to carry the Nintendo Entertainment System with the Robot Operating Buddy, or R.O.B. for short. Not exactly sexy, but it got the job done.
Not Safe For Work
It would still be a few years until any substantial erotic games would be released for a home console, which I will cover sometime soon, so the PC would have to hold horny gamers over until then with the birth of Leisure Suit Larry. The first game in this long running franchise would hit store shelves in 1987, two years after Nintendo saved American gaming. The idea for the title character, Larry Laffer was thought up by Al Lowe and published by Sierra Entertainment. These were the only games Sierra ever made that had significant sexual themes even to this day.
The aforementioned Larry was a balding loser in his late 30s that just can’t get laid. He’s the type of guy that anything coming out of his mouth has a sexual double-meaning. It was up to the player to guide him and try to seduce attractive women…unfortunately you were usually unsuccessful. The series had its origins from Sierra Entertainment’s earlier text-based Softporn Adventure, which was covered in part 1 of this series. The basic story structure was borrowed from that game for the first Leisure Suit Larry. Creator Al Lowe put Larry in a leisure suit on purpose because he thought those old gaming ideas were so dated that they themselves should be wearing one. The series helped to prove adult-themed games could be profitable in a post-crash gaming landscape, along with propelling Sierra to more mainstream success.
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards was a hit for erotic gamers and alliteration fans alike in ‘87. The game’s critical success, along with word-of-mouth advertising, helped it eventually sell over 250,000 copies in its first year even though it was widely pirated. Originally it was developed for the PC DOS and Apple II, but was later ported to a lot of other platforms including the Amiga. The adventure is set in the fictional city of Lost Wages, an obvious joke referring to spending money buying girls drinks in a bar without actually taking them home, or losing your wages. OH! It’s actually a parody of Las Vegas, now the lost wages part makes a little more sense. I still like it better my way.
Larry is delusional and walks up to girls saying his name is “Laffer, Larry Laffer” akin to James Bond in his movies. People were cornier in the ‘80s. This would end up being a staple in the series as James Bond became more unhip. It really kind of stayed that way (except for Goldeneye 64) until stupid sexy Daniel Craig started prancing around the beach in his underwear a few years back. You’re welcome ladies.
I digress, Larry starts the game with $94 in his pocket and the player has 2 real-time hours to bag 1 of 4 possible women: a prostitute, a clubbing slut, the good girl with a boyfriend, and a hot-tubbing babe…Larry’s ultimate goal. The city also consists of 5 areas to find these ladies: Lefty’s Bar, a hotel casino, a 24-hour wedding chapel, a disco, and a convenience store. At the end of the 2 hours, Larry gets laid or kills himself. He can find the prostitute in a pinch and bang it out, but might catch an STD and die anyway if you don’t remember to buy a condom from the convenience store. If you try and fuck the prostitute with a rubber on, Larry can’t let himself do it and you go on with the game anyway. No wonder he’s still a virgin. Make up your mind man.
In a fun little twist, Larry can be saved from “dying” early in the game by heros from Sierra’s other games (like King’s Quest) by taking him to a lab and putting him back together like a robot.
Larry’s interactions with any of the main women are accompanied by a detailed image, unlike any of the other people he speaks with throughout the game. All but the prostitute hate him at first, but will warm up to him after he showers them with gifts. What a surprise, ha. He can’t get with all of these ladies but money is needed to buy them gifts anyway if you want to proceed to the end of the game in the hotel penthouse. The only way you can make money is to gamble in the casino choosing either blackjack or the slots. I guess Larry is anti-job?
I personally never played the older computer games like these, because we didn’t have a computer when I was a little kid. I’m also pretty sure my mom would have put the kibosh on any sexual PC games for a 5 year old kid. I did, however, rent a few of the games much later in the series for the Playstation 2 and original Xbox when they came out. From first-hand experience, the first few games are the only ones you want to attempt playing, and the first one was a trailblazer. The later installments brought little new to the table other than updated graphics or playing around with the story a little bit. Oh hey, how’s it going Madden?
Kickstarter proved that the fans weren’t quite done with the franchise after funding the recently-released HD reboot called Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded in all it’s pervy glory. At the end of June 2013 it became available on the PC and Mac, along with on iOS and Android devices for 20 bucks. President of Replay Games, Paul Trowe, recently acquired the rights to Larry and plans on releasing more games in the series down the road. He’s originally worked on the first game and has an invested interest in revitalizing the IP. In fact, you can read a full interview with him here on NSFW Gamer. We also reviewed the game itself, which can also be read here. See you next time!
– David Chaney