Games time forgot: Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail!

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The picture you see before you probably does a better job of encapsulating the spirit of Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! than words ever could. The character you see smiling in the foreground and plastered endlessly in the background is called — and I am not making this up — Where’s Dildo.

Yeah, it’s that kind of game.

Love for Sail, the seventh-in-name, sixth-in-actuality installment of the Leisure Suit Larry series, continues the franchise tradition in presenting potentially pornographic material in a completely benign, innuendo-laden sort of way. For those gamers whose experience with the LSL series involves the crapfest that was Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, you really owe it to yourself to see Larry in his prime. A lot of the humor misses the mark and the game is a bit easy when compared to older Larry titles, but Love for Sail still remains an entertaining and frequently funny exercise in juvenile humor in an adventure game setting.

That, and there are hidden boobies.

[Special thanks to bhive01 for reminding me of this game’s existence.]

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Story:

As with all the Leisure Suit Larry titles, the plot of Love For Sail revolves around Larry attempting to get laid through somewhat dishonest, but ultimately harmless means. This time, Larry Laffer finds himself on the P.M.S. Bouncy, a singles cruise ship which sponsors a rather odd weekly contest: anyone who wins variety of competitions aboard the ship (cooking, horseshoes, gambling, sexual prowess) is given access to the private quarters of the ship’s captain (named — wait for it — Captain Thygh), ostensibly for a weekend of pleasant conversation and intelligent debate.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Love for Sail isn’t for geniuses: the names of Larry’s potential mates border on the embarrassing (Jamie Lee Coitus, Annette Boning, Dewmi Moore), a great deal of the puzzles revolve around Larry’s (mostly failed) attempts to get laid, and the entire game is filled with an immature — if entertaining — attitude toward relationships and lovemaking. In other words, Love for Sail is the perfect game for a thirteen-year-old, which is exactly what I was when I first played it.

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Gameplay:

The bulk of the game’s puzzles concern the different contests Larry has to win in order to reach Captain Thygh. As Larry is stupid, ugly, and generally untalented, you’ll have to find ways to cheat in every single contest in order to win. For the most part, all of these contests can be completed at any time and are totally independent of one another; if you get stuck on the gambling puzzles, you can always leave and try your hand at horseshoes. Many adventure games have used this structure before in small doses (reassembling your bike in Full Throttle, for example, requires the player to find three different bike parts which can be attained in any order), but roughly 90% of Love for Sail revolves follows this structure, representing a pleasant change of pace from the standard, totally linear titles from other adventure game series. Gameplay-wise, Love for Sail is pretty laid back: it’s a cruise, man, just hang out and get around to the puzzles when you get to them. You can’t die or anything, so there’s no rush.

Beyond its relatively simple adventure game structure, however, Love for Sail is positively chock-full of cute little gameplay quirks and distractions and minigames that really set the title apart. It’s late and I’m tired, and that means it’s list time:

-After meeting and failing to have sex with any of the women in the game, you are awarded with a 640×480 wallpaper of said woman, done in the style of a 1950’s Playboy spread. But with no nudity.

-The onscreen cursor is a condom, which is displayed as still in its packaging during loading screens, floppy and flacid when the mouse isn’t hovering over something Larry can interact with, and inflated and pointy when it hovers over something he can.

-In addition to the multiple, obvious actions Larry can perform on any given item or person (open, give, use, etc), the player can also access a parser system, which allows you to type any action you want. Implemented as a throwback to the old parser-based LSL games (one through three required you to type EVERY action, ALL the time), the parser system is sometimes required as an unconventional means of solving puzzles, sometimes used for funny throwaway gags (clicking on Larry and typing “masturbate” results in the narrator saying, “Larry, the whole point was to STOP doing that!”), and, occasionally, to activate some of the hidden nudity easter eggs (as mentioned hyah, clicking on a stuffed beaver and typing “milk” unlocks a sex scene).

-The player has the option to insert his voice or face into the game, should he so desire. A waiter character talks to Larry offscreen at one point in the game, and if you replace the default .wav files of his dialogue with your own (the original game instructions gave a quite detailed explanation of how to do this), you would essentially be voicing a peripheral character in the game. Similarly, several areas around the ship hold portraits of Al Lowe, the creator, in a yachting outfit, which can easily be replaced with a picture of the player’s face (with the yachting clothes remaining, of course).

-Finding all 32 hidden Where’s Dildos unlocks an extended ending, which features a cliffhanger setting up the never-finished sequel, Leisure Suit Larry 8: Lust in Space, along with unsurprisingly featuring about one and a half seconds of boobies and sex.

-At one point, you have to play Strip Liar’s Dice in order to progress through the game. Nothing monumentally innovative, but pretty damn fun.

-The game shipped with a scratch n’ sniff card, divided up into nine numbered quadrants. As Larry entered certain locations, a number would flash onscreen in the upper left-hand corner; at this point, the player would ostensibly scratch the respective quadrant on the card and then sniff it, in order to get an idea of what Larry was smelling at that particular moment. I don’t remember if the cards smelled good, but I know that, at the very least, they weren’t as nose-destroyingly awful as the Nintendo Power Earthbound scratch n’ sniff cards. Though that’s not saying much, considering those goddamned things could kill someone through the sheer force of their stank.

 

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Why You Probably Haven’t Played It:

Mainly, we can chalk it up to the age-old “it’s an adventure games and adventure games have been slowly dying over the last twenty years” excuse, as unpleasant and vague as it may be. Personally, I know I had some trouble purchasing the game because (A) it was rated M and I was thirteen, and (B) my parents were under the absolutely correct impression that I was buying it as some sort of poor man’s pornography.

They eventually decided it was probably harmless and helped me buy it, but I have to imagine that many other similarly sexually-repressed children across the United States weren’t so fortunate. Love for Sail is sort of a catch-22: the game is too raunchy for youngsters, but too immature for anyone old enough to legally purchase it. That said, if you’re a young teenager with forgiving parents or an adult with severe social problems, you’ll goddamn love this game. It’s 100 points on Goozex or, as I did, you can buy it as part of the Leisure Suit Larry Ultimate Pleasure Pack, which goes for around $30 on eBay and collects every single Leisure Suit Larry game ever made onto four or five discs. All things considered, a hell of a bargain.

At the very least, you’ll get a better experience than what one might find in Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude which, apart from serving as an abysmal collection of boring minigames, doesn’t star the same character and was made without any input from Al Lowe whatsoever.

Anthony Burch