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SummaryLarry doesn't need to be reloaded
The GoodI am a big Leisure Suit Larry fan. The original version was my first adventure game. In introduced me to a magical genre that occupied my entire gaming interests at the dawn of my hobby. I solved it without any outside help. I was thrilled every time I found the right solution to a puzzle. I learned many English words playing that game. And much later, having discovered all its sequels, I enjoyed them as well and was always thankful to Al Lowe for creating all these gems that constituted an important bloc of classic adventuring.
Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is not a remake of that game - it is a remake of its remake. First things first - I'm glad they decided to make it, and that despite the fact I think there was no need to make it. Allow me to explain: I'm glad somebody out there tries to keep the stagnant series (as well as the entire adventure genre) alive. I'm glad that they didn't make yet another embarrassing collection of inane mini-games and slapped Larry's name on it. I'm simply glad to discover that there are people who loved these games so much that they were determined to release a remake which, as they knew as well as anyone else, would never enter mainstream gaming the way the originals did. They created it out of passion, and that's a sentiment I appreciate most by game developers.
A lot of love was obviously put into this remake. They carefully preserved all the original's content and added some new stuff as well. The best part is decidedly the interaction. Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded has much more text than the earlier versions, with varied feedback to actions that are anything but essential to solving the game's puzzles. You'll get many more different responses from trying to use every item on every person you meet, circle through available actions in any situation, etc. There are many more funny comments, and even the old dialogues are greatly expanded.
There is a bit more content in the game world as well. For example, there are new minor characters in the casino, as well as a couple of new areas that weren't there before. One of these areas leads to a new girl with dialogues and a new set of puzzles, built in such a way that completing her arc is necessary to succeed in the final "confrontation". And all the dialogues are voiced, which is always a nice option to have.
The BadI feel bad criticizing this game, because it is essentially an independent effort that needed crowd funding to materialize, and it would be unrealistic to expect blockbuster production values from it. But if viewed objectively, regardless of budget and other similar considerations, this version loses to the first remake on all fronts.
The 1991 edition had cutting-edge graphics that aged gracefully. In this remake, they tried to recreate the style of Love for Sail, made five years afterwards. Unfortunately, it looks nowhere as appealing as that final installment in the classic series. Background graphics are annoyingly bright, there is something crude in the coloring, and artistically they are nowhere near any of the series' earlier installments. There is a severe lack of animation, and even the new versions of full-screen portraits of the girls are rather underwhelming, to say the least. It's a pity, but these graphics have very little of the charming aesthetics that made earlier games so attractive.
I dare say that even if this game managed to re-capture the visual magic of Love for Sail, it wouldn't matter any more. Seventeen years have passed, and cartoony 2D has long become a relic of the past. Probably they had serious budget constraints, but maybe cel-shaded 3D would have been a better idea. The remake we receive now looks like a barely adequate product from almost two decades ago, I don't quite see the necessity of being so uncompromisingly retro. I had similar feelings for the two Phantasy Star remakes: why was there a need to remake anything in an outdated visual style if the original versions were already top of the line for their respective epochs?
They added more responses and a few new puzzles. Alas, there is nothing particularly interesting in them, and one of the puzzles comes with an infuriating bug - a certain action leads to the desired outcome only if an invisible trigger has been activated before. I don't think Leisure Suit Larry needed any new puzzles. If it needed anything at all, it would probably be gameplay features that would make it closer to modern gaming. How cool would it be, for example, to navigate Larry through a seamless 3D Lost Wages, allowing him to physically interact with the environment? Or maybe I'm just having a foolish dream and that kind of game would be bound to fail. Maybe the old adventure style is completely incompatible with any achievement of modern gaming. In that case, I can only repeat the question: why did we even need a remake? And even more so, why did we need a remake of an already excellent remake?..