Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals
First posted on 22 July 2009. Last updated on 11 August 2009.
Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals is the third game in Leisure Suit Larry series from Sierra On-Line. When I first play this game, I must admit I have mixed feelings toward it. On the positive side, the sequel stays true to the spirit of Al Lowe's zany, tongue-in-cheek humor of a chauvinistic male who tries so desperately to score with the opposite sex. On the negative side, the sequel does not follow strictly the simply point and click style of a classic adventure game. Rather, its demanding gameplay and complicated keyboard control make it a difficult game to enjoy. If you are interested in Leisure Suit Larry, I recommend playing instead other titles in the series and skipping over this.
In the late 1980s, graphical adventure games were in vogue. Classic series such as King's Quest and Monkey Island had earned their places in video game history. It was during this period of time that Leisure Suit Larry made its debut. At first, the series was thought to be a marketing failure, but sales of the early titles grew steadily until the franchise was declared to be a major commercial hit. Despite this early success, the ongoing negative publicity the series had garnered as being among the raunchiest video games on the market had gradually caused most gamers' interests in the series to wane, so that Lowe and his design team had initially decided to close the saga at the end of the unplanned trilogy. However, in an unexpected turn of fate, the popularity of Leisure Suit Larry skyrocketed again after this game (much to my bafflement) such that Sierra On-Line eventually decided to resurrect the series with yet another sequel years later.
The game starts off where the previous game has ended. Larry is on the island of Nontoonyt and is married to the chief's daughter. In a sad twist, Larry discovers that his beloved wife Kalalau has now found her marital bliss instead with a lesbian biker repairwoman. So, in the usual Laffer manner, Larry quickly settles his divorce and moves onto doing what he knows best—seduce every woman he sees in sight, that is, until he meets Patti, a pianist with whom he quickly falls in love (again).
The game does not offer too much that is new in term of the story. It is mostly a repetitive tale, except for the twist in the ending. If you are already a fan of Leisure Suit Larry, you will undoubtedly enjoy the same quirky humor and whimsical story that is a trademark of the series. If you are not, however, the game can get boring really quickly while you struggle to decipher the complicated controls for the game. Even though this sequel features some genuinely funny dialogs and mildly amusing situations, it fails to retain the same humor and charm from the previous games whenever Larry meets his woman in his chase for love. Still, behind the obvious Casanova theme that loudly haunts every single title of the series, this game manages to quietly convey some truth of the loneliness in every human being and the desire of everyone to find the other perfect half so to live happily ever after, even when this desire may just be an illusion in the end.
Before the game starts, you are warned that the game contains adult situations, vulgar language, ethnic humor, sexual innuendo, and pixilated nudity. It then forces you to take a trivia quiz consisting of 5 questions to verify the age you have chosen to represent yourself at the start. Only after you pass the quiz can you then select the "dirty" (as opposed to the "clean") filth level setting to play at the "Totally Raunchiest" level that will unlock all the censored materials in the game.
The gameplay is, dare I say, horrendous, especially for players who are not accustomed to old styled adventure games. My drastic condemnation comes mainly from the fact that there is a lack of any clue in each scene that will delimit what objects are available with which you can interact. Control of the inventory is equally problematic, since access of inventory items depends entirely on typing in the correct commands into the text parser. If you are a novice to this dated style of gameplay, it is not likely that you will advance too far in the game, unless you have enough patience and cleverness to figure out the correct vocabulary needed to complete each of your tasks.
I rate this game to be hard in the level of difficulty, mostly because of the poor planning in the layout of many scenes. Nearly every part of the game you will be stuck trying to figure out where you need to point the cursor to find the exits in each scene. Each time you need to interact with the scene (with commands such as "look" or "open"), you must first move Larry to the correct location and then turn him to the correct direction before typing in the commands, otherwise Larry may not carry out the needed actions even when the commands are correct. You can also die easily in this game, often at the most inopportune of times. The difficulty of the game, therefore, comes not necessarily from the puzzles themselves but from the poorly implemented interface and unforgiving gameplay.
The only praise I have for this game is that, halfway through the story, you will switch from playing as Larry to playing as his love interest Patti. This role reversal gives you another perspective of the story and another view of Larry as a character beyond his superficial Casanova act. The MIDI music is catchy and features that the familiar disco signature tune of the series, though it can get repetitive rather quickly. After you win, the game even breaks the fourth wall and puts Larry and Patti outside their own roles in the game, showing them to be living a happy life together beyond their in-game persona.
The original game package is nicely decorated and comes with a number of interesting feelies, including a faux postcard and a faux magazine (Nontoonyt Tonight) that tells parts of the game's story.
In the end, I just cannot wholeheartedly recommend playing this game, even for nostalgic reasons. Fortunately, Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals turns out not to be the end for Larry's adventure. Fans of the series can thus look forward to a better sequel than this title.