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Sierra / Vivendi



High Voltage Studios



M (Mature)



Q4 2004



- Get to see the original Larry Laffer again

- Some funny moments

- If you love mini-games, climb aboard!



- Crosses the line too many times

- Manual is a PDF file

- Mini-games and loading screens for everything

- None of the Larry magic, even with all the references to past games



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Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

Score: 4.0 / 10


Never has a game so made me want to scream – at the world, the sun, and the developers behind Magna Cum Laude.


The defining moment of Magna Cum Laude (MCL) for me was not the scantily clad co-eds, the jiggling pixels or swimming sperm dialogue “tree.”  The defining moment was finding Uncle Larry – that would be, the original Larry – sitting at a table in Lefty’s Too. 


“Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the La Costa Lotta Spa?” he asks.


Geez, Lar, I lived it with you.


It was like a chance meeting with an old friend – not quite sure what to say, some awkwardness, then a sense of sadness that you didn’t keep in touch over the years.


magna cum laude review          magna cum laude review


Though you play as Larry Lovage, nephew to the original Larry, this is a Leisure Suit Larry game in name only and bears no resemblance to past Larry games in any way, shape or form (no matter how many in-jokes there are for Larry fans).


You know things aren’t right when the title screen appears and that familiar tune doesn’t start playing.  If you’re an old-school adventure fan, things go down a steep hill really fast after that as you’re tasked with completing mini-games – mini-games! – to score with the ladies on campus, who run the stereotype gambit.  (Think to Full Throttle when Corley is taking his dying breaths and grabs Ben’s collar with an exasperated “Mini-vans!” whenever someone mentions mini-games.)  On top being completely pervasive, the mini-games aren’t that hard!  (And if you do fail at them a few times in a row, the game actually asks if you’d like next time to be easier.)  Whether it’s tossing flyers, pressing the arrow keys to match “dance” moves, dodging security or simply talking to the girls via the floating sperm dialogue “tree” in Larry’s quest to score a spot on Swingles, a dating show.  It’s all mini-games, all the time.  Hell, you even hunt for hidden tokens!





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- Adventure Game Reviews

- Reviews of Games from Vivendi

But on the subject of dialogue, once it’s initiated a long aquarium appears with a sperm at the left side.  Icons of various colors and nature travel right from left.  It’s your job to make sure the sperm hits the green icons and avoids the reds.  Screw it up enough and the conversation will end badly.  Work the “power” bar to it’s maximum by hitting the green icons and Larry succeeds as the conversation ends so Larry can move to the next mini-game.  Some 


have complained about the repetitiveness of these encounters because some conversations have to be attempted a number of times before success.  I found it to be the exact opposite.  I only got to hear exchanges once or twice before being successful. (I should note that once a conversation or any of the mini-games is completed successfully they can be replayed at any time.)


For most Larry fans, the highlight of a Larry game was always the good-natured but often bawdy humor.  MCL skips the good-natured bawdiness and jumps directly to downright stupid and gross, even offensiveness at times.  There’s no subtle suggestion here – everything is as graphic as the ESRB’s M-rating will allow.  (I won’t get into the nitty gritty here as this is a family site – meaning my parents and wife often read the reviews.)  There are some genuinely funny moments but all too often a dip into offensiveness mars these moments.  And what’s up with the F-word?  Mostly it plays for cheap shock value.


magna cum laude review          magna cum laude review


One of the values Al Lowe, credited by many as the “father” of Larry, was that the move to cursor interaction (with the mouse) from parser interaction (typing everything in) freed up your left hand to do other things.  This is not the case with MCL.  There’s no typing involved but you have to use both hands control Larry: left hand on the keyboard, right hand on the mouse.  Once you get used to it, it doesn’t pose any difficulties but it’s a scheme that feels like a translation of a dual-stick control (like say, for Playstation 2 or Xbox) and not anything that plays to the PCs strengths.


Not helping anything is the fact there’s not printed manual!


Sadly, I didn’t have much fun playing Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude and if any old-school adventure fan is thinking about purchasing MCL I’d urge them to re play the old games because they’re more fun.  Besides, by now the solutions to the puzzles would most likely be forgotten making it a somewhat new experience.


- Omni

(October 24, 2004)


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