“At one point we sold more hint books than copies of the game.”
July 30, 2018 7:59 PM   Subscribe

 
I think I was in middle school when we visited a friend of the family who was an older single man. He had a computer in his basement, and of course the first Leisure Suit game. As mentioned in the article, there was a sort of copy protection that asked you questions "only an adult would know". Of course, since the computer was downstairs and the parents were upstairs, I would simply go upstairs, ask these fairly innocuous questions, then run back downstairs before they started to wonder where I was getting the questions from.

I did not know about the bypass hotkey: that would have made life easier!

In any event, the game itself was fairly disappointing.

Fun(?) trivia: the ladies on the cover of the earlier "Softporn Adventure" (shown in the article) are actual Sierra employees, including Roberta Williams. Kind of hard to imagine that happening now.

The waiter was, you guessed it, a waiter.
posted by selfnoise at 8:21 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I played the game this game is based on! It sucked! But I disassembled it and studied it and learned how to write better adventure games myself. Thanks, guy who wrote the underlying engine for "Softporn Adventure."
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:34 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I remember when I was about, I don't know, 8 or 10 or so, a friend's dad had this game. We wanted to see it so we loaded it, and he deferred to me on the trivia questions because even then I was an inexplicable sponge for pop-culture knowledge.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:35 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Almost Every Death in Leisure Suit Larry 1

(4:10 may be amusing to some Metafilterians)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:40 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Oh man. I played this game with my aunt.

(To be fair to her, in hindsight, I seriously doubt she had the faintest idea what the game was actually about.)

I think she'd gotten it free as part of a bundle -- she doesn't strike me as the type to buy it, although maybe her husband? Anyway, I definitely clearly remember the pop-culture gatekeeping questions, and I have a strong memory of a large screen featuring the finest of nineties pixelated art of a young woman sporting some impressive decolletage. Whether anything after that is lost to the mists of time or my auntie figured out what was going on and stopped the game, I can no longer remember.

Okay, also I remember it as a fairly clunky point-and-click, but that's about it.
posted by kalimac at 8:49 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Of course, since the computer was downstairs and the parents were upstairs, I would simply go upstairs, ask these fairly innocuous questions, then run back downstairs before they started to wonder where I was getting the questions from.

I did the exact same thing! Except my parents were downstairs.
posted by gurple at 9:20 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I love LSL. One of my favorite lines of dialogue is from the first game: "Mmm, hurts so good! Pull it out a little deeper!" There's something about it that's just so wrong that it still cracks me up to this day. In both of my marriages, I'd say this to my partner when I wanted to squick them out. Now that I think about it, that may have been a factor leading to both of my divorces...
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:51 PM on July 30 [18 favorites]


I played this in high school. It had a certain forbidden fruit appeal, the same je ne sais quoi of porn found in the woods. On one level it was pretty tame as there really wasn't anything pornographic in it, on another level it reinforced a lot of seemingly innocuous yet very negative stereotypes about how men and women relate to each other. I didn't have a copy but a friend did. I never got into the Police Quest series but Sierra games overall were less punishingly opaque than Infocom games, which were (are) legitimately hard. So smutty theme aside, it was a fun game in that you could actually play it without constantly getting stuck.
posted by GuyZero at 9:51 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Fun(?) trivia: the ladies on the cover of the earlier "Softporn Adventure" (shown in the article) are actual Sierra employees, including Roberta Williams. Kind of hard to imagine that happening now.

If they were doing coke and fucking in the photo then it might have been an Atari staff photo.
posted by GuyZero at 9:53 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


the same je ne sais quoi of porn found in the woods

Did anyone ever actually find porn in the woods? It gets talked about so often, but it seems like a weird place to find porn. (or leave porn, for that matter.)
posted by jcreigh at 10:22 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


> jcreigh:
"the same je ne sais quoi of porn found in the woods

Did anyone ever actually find porn in the woods? It gets talked about so often, but it seems like a weird place to find porn. (or leave porn, for that matter.)"


Me. Also, on a beach in Malibu (or rather in the bamboo thicket BY the beach).
posted by Samizdata at 10:29 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]




You used to be able to buy porn in a lot of places, like convenience stores and truck stops, suggesting a lot of people consumed it. But it was way more taboo to have it.

People probably did take it in the woods to discreetly enjoy away from their families. They probably threw it out of their cars a lot too, realizing they were picking up a friend or a date or spouse and didn't want it laying around, so it could have often blown into a thicket or wooded area.
posted by smelendez at 11:45 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I must have been in middle school when I played it. Not only was I not an adult, I was also not an American, making the copy protection quiz twice the challenge. So I just brute forced it, answering everything I didn't have a clue about (like all the questions about Pee Wee Herman or Spiro Agnew) at random and memorizing the correct answers.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:38 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Who knew about the alt+x workaround?! Not me. Sierra was my favorite publisher. They released some pretty goofy titles on a regular basis. Remember Rise of The Dragon? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:48 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


on another level it reinforced a lot of seemingly innocuous yet very negative stereotypes about how men and women relate to each other.

I always figured it was the opposite, it was so terrible that no boy could be inspired by it. Same as a lot of 70s and 80s porn actually, more horrifying than inspirational.
posted by fshgrl at 12:53 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


I think I played all of these up to about number six or seven and a few of the later ones start having moderately interesting stories and the narrator becomes a pretty funny character. They skipped number four and put several narrative references in five (and six?) to the amazing adventures he had in LSL 4 without explaining that it didn't really exist which I thought was hilarious at the time.
posted by mattamatic at 1:42 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


LSL4, amusingly, also turned up in Space Quest 4, where you could install it on the computer at the villain's massive secret base, thus corrupting it with a virus and bringing it down. The FP was the first time I'd heard that Leisure Suit Larry was a virus vector, which improves that particular joke.

Even as a kid, I got the message that Larry was kind of a creep. Honestly as the games go on and the women become more obviously objectified it becomes less fun.
posted by Merus at 3:18 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


I played the game this game is based on! It sucked!
Octavius Kitten made a two part "re-enactment" of the game that displays how awful it is, and the difference it made having someone behind it who actually was aware and made fun of how ridiculous the whole story and premise is.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:58 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


On a related note, here's a history-slash-review of Infocom's Leather Goddesses of Phobos.
posted by cheshyre at 4:49 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


LSL1 is notable in one extra respect, in that a Kickstarter-funded remake came out in 2013. I instantly backed it in an overwhelming rush of childhood/teenage nostalgia for the series, but it's also one of my foremost instances of Kickstarter's remorse. When I actually received the final product a year or so later (the physical box extra goodies tier, no less), I felt ridiculous, and I couldn't really say why.

The game's been sitting in a cabinet in my office for five years and I have had no desire to install it, and likely never will, especially after reading Leigh Alexander's remarkable takedown of not just the remake itself, but of the culture that produced it.
posted by jklaiho at 4:53 AM on July 31


This has triggered a memory for me. The manager of the office I worked in around the time, as well as bringing in Lounge Suit Larry also brought in a copy of MacPlaymate. A female employee saw us playing them and was disgusted and objected to it, nothing came of it. It was also the biggest outbreak of viruses we ever saw in our non-internet connected bank of Macs. Shameful times indeed.
posted by unliteral at 4:54 AM on July 31


I can remember playing the game a few times in the late 1980s, a pirated copy installed on a university computer by an older friend of mine. It was talked up as being super raunchy, but even to me as a teenager the game seemed pretty pathetic.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:52 AM on July 31


“My next response is always, ‘Did you pay for it?’ Mostly they say, ‘I paid for some of the later ones.’”

I did actually pay for one of the later ones. LSL6, I think ("Shape Up Or Slip Out"). Actually my mom paid for it. Also the hint book. I'm reasonably sure she didn't know what she was buying.

I have a cousin who's three years older and who always had a computer and stacks and stacks of pirated games. We'd go visit for a few weeks in the summer, and that's where I discovered Larry (and Leather Goddesses of Phobos, and a pile of non-pornographic adventure games). I was probably 8 or 9 when I first played Larry, and none of it made any sense to me (what's a "lubber?").

I ultimately decided that the Sierra-style games weren't fun (as described in Leigh Alexander's piece for Gamasutra, linked above, their trick for extending play time was to make death frustratingly abundant), but Larry definitely sent me off down the graphical-adventure rabbit hole.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:06 AM on July 31


Did anyone ever actually find porn in the woods? It gets talked about so often, but it seems like a weird place to find porn. (or leave porn, for that matter.)
In the woods next to the cemetery. In the stormwater runoff channel. On the side of the road when my Impala tossed a couple rocker arms. By the boxful at a yard sale the next block over.

Yes, there was porn in the woods.
posted by notsnot at 7:37 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


I have fond memories of playing LSL 3, mostly because I've always loved big, mostly empty buildings (thanks to All State at the Concord Resort, RIP) and the soundtrack as played through the then state-of-the-art Roland MT-32. All of those single-player adventure titles have a pleasant sort of solitude to them.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:52 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


on the matter of porn in the woods

further first-hand experiences of porn in the woods - this is probably a top 10 or 20 AskMe thread
posted by GuyZero at 8:54 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Yes, there was porn in the woods.

Or in attics. Either left by construction crews or left behind and found before the realator had secured all of the windows.

Or, just, you know, in fucking attics...
posted by Cyrano at 10:55 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Kudos for not turning oral history into a double entendre.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:57 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


> Merus:
"LSL4, amusingly, also turned up in Space Quest 4, where you could install it on the computer at the villain's massive secret base, thus corrupting it with a virus and bringing it down. The FP was the first time I'd heard that Leisure Suit Larry was a virus vector, which improves that particular joke.

Even as a kid, I got the message that Larry was kind of a creep. Honestly as the games go on and the women become more obviously objectified it becomes less fun."


Oh, Space Quest 4, the Sierra game I solved in one sitting. With ZERO internet.
posted by Samizdata at 1:21 PM on July 31


Cyrano: "Or, just, you know, in fucking attics..."

Well, obviously there is porn in *fucking* attics.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:46 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


on the matter of porn in the woods

I have read
the porn
that was in
the woods

and which
you were probably
saving
for privacy

forgive me
it was so nostalgic
so tame
and so hairy
posted by solotoro at 3:40 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Are we doing mefi memes now?

ALL THESE MAGAZINES ARE YOURS

EXCEPT OUI

ATTEMPT NO FAPPING THERE
posted by GuyZero at 5:00 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


I may, at one point many decades ago, have actually left porn in the woods.
posted by lhauser at 7:26 PM on July 31


I'm glad I live in an age where people merely make porn in the woods.
posted by delfin at 8:19 PM on July 31


> lmfsilva:
"I played the game this game is based on! It sucked!
Octavius Kitten made a two part "re-enactment" of the game that displays how awful it is, and the difference it made having someone behind it who actually was aware and made fun of how ridiculous the whole story and premise is."


That was great fun, so cheers! Also, did anyone else hack their game?
posted by Samizdata at 8:23 PM on July 31


> solotoro:
"on the matter of porn in the woods

I have read
the porn
that was in
the woods

and which
you were probably
saving
for privacy

forgive me
it was so nostalgic
so tame
and so hairy"


> GuyZero:
"Are we doing mefi memes now?

ALL THESE MAGAZINES ARE YOURS

EXCEPT OUI

ATTEMPT NO FAPPING THERE"


Cheers, you two rapscallions. An IRL LOL was had. And appreciated, so good on you for that!
posted by Samizdata at 8:26 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Porn in the 80s/90s was best viewed on the scrambled Spice channel. Was that a nipple?! Audio was usually clear as a bell. Cinemax free weekend was also a reliable source of softcore.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:41 PM on July 31


I never played Larry, but Leather Goddesses was in the (mostly) complete Infocom collection I stumbled upon on CD as a kid in the 90s, and was more charming than not (at least at the time).
posted by atoxyl at 10:28 PM on July 31


My dad gave me a pirated copy of LSL when I was a teenager in the late 80s. It really was quite tame.
posted by mubba at 8:59 AM on August 1


The pimp seems vaguely interested, but not enough to leave his post by the stairs.
posted by Bob Regular at 10:19 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


One summer (summer of '87 to be exact), I found several copies of Hustler in the woods and in a municipal viaduct in Dothan, Alabama. I was 12 years old. It was hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock that summer and I insisted on wearing these blue cotton BMX gloves wherever I went because I thought they made me look cool. They didn't. They just got stinkier and and stinkier. My childhood was a Samuel Beckett play.
posted by Bob Regular at 10:33 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


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