Larry Porthole

History


The many faces of Leisure Suit Larry
Larry Laffer - of Leisure Suit Larry
1987 - Present

It's only appropriate that I offer a very small introduction to the Larry series here. It is one of those games that 'changed the world' as far as content and delivery goes and we should thank the visionaries at Sierra for this.

Sometime during 1986, Softporn box art - Click for a larger image Al was finishing up on King's Quest III - the popular fairytale adventure series by Roberta Williams - and together with Ken Williams concluded that the market needed more adult orientated games. I guess looking back most games of the time could haven been labeled a bit twee! Ken suggested to Al that he take an old Applesoft BASIC text-only adventure called Softporn and update it to use Sierra's very successful AGI engine. It must have been a different culture back then... programmer/designer Al easily persuaded Ken to allow some 'much-required' improvements to the concept and so Larry Laffer was born. The rest, as they say, is history!

Al said of Softporn that the puzzles were sound and so they were carried over complete. He does however concede that the action of giving whiskey to the drunk in exchange for a remote control should have been modified. Perfectionist? Nah, just Al! He also turned the whole Softporn concept upside down and set about making fun of the main character - Larry. Consequently, Larry was kitted out with a leisure suit, a great hair do and a wonderful personality!

Being a Jazz performer, Al had no problem writing the perfect tune for Larry. Larry 1 EGA entry screen - Click for a larger image In a short 20 minutes taking inspiration from listening to a broadcast of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" celebrating Irving Berlin's 99th birthday, the unforgettable theme tune to Larry was born. It has subsequently been tweaked and refined but the structure is as it was back then! For the game's visuals, Ken allowed Mark Crowe (of Space Quest fame) to work on Larry 1 for a short (even by standards back then) 4 weeks. Everything you see was done by Mark - nice one! Around three months from start to finish, the first installment of Larry was complete.

As this was the first child 'unfriendly' game so far produced, Al wasn't sure of how it would go down and suggested an external group test the game. Ken agreed and the then-popular Compuserve online system was used to invite beta testers - a first for the company. Two months of testing, many refinements, fixes and modifications later, Larry finally hit the shelves.

Although Larry 1 went on to critical acclaim, it's initial sales were Sales figures for the Leisure Suit Larry series (PC platform English language only) - Click for a larger image extremely poor - only 4000 copies left the store shelves in the space of a month. Al was left considering his future and when a programming slot came up on Police Quest 1 he jumped at it. No-one at Sierra need have worried though... Larry 1 kept selling ... and selling! Maybe the market wasn't quite ready to accept the adult nature of the game but positive word of mouth soon spread. The title even picked up the "Best Adventure/Fantasy Role-Playing Game" award by the Software Publishers Association in 1987. Although the story is largely positive, there was considerable opposition to the game - a bill was put forward banning all adult content from games and some stores even refused to stock the title!

The figures presented are sales estimates for English language copies sold on the PC platform only. Obviously this excludes the many localised versions and platforms such as the MAC and Atari.