THE BUZZ: The latest company to jump on the Kickstarter bandwagon is Replay Games, home of the Leisure Suit Larry franchise.
Replay came to notice last year with the announcement that it intended to relaunch the Larry franchise with the complete revamp of the series’ first game, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. The Larry series has endured for 25 years, and sports fans all over the world. Unfortunately, attempts to revitalize the series in 2004 and 2007 failed for two big reasons: Developers retired the original Larry and put a younger nephew in his place, and, more significantly, attempted to make Larry games without the involvement of series creator Al Lowe, the heart behind the leisure suit.
So, when Replay announced Larry’s return last October, this time with the full involvement and support of Lowe, fans rejoiced. Sales of leisure suits jumped several hundredths of a percent and angels wept. Well, one Angel wept. She was a stripper we told about the game, apparently making her relive some unfortunate memories from the mid ’70s involving polyester. To her we say, you still look good at 57, keep dancing baby!
But we digress.
It seems gamers were more excited about the return of Larry Laffer than venture capitalists, and Replay has had some trouble securing funding for the project. Instead of treating the series like the well loved, respected humor games they are, the companies approached looked at it like it was some sort of video game porn. According to Replay founder Paul Trowe, “We believe in our little “lovable loser” and anybody that’s ever played Leisure Suit Larry knows it’s more about the humor. What jerks.”
The lack of interest is particularly surprising given how far some of today’s entertainment goes. Movies like the “Hangover” and TV shows like “2 Broke Girls” feature overt sexuality in the name of humor and no one in the mainstream compares them to porn, but it seems games are still being held to a different standard.
Therefore, Replay has turned to Kickstarter to fund its project. After showing a couple of tremendous recent successes, it seems like this might be the way to go.
Tim Schaffer and Double Fine games went looking for $400,000 to fund a new adventure game and ended up with more than $3.6 million, and inXile’s Wasteland 2 Kickstarter is already double the $900,000 the company was seeking, and there’s still two weeks to go before the opportunity closes.
Replay is hoping to garner $500,000 for the Larry remake. This amount would take care of updating the game for PC, in English with full voices. Any money earned above and beyond the initial $500,000 would go first toward adding additional language support (they would like to present the game in Spanish, French, Italian and German) and then porting the game over to other formats, most notably XBLA and PSN.
While all sponsorships will be accepted, there are a few high-end spots available with some excellent, unique rewards.
A $10,000 pledge will get you a lunch with Al Lowe, and $25,000 gets you a full weekend of debauchery with him in Las Vegas.
And if you have $50,000 to pledge, you will receive an in-game honor that really blew us away.
Along with the funding, Replay is hoping that a successful Kickstarter will show the money mogels not to judge the creative merits of a game so quickly. And while they describe putting the funding into the hands of fans as “a little scary,” they are confident that those who love Larry and Lowe won’t let them down.
EGM’s TAKE: This perfectly embodies what we love about Kickstarter, it gives companies a chance to prove the pencil pushers wrong. Any investment banker looking at the Leisure Suit Larry project should have taken the time to do a little research, and should have been smart enough to figure out that it’s just good, R-rated fun. True, the 2004 update, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude was a bit racier, but that was a game from another company and didn’t involve Lowe. Even then, a slightly censored M-rated version was allowed to publish on PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
We are hoping that this project doubles or triples the initial goal of $500,000 and proves that there’s interest in funny, mature (or imature) games. So if you want to see Larry return in all his polyester glory, go and pledge $5, $10 or $50,000. We’ve known Lowe for years and we trust him to re-make a game worth the trouble.