Like many other current games, Magna Cum Laude has a free exploration mode where Larry can walk about campus and interact with students and personnel on the premises. In this mode, Larry can search for hidden money or tokens, strike poses to impress girls, and take photos which can later be sold to collectors. At several locations on campus a minigame can be entered, usually by "activating" an object or a person (starting a conversation). The player must win most of the minigames in order to advance. Minigames started by a conversation usually increase the affection of one of the girls; other minigames can provide money or increase "confidence".
The game has an simplified casual 'adventure' context-sensitive interface similar to the one used in Grim Fandango, Monkey Island IV, or Simon the Sorcerer III. The adventure aspects are .limited to 'look' (eye), talk (chat bubble) and 'interact (hand)'. There is no direct item use puzzles in the game. Although some items are collectable, and automatically used to make mini-games easier. Or in the case clothes and accessories change people's mood towards Larry, and allow them to interact more directly with each other. Most items are picked up by simply walking over them. The context sensitive icons can also switch to 'buy' or 'game' modes, and these activate ways of shopping for booze or items in the game, or minigames.
There are several different minigames, and variations on them:
- Chat: the player must steer a sperm icon through a course of "hot spots." Green hot spots result in a good conversation, whereas red spots result in inappropriate and humiliating (but amusing) topics.
- Dancing: a rhythm game similar to Dance Dance Revolution where the player must press the right buttons on time
- Trampoline: a variation of dancing, where Larry is bouncing on a trampoline
- Serve: a variation of the classic arcade game Tapper, where food or other items must be passed to each row before the queue reaches Larry
- Quarters: a drinking game where coins must be tipped in a glass to get the other player drunk
Other minigames included are panty raids and evasion, where Larry must escape other people by running along a set course, while picking up a set number of items. There is also mini games where you must recruit/cheer on other students by picking up an item from one character, and quickly using it front of others. Typically in order to "win" a girl, multiple of these games must be played in succession.
The game originally received an "Adults Only" rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board and was subsequently edited to receive a more commercial "Mature" rating in the USA and Canada. In Europe, the game was released unedited on all three systems and featured a disclaimer on the packaging highlighting that it was "uncut". The unedited version was eventually released in North America under the title Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude—Uncut and Uncensored!. The major difference between the two North American releases is that the uncut and uncensored version contains full frontal nudity and sex scenes, although the latter contains very little and is mostly implied. Both versions were refused classification by the OFLC and effectively banned in Australia.
The main character, Larry Lovage, is a student at Walnut Log Community College whose purpose is to get on a dating TV show called "Swingles". Uma Yasmine, the hostess of the show won't allow Larry in the show until he will prove his seductive wits by obtaining "tokens of affection". Sixteen college girls will conveniently be at his disposal. His aging uncle, Larry Laffer, from the original games, provides brief advice and appears at a local bar. Larry also must outsmart a sorority house and a fraternity house, known as Dio, where they recite lines that are actually modified lyrics of Black Sabbath songs.
A brief subplot involves the college's arena football team going against a rival team known as the Maiming Maggots. However, the college's team name is a running gag because it is obscured by objects, only revealing it as Flaming Fa-. The final scene shows the team name is actually the Flaming Fantasticks after the Swingles van leaves the school. The joke is compounded by the fact that the team mascot is a flaming bound bundle of sticks, aka a 'faggot'.
In 2003, a surprising announcement was made by Sierra Entertainment, now a division of Vivendi Universal Games: the Leisure Suit Larry franchise was being revived with an eighth game, called Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. This is the first game in which Al Lowe is not involved in any way, as this game was created by game developer High Voltage Software, Inc. On his website, Lowe talks about how he was in talk with Sierra about working with them on the game, but they stopped contacting him, as they went into downsizing. Later he received a letter from a writer on the game, where it is revealed that the game had long since been written by the time he entered discussions with Sierra.
The new Larry game does not star Larry Laffer, but a new character: his nephew, Larry Lovage. There are numerous homages to the earlier Larry games: Larry Laffer is the tutorial guide and giver of questionable advice for Larry Lovage; Larry's computer is playing Leisure Suit Larry 4: The Missing Floppies ("the best game of its time"); and secret tokens featuring the likeness of the Where's Dildo? character from Larry 7 can be collected. The loose storyline of the game is that Larry wants to appear on a dating TV show called Swingles, but he must prove his worth before he is allowed on air.
The game was/is sometimes marketed as LSL8 (the follow up to the series following the cancellation of Lust in Space). Though some of the designers admit it could be seen as a kind of spin-off title in some ways, as they moved the focus off of Larry Laffer. Al Lowe who had no part in the development of the game does not consider it LSL8 (largely due to the fact that mini games and cruder humor drifts away from what the earlier LSL games were). Al Lowe hopes to make his version of LSL8 in the future, if the Reloaded remakes are successful.
In late 2005, Target department stores (through online vendor Amazon.com) began accepting pre-orders for a sequel to Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude entitled Leisure Suit Larry 2: Island Tale. This new game was being developed for personal computer, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony PlayStation Portable systems. However, it was canceled midway through the production process.
On January 17, 2007, Sierra Entertainment announced that Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust would be released in 2008 as the sequel to Magna Cum Laude. However, it was delayed until March 27, 2009, when it was released.
Reviews of the game were mixed, with most praising the game for its humor but panning it for its gameplay (Al Lowe denounced Magna Cum Laude vigorously, emphasizing on his website that he took no part of its creation after being promised so).
Behind the scenesEdit
The game was registered in the United States Copyright Office under the name "Leisure Suit Larry : magna cum laude : Leisure Suit Larry 8."
It however could also be considered Larry 9, assuming 8 'went missing' like 4.