Crapshoot: Like Leisure Suit Larry but worse, it's Les Manley: Search For THE KING


From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about bringing random difficult to understand video games again into the sunshine. Right here he meets Recreational Go well with Larry’s even-more-punchable cousin.

It could be unfair—a little bit unfair—to mention that journey video games of the 80s and 90s tended to be ‘just a little difficult to understand’ with their puzzles within the identify of promoting trace books and premium-rate pointers traces, however no longer that the corporations concerned had been shy about turning down the additional income such issues supplied. Quite a lot of instances you would be with politeness reminded that it’s worthwhile to make the most of them on every occasion you died, or would get a card proper within the field with the entire main points you wanted.

After all, you would not ever dream of the usage of the sort of factor… or a minimum of, no longer admitting to it when dismissing how glaring it was once to check out and put on a canine in order that it will be magically reworked into a couple of Hush Domestic dogs to sneak previous a guard. (Sure, that is an actual puzzle, from Simon the Sorcerer). Hints had been for folks. Pathetic other folks. Susceptible other folks. Disasters, in journey video games, as in lifestyles. Oh sure.

Which brings us to Les Manley. You did not wish to be psychic to win this sadistic little recreation, however by means of god, it will have helped. It fought grimy, and if you happen to complained it gave you the finger. Let’s play, lets?

Les Manley is a nerd’s nerd, running for a failing TV station in New York, with the only real task of manually rewinding video tapes. He is virtually as in love together with his boss’ assistant, busty blonde Stella Hart, because the artist drawing her, and that’s the reason the entire persona he is actually given for the entire recreation. His socially awkward loss of love and good fortune is definitely intended to be relatable to the type of individuals who play dangerous journey video games, and for that… neatly… OK Accolade, you win this spherical.

This recreation has precisely 3 moments of generosity, and the primary two are proper right here. Beneficiant second the primary: It does a minimum of inform you what your function is. No less than, in part. The TV station is working a large festival, with 1,000,000 greenbacks of exact cash going to somebody who can in finding THE KING. It is all the time capitalised, and about as delicate some way of claiming Elvis as “Elvis”. 

Regardless of having heard his bosses overtly describe the competition as good as a result of there is no approach somebody can if truth be told win, Les feels fortunate, and makes a decision to move search for Elvis on his lunch ruin. That is certainly the purpose of the sport.

The second one beneficiant second is that the outlet rooms are if truth be told defined within the guide, each getting you began, and both introducing you to the psychic global during which the designers hope you are living or stating that sure, you actually are going to need that trace e-book (offered one after the other, please permit 28 days for supply). 

Seek For THE KING makes use of a parser-based keep watch over machine—in different phrases, you sort what you wish to have Les to do somewhat than clicking on icons—and boy does it love to make use of that to difficult to understand issues. Until you sort precisely the proper phrase, you will not growth. 

This implies you’ll be able to’t merely sweep the mouse and click on on the whole thing to seek out hotspots, an previous journey gaming trick normally referred to as “pixelbitching”, and are subsequently about as a lot on the dressmaker’s mercy as though he’d handcuffed you bare to a mattress and produced a actually large feather to tickle you to demise. Most effective with out as many laughs, clearly.

Les’ place of job units the tone. The very first thing you spot is Stella thru a gap within the wall, however if you happen to sort Glance, you are simply instructed “You could possibly see Stella, however Les cannot!”, in an instant putting in place the psychic/recreation interplay that can quickly come to outline many of the puzzles. 

Looking out sparsely, you’ll be able to in finding Les’ lunch in his table drawer (a jar of peanut butter and a thermos flask), an empty submitting cupboard, a radio that tells you that any person, someplace in New York claims to have observed THE KING, and a calendar that tells you that Les simply completed a two-year probationary length on the station. By some means, that is the sport’s approach of providing you with a clue that you want to move down the hall to the boss’ place of job, call for a lift in order that Stella brings within the bureaucracy, after which swipe a suite of keys you don’t have any explicit reason why to suppose you want from his table whilst he is distracted by means of her shapely low-resolution curves.

Why do you do that? For the reason that guide tells you to. Do you do each silly factor a little bit booklet tells you to do? Then you’ll be able to be executed with this recreation in an hour, perhaps. If no longer, excellent good fortune. End it with out dishonest however together with your sanity intact and you’re a true adventurer certainly.

Doing each silly factor the hint-line tells you could also be applicable.

New York seems to be beautiful quiet. There is the TV station, a space whose occupant cryptically tells you to depart if you are no longer “who I am looking ahead to”, a bus station, and a fairground, none of which precisely scream Elv—sorry—THE KING. 

The fairground simply seems like probably the most a laugh, however sadly there is a catch: Les has no cash, and being an journey recreation personality, no likelihood in anyway that this can be solved by means of simply going to an ATM. All his worldly assets are in his pocket, and peanut butter almost certainly may not minimize it. 

Oddly even though, the circus appears to be in accordance with the distinction machine, as Les can simply stroll all the way through the entrance gate and if truth be told to each unmarried to be had show off and not using a price ticket. In reality attempt to engage with any even though, and you are instructed you could possibly see extra with a price ticket, implying that he is wandering round together with his eyes close till he is paid his voluntary dues to the god of Capitalism. What a man.

The strategy to this one is a great advent to the psychic powers you’ll be able to want later, requiring the sort of low midichlorian rely that chances are you’ll if truth be told stumble onto it unintentionally. Hidden out of sight at the left of the map are a load of caravans, and certainly one of them belongs to the circus proprietor, Bob. Your advent to Bob takes time to say the trace e-book. This isn’t a Just right Check in an previous journey recreation.

Thankfully, he is keen to allow you to into the circus, however provided that you shovel some elephant shit for him in alternate for a price ticket. Or so you are instructed. In reality, you should not have to do any guide labour in any respect. Select up the shovel and in an instant drop it, and it counts as executed. If you do not realise this, the sport will fortunately allow you to sit down there, staring at Les ferry shovelfuls of elephant poo for hours and hours and hours with out bothering to inform you that your task is completed and you’ll be able to return to running at the reasonably much less pooey tale for just a little.

With a price ticket, you’ll be able to in spite of everything discover the circus correctly. It is a miserable position. Its to be had acts are the Giant Most sensible, the place Les manages to stroll proper into the center of the display and get eaten by means of lions, The Global’s Most powerful Guy being too depressed to if truth be told carry out, The Global’s Smallest Guy being too depressed to accomplish, and Madame Zarmooska, the gypsy fortune teller providing “Ball Studying and Palm Jobs”, as a result of that is it appears Humorous. Asking her in regards to the long run will get you the next implausible lend a hand:

“You’ll be able to be occurring a protracted adventure. I see a seek. I see a King. I see a violent finishing. Peace and calmness. Nevertheless it ain’t over until it is over. The remainder is as much as you, Les.”

As pointless as this each sounds and is, it is if truth be told beautiful correct, in a lot the similar approach that “you’ll meet a tall, darkish stranger” is correct—technically, however no longer helpfully. Leaving her at the back of, and and not using a actual pointer in opposition to the rest you are if truth be told intended to do, it is time to transfer on. No longer by means of heading again to the bus station, after all. No, that may be foolish. No, to achieve the following a part of the sport, you…

Neatly, you do that. Clearly.

That, proper there, is the 3rd and ultimate beneficiant act that the sport ever does. There are 3 portions of this recreation, set in New York, Las Vegas, and in spite of everything The Kingdom—THE KING’s space and environment—and it’ll inform you if you happen to arrive with out the whole thing you want. After all, it compensates in alternative ways.

Las Vegas seems to be a unmarried lodge, which claims to have a on line casino as neatly… however does not. Possibly that may were one Recreational Go well with Larry scam too many. As an alternative of a laugh Blackjack mini-games and horny adventures with bar-flies, Les will get to seek advice from… a dry cleaners, and the aspect of a pool, and except for a couple of lodge rooms upstairs, that is about it. 

As with New York, there are a couple of mentions of The King, however not anything that will provide you with any actual trace as to what you are meant to be doing, what puzzles wish to be solved, or the place to move subsequent. There virtually is, on the pool, the place a celeb known as Mr. Fabulous is putting out with a horny girl known as Lyla Libido, however while you in spite of everything do away with him with out his goon killing you by means of ripping off your head and spitting down your neck, the one factor you get from this can be a dangerous piece of pin-up artwork and the risk to scouse borrow a couple of sun shades. Useful? No longer at the moment!

Heading out from the on line casino takes you into the wilderness, the place you promptly die of dehydration. Technically, it is not demise, however you’ll be able to by no means break out until you’ve some water to damage out of the maze, so you’ll be able to wish to restart the sport. 

That is the place Seek For THE KING actually begins appearing its true colors. You suppose you are secure since you discovered the thermos flask again in New York? No. It was once empty! Until you troubled to test that, and therefore fill it up at a water fountain within the TV studio hall, you are now simply as useless as if you happen to’d by no means discovered it in any respect. 

What makes this even crueller is that there is completely not anything essential within the wilderness. Not anything. The one causes it exists are to do a “Viva Misplaced Manley” funny story, and to shamelessly shoe-horn in a random pin-up image of Stella. To save lots of you questioning:

Two out of 3 places down, and nonetheless and not using a clue as to what the hell you are intended to be doing, it is time to head for The Kingdom. After all, you do not know this, and there is simplest the slightest trace that you want to hitch-hike your approach there hidden within the on line casino external’s description while you sort ‘Glance’, however let’s simply think your magic antennae clued you into that and were given you the place you want to be.

The Kingdom is tiny, consisting of precisely two places: outdoor THE KING’s space, and a bar on the town. This may occasionally grow to be the penultimate display in all of the recreation, so cleverly, it is only now that it makes a decision to inform you what you will have to were doing: gathering items of a THE KING dress to go into a Glance-Alike contest. After all! It is so glaring! Who wishes trace books or the rest?

Restarting the sport, since there is no approach of going again to previous places, it is time to check out once more, this time with a Plan. Or a minimum of, a reasonably higher concept of what the sport needs. Take lunch. Fill flask. Ask for lift. Scouse borrow keys. This time, use the keys to release a door in other places within the construction. Take reporter ID as a result of it is there and subsequently almost certainly essential. Cross to circus. Shovel poo. Prevent shovelling poo. Recreation on!

That is the place the sport begins enjoying grimy. All these things? This was once only a warm-up for the true puzzles. There are journey video games with worse puzzles, however no longer many which can be so obnoxiously evil about them, or move out in their strategy to ruin the holy covenant between participant and dressmaker. 

For starters, let’s take a look at what you are intended to do within the recreation. You are intended to win a look-alike contest, which comes to dressing as a personality you will have by no means observed. Now, sure, clearly everybody has some concept of what Elvis seems like, however would you essentially know that you do not merely desire a swimsuit and sun shades, however a separate shawl and a cape to move along side them? You are instructed if you happen to leave out one thing, however no longer exactly what .

The shades are simple to pay money for. In reality, the shades are some of the higher puzzles within the recreation. Attempt to communicate to Mr. Fabulous and he tells you that he is looking ahead to a choice from his agent. Have the entrance table web page him, and you are taken care of. It is a excellent use of to be had assets. It is smart. Hurrah.

The cape is… no longer relatively so excellent. You in finding it on the circus in New York by means of wandering into the Giant Most sensible, which leaves you if truth be told status within the ring, surrounded by means of lions. Fortuitously, you’ll be able to distract those predatory carnivores hungry for flesh by means of throwing them popcorn, as a result of that is how lions paintings. From there, you unintentionally kill a worried high-rise artist by means of giving him rosin for his sweaty hands, stand by means of as he falls to his demise in entrance of your face, choose up his discarded cape, and saunter off out of the circus with the type of sociopathic omit that makes such a lot of journey recreation characters likeable other folks.

The headscarf is your first correct psychic check. You want not to simplest know that it’s a must to get into an nameless construction in New York, however that a stolen reporter’s ID gets you thru. Impressively, the sport simplest tells you that that is what the lady at the back of the door needs to look after you will have proven it to her. Inside of, the headscarf is in a protecting cupboard, and a cage falls down and kills you if you happen to attempt to take it. After all, at this level of the sport, you don’t have any reason why to understand you want it, nor any ethical reason why to check out and scouse borrow it, however that does not subject. The lady who owns it’s relatively glad to turn it to you if you happen to magically challenge your creativeness to the designers’ mind sufficiently to in particular ask for a soda. In a different way, she simply insists she must get to understand you higher. Why do you want the soda there? As a result of differently you would not be capable to spill it on her prize ownership and scouse borrow from her washing line, you thieving little bastard. Wesley Crusher would kick Les Manley within the balls for crimes in opposition to geekdom.

And talking of crimes, Les by no means if truth be told wears the headscarf anyway. Even on the finish of the sport, when he has to wipe just a little of sweat off himself, he makes use of the cape. Merciless and needless? Puzzle gold!

The swimsuit itself is simple to seek out – it is on the dry-cleaners in Las Vegas. From there, it is a piffling subject to understand that each one you want to do to get it’s to steer the arena’s smallest guy to allow you to tie floss round his waist and decrease him in to a plug-hole in a lodge rest room to retrieve the many years previous price ticket from beneath a jacuzzi. Who wishes correct hints for that? What sort of fool would not in an instant leap to these conclusions? It is going with out pronouncing that you simply convince him to come back along side you by means of stealing a safety guard’s pornographic dream and handing it to him as a pick-me-up, then actively mailing him to Las Vegas—a spot you don’t have any in-game reason why to understand you are going—to steer clear of him burning up on re-entry.

I imply: pfffft. This is not Blended Up Mom Goose or one thing! Why, if it wasn’t for scenes like this, there’d be no problem in any respect. When journey builders accumulate, infrequently they discuss insult swordfighting, or the Babel Fish puzzle. But if the candle is long past, and simplest the toughest core-remain, assured, communicate will transfer to this puzzle, during which it’s a must to shut a door you’ll be able to’t see, turn a Do No longer Disturb signal you don’t have any reason why to suppose is there, all to make the maid head right into a obviously vacant room, simply to can scouse borrow the keys from her cart that allow you to into any other room, which simply occurs to have one thing you want in it. Once you resolve this puzzle, it’s your sworn accountability to achieve for a lottery price ticket and change into a millionaire. If you do not, you simplest have your self in charge on your loss of a houseboat constructed of forged platinum.

(In a last screw-you for this puzzle, it’s a must to in particular retrieve the dental floss from the drain, differently you will be unable to make use of it to fix a guitar in a while—an act that the sport itself admits is foolish because it no longer simplest would not paintings, Les does not know the way to play anyway.)

With the Elv—sorry—THE KING dress items all assembled, it is again to the tip of the sport. Converting in a phonebooth, Les bravely heads out on level, nonetheless and not using a precise reason why to take action, after all, and promptly stinks up the joint like a flatulent skunk. As an alternative of strolling away the winner, he is passed the booby prize, which disappointingly for everybody looking ahead to this to if truth be told change into Recreational Go well with Larry, does no longer if truth be told contain boobies. 

As an alternative, it is unfastened, totally unsupervised get right of entry to to THE KING’s complete space, which might be at hand if THE KING was once if truth be told there, however no such good fortune. As an alternative, it is simply an excuse to absolute best Les’ dress, even though the competition is over and no time passes between now and when he re-enters it. 

The method comes to stealing a guitar and mike, fattening up by means of… creating a unmarried sandwich (and if you happen to should not have the peanut butter, it is relatively actually proper again to the beginning of the sport for you!) and maximum bizarrely of all, visiting THE KING’s bed room for the reason that recreation calls for you slide down a fireman’s pole into his kitchen as a substitute of merely opening the unlocked door.

Anyway, now a hulking fatty with a pair extra props, you in spite of everything get to succeed in your lifelong dream of being an unconvincing Elvis impersonator in a unfastened skill contest. , Larry’s quest for romance does not appear so dangerous, does it? This time then again, issues move higher. In reality, Les is so convincing that the target audience if truth be told errors him for THE KING returned, and trample him to demise proper on level.

Wait, what? You die? You installed all that paintings, and that is your hero’s praise?

No, after all no longer. You simply fell for the dressmaker’s cruellest funny story, and now face the general check of your psychic powers. It is too overdue now even though. You need to get started the entire recreation once more, accumulate the 4 dress items once more, and undergo the entire similar mean-spirited traps designed to hobble you for forgetting one thing. This time even though, it’s a must to resolve… drum roll, please, this second calls for it…


Sure, to live on being trampled to demise in a skill display on the different finish of the rustic whilst dressed on the earth’s perfect Elvis swimsuit, it’s a must to move to… the fortune telling gypsy on the circus. Again in New York. And attack her, by means of both touching or kissing her. That isn’t it even though, by no means! While you do that, she vanishes with the message “Too dangerous I am just a dream”, leaving you unfastened to puppy the crammed lizard on her table. Why do you wish to have to puppy the crammed lizard in a gypsy caravan on the different finish of the rustic? As a result of while you do, out of its little crammed mouth comes… a resurrection card.

A. Resurrection. Card.


This does completely not anything for the entire recreation, till that very closing display while you get trampled to demise. With out it, you simply die. With it, you ascend to Heaven, the place THE KING awaits and allows you to take a photograph. That is nonetheless on your hand while you go back to Earth, letting Les win the competition, take over the TV station in alternate for the million greenbacks they do not if truth be told have, and switch it right into a successful trade. 

A successful trade that’s not remotely related within the sequel, Les Manley: Misplaced In LA, which is set as stress-free as coughing up useless small children in a crowded mall, however significantly more straightforward to complete with out psychic powers.

By the way, here is a bonus. After I first performed Les Manley, it wasn’t with those stunning graphics. I had a CGA graphics card, which technically stands for Color Graphics Adaptor, however actually intended ‘Crap Graphics All the time’. It presented artists a grand general of 4 colors to play with, with the one actual selection being whether or not the ones 4 colors incorporated cyan and magenta or inexperienced and brown. 

This intended that almost all video games ended up having a look like moss on a stone, or a seedy iciness wonderland. Here is a % for nostalgia functions, or simply to be happy you were not into video games once they gave the look of this.

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