Written by Aperama

I truly can't believe that they roped Boris Vallejo in!

Les Manley 2: Lost in LA. I can feel the shuddering from behind your screen as you read that we're about to play this. Why? Because the first one most likely drove The Trickster into an adventure game coma. Thankfully, I am something of an old hand at terrible games, so I feel more than confident that I'll be able to muddle my way through it (I played it once several years ago and don't think I needed a walkthrough, unlike Les Manley 1 where I was incapable of escaping the initial few screens due to my unwillingness to shovel dung.) There's one noted difference between the two games – in spite of the fact that it's a very similar bunch of developers who came back to wrack the brains and emotions of prospective players one more time: they're now on a point and click interface! Essentially, this means that in the absolute worst case it becomes a pixel hunting exercise, right? So you guys don't need to worry..

Even if the manual's first page devotes approx. ¼ of its paper to the 'hint line ad'

For those who, like many, have managed to completely wipe Les Manley: Search for the King out of their minds, it's important to realise that this is a direct sequel even if it takes place in a different town to the (three or four) that Les Manley was thrown by a strongman, hitchhiked and got lost in the desert through. Am I trying to tell you all to go back and read Trickster's pain? Well, I'm not going to go that far, but it's definitely worth noting that you might need a passing knowledge of the obvious Larry Laffer ripoff. Indeed, reading through Trickster's work makes me feel as though I should get into telling you all about the people who created this fine example of computer game – nay, art. If you read his, though, you've just about read what mine would be – the only noteworthy difference is that they used less 'true' artists for this game in lieu of the motion capture approach that was popularised by Access Software around about this time (and took off everywhere else including Sierra – even though the Larry games never got this treatment, there's some obvious analogies back to Sierra in terms of the photographed bits being used to get the effect of it being a game about 'real people' a la Police Quest or even Jones in the Fast Lane.)

… And even if the game box came with an additional ad for the hint line

Probably the most interesting thing I found (aside from the ability to send in your warranty card along with $6.95USD for a 26”x38” poster of the box art) in looking up the game was that it was possible to get a short 'making of' booklet of the game. There's some really interesting information in here from the technical side.. oh, who am I kidding, it's an ad. They're talking up Les Manley 1 and how 'popular' it was, then explaining how they've gone out of their way to get 'real people' and how the 'professional actors and models were painstakingly auditioned and cast for their parts'. One paragraph later they talk about how they found some of their actors in 'Playboy, or have held such titles as Miss Legs Hawaii, Miss Body Beautiful and Miss Maui Sun'. Clearly, they were worried about the technical acting ability of their actors. Oh, and it then says that 'Johnny Orason', the unfortunate face of Mr. Manley, was actually a UPS delivery person that one of the developers met in a bar. Apparently, this took three to four months. So what they're essentially saying is, they hired a bunch of models, found a random guy off the street who looked like their title actor and decided that'd do it.

And then they.. then they said.. ahah.. AHAHAHAHAH

The game itself can't be as bad as it has set itself up to be, almost assuredly – even if the work they put into the manual just feels like a bit of a subpar effort. It begins with what I know from my vague recollections of the game as a plot synopsis – people are getting kidnapped in Tinseltown. Oh no! In Hollywood, no less! Several 'big stars' are disappearing without a trace of struggle or any indication as to where they may have gone. The police aren't interested, of course, because they think it's just a big PR stunt. Sure! The usual 'how to run this game in DOS' bits are strewn throughout from there along with ads that look awfully like they were made with clipart or the like – they're just not 'good'. The cursor is, of course, more fiddly than a Sierra affair, using the context sensitive '?' to let you know if something can be interacted with, where you right click to get a drag-down bar of what can be used. Serviceable, even if not particularly 'easy on the eyes' per se. Interestingly, it points out that in some scenes the game will use a 'first person' point of view, taking away certain cursor commands – I'm guessing this is just their fancy way of saying 'dialogue screens'.

This just feels cheap to me. (They also have some ads for real Accolade games.)

On the plus side? Code wheel! I've always loved these things.

Really, this isn't a game I can drone on too much about here – I'm fairly sure I've said all there is to be said. I'm hoping that the vague recollections I have of the game are at least a touch tinged with fiction – but I fear greatly that they're largely correct. At least there's one thing – I'm finally getting my official comeuppance..

The most distressing thing about this cover, in the dead bottom left:
 they trademarked all of the names. Just in case they needed them for a sequel..

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