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  Preview and
Review by
Steve Cooke
(The White Wizard)
   

 

 
Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Leather Goddesses of Phobos
1986 Infocom
By Steve Meretzky
 
Most text of the present article comes from the preview published in the eighteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: September 11th, 1986) and the review published in the twentieth issue (street date: November 13th, 1986).
 
 

INFOCOM INTRIGUE IN LEATHER LOVERS SHOCK HORROR!
 

l' Whitey had hardly recovered from Brian Moriarty's Trinity hitting the stands, when news of Steve Meretzky's latest creation, The Leather Goddesses of Phobos, arrived at my humble abode. As the title suggests, this is like no other Infocom game, though Steve's humour is obviously at work. It's the first 'adult' game to have come from this stable and, having seen a preview copy, I'm intrigued. Very!


You play the role of an average male or female human (your sex is determined when you go to the toilet at the start of the game -- I kid you not). Inexplicably, you are kidnapped by aliens and taken to Phobos, the largest of the two moons of Mars. There you discover the Leather Goddesses. For some reason, they plan to turn Earth into their latest sexual playground. It is your task to prevent them (though why you should want to is another matter entirely).

Unusually, for Infocom, the game uses three levels of play, though these are not difficulty levels as such. They are Tame, Suggestive and Lewd. Each level uses naughtier (more atmospheric?) text than the last. Some of the language becomes more explicit as well as more detailed descriptive passages. Even then there are limits. One scene is merely described as using a lot of lubricant, some rubber hosing and a yak. It is up to you to imagine the rest . . .

Before long, you find yourself in more traditional settings, wandering the ruins and canals of Mars in true John Carter fashion. The sexual overtones are less obtrusive here. Coming across the throne of King Mitre (otherwise known as Midas) to discover that rather than change things to gold, he turned them to forty-five degree angles for some fetish satisfaction, proves that both Meretzky's humour and the spicy nature of the game remain deeply imbedded in the program. In fact, an interplanetary tour takes place, littered with heated distractions.

When you discover that the goddesses want you for experimentation, even you agree that sexual freedom can go too far and so, accompanied by your sidekick, you set about trying to make an anti-leather goddesses machine to save Earth from the imminent invasion. Other characters in the game have their sex decided by your own choice at the beginning of the game.

Packaging is always an important way of adding atmosphere in an Infocom game, and some original ideas have been used including a scratch 'n' sniff card and a 3D colour comic showing off the 'finer points' of the goddesses. The first in Infocom's new comedy series. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos is sure to make its mark. It does wonders for your whiskers, especially at 24.95!

MEANWHILE

Interested adventurers may not necessarily be able to play Trinity that easily. The game, which involves time travel as you try to change the course of history and prevent the Third World War, is the second in Infocom's Interactive Fiction Plus range, designed for sixteen bit micros and ported downwards where possible. As a result, only owners of a Commodore 128, disk drive (any model) and 80-column monitor will be able to run the program. Ah well, it looked nice.

STILL IN WITH INFOCOM

Following, the take-over of Infocom by Activision, the latter organisation is now responsible for the marketing of their games. This means that everybody should now be able to get hold of their favourite titles via their nearest Activision dealer. No doubt my mailbag will increase in size as a result of the Infocom availability . . .

 

LEATHER GODDESSES OF PHOBOS
Infocom/Activision, 24.95 disk only
 

well-known magazine publisher recently appeared via holographic transmission in the White Wizard's cave to ask his opinion about Leather Goddesses of Phobos, the latest release from the almost Divine Infocom company of Hitch-Hikers, Sorcerer and Zork fame.


What did I think, he timidly enquired, of this game? Had I actually discovered any . . . RUDE . . . bits?? What had I done with the Female Gorilla? Finally, and most significantly, he asked whether I thought the game was any good.

That's significant because people don't often wonder whether Infocom games are any good or not. They just wonder whether to give them 95% or 96% and try to decide which superlative adjective to use -- 'Brilliant' 'Astounding' or perhaps 'Scrotnig' if they read 2000AD. The fact is that there is rarely any doubt about an Infocom title, but in this case doubt emerged so the Wiz rushed out, bought a copy and loaded it up. The privileged reader of this Zarjaz Mag will now hear the Wise One's opinion . . .

The game is Brilliant, Astounding, and Scrotnig.

Here's what it's all about. You -- and you can be male or female in this game, thank goodness, so for once the Wiz can address the whole population of the UK and not just the men, as is unfortunately the usual case with UK adventures -- have been captured by the Leather Goddesses of Phobos who invite you to take part in their scientific research program.

If you've ever seen pictures of those unfortunate monkeys in labs with horrible looking tubes coming out of their ears, then you might get some idea of what the Leather Ones have got in store for you, except that the tubes come out of certain other places that we shall not mention and the game, mercifully, only hints at. Obviously, therefore, the aim of the game is to manfully (or womanfully) resist the temptation to join in the fun and escape, saving the rest of mankind in the process.

The game has you and your companion (a fellow escaped prisoner) zipping about the universe, by means of some very convenient black holes (which are just painted on the ground), collecting objects and trying not to get killed or otherwise inconvenienced.

The ease with which one can move from planet to planet in this fashion certainly makes for plenty of variety in the landscape, but in fact the Wiz found this the weakest aspect of the game. I like adventures that stick to one geographical location and then go into it in great detail, thereby helping to generate a compulsive and vivid 'sense of being-there'. Not that the LGOP locations aren't vividly described -- I just found being on Mars one moment and a billion light-years away the next rather unsettling. I'm sure that one of the strengths of games like Colossal Cave and the Price of Magik is their concentration on one overall geographical framework with many parts, rather than many frameworks with fewer locations in each one.

Of course the parser on LGOP is up to Infocom standard with all the trimmings, including OOPS and complex input parsing. No-one has yet matched this parsing system -- I'm afraid it's still light-years ahead of our own attempts in the UK, with the possible exception of The Pawn. You won't have much trouble making yourself understood in this game, that's for sure.

I think what the Wizard found most impressive about Leather Goddesses was that the author has not allowed the temptation of being simply rude or risque to weaken the structure of the game itself. The puzzles are every bit as good as one would expect and there's enough logical gameplay here to keep you busy enough to justify the usual high Infocom price tag.

 

.
The Plot . . .

The combination of an experienced and highly skilled game designer like Steve Meretsky plus a rather risque scenario makes for a game with a number of unusual twists, but at heart LGOP is just another excellent adventure un the traditional Infocom mode.

You must locate eight different objects in the game and these are:
1. A common household blender
2. Six feet of rubber hose
3. A pair of cotton balls
4. An 82 degree angle
5. A headlight from any 1933 Ford
6. A mouse
7. Any size photo of Douglas Fairbanks
8. A copy of the Cleveland Phone book

Locating these objects isn't that difficult, but like in the Scott Adams games, actually getting them into your possession is extremely tricky. And then, perhaps they aren't going to do you any good after all! Would YOU believe a moronic keep-fit maniac who handed you a matchbox with those items scribbled on it, announcing that with that equipments he/she could save the world??
.

 

.
The Sex . . .

Okay, so some of the passages in this game are just a tiny bit naughty. But that really is as far as it goes and there's nothing here that would shock my grandmother. Whether that's a relief or a disappointment to you depends on what sort of person you are.

The three levels of play, Tame, Suggestive and Lewd have two main effects on the game. The first is in what the program will print out on the screen. TAME gets you briefer descriptions and nothing that could possibly be construed as rude (unless you've got a dirty mind). SUGGESTIVE is practically the same as LEWD, but hesitates a bit over the more intimate details.

LEWD gives you the full treatment (which isn't, in fact that much) and often offers rather lengthier descriptions. For this reason, even if you're a Vicar, I'd recommend playing in Lewd mode all the time.

However, the second main effect on gameplay that changing levels has is to increase the vocabulary accepted by the parser. In TAME mode certain words will simply not be understood. In LEWD they almost certainly will be, though whether entering these (unspecified, in this family magazine) commands will get you much excitement, is open to debate.

Hand-in-hand with this last point goes the fact that LEWD will also change the INTERPRETATION of certain words. For example, if you EAT the apple in TAME mode, no problem. However, if you EAT the apple in LEWD mode, I would advise you check that it is over sixteen first.

The blurb at the beginning of the game suggests that the program may raise some reaction from the Moral Majority. Frankly, I think that that is highly unlikely. Quite apart from the fact that I can't see what's wrong with a bit of healthy sex in a game anyway. As it is, everything in this game's healthy and there isn't any real sexual activity to disturb the under-aged. Buy with confidence, parents.
.

 

.
The Humour . . .

There is a lot of humour in this game -- inevitably, since Mr Meretzky, author of Sorcerer and Hitch-Hikers, is a man game for a laugh. I'm glad to say that much of the humour does NOT rely on dirty jokes or innuendos (although some of these, in LEWD mode are very funny). For example, what other game would give you this variety of responses:

It's a good likeness of a pussy, but is it art?
Yes
That was just a rhetorical question.
No
You sound rather negative.
Who am I?
Good question.
Where is the toilet?
Beats me.
Lie down.
Why bother?
Remove bikini
But the brass bikini is so becoming!

Or this really absurd response:

Tie the hose to the switch
You've tied the rubber hose! In the third quarter, with 40 seconds on the clock, the score is rubber hose 17, player 17!!! But seriously, folks, you can't tie the rubber hose.

And if you tire of the responses, you'll still find that the continual tongue-in-cheek humour of the location descriptions keeps you on the ball. One of the Wiz's favourite bits is when:
'... You feel uneasy as the Mad Scientist locks the door behind you and dissolves the key in a vat of acid.'

I'll say you do!!
.

 
Atmosphere 89%
Interaction 94%
Lasting Interest 93%

Value for Money

89%

Overall

91%
 

 

The Gold Edition is also worthy of your attention.
It features an online hintbook.

If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (4 Dec 2004)
There were no screenshots in the original review.

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