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Leather Goddesses of Phobos (Apple II) artwork

Leather Goddesses of Phobos (Apple II) review

"While "Tame" doesn't allow even remotely suggestive language, in "Lewd", anything goes. Sexual encounters are spelled out and dirty language is recognized by the computer. Obviously, that was the only mode I ever played, although, upon further review, the sex scenes aren't any more titillating than those in the average romance novel read by bored housewives looking for any sort of release from day-to-day life with their unemployed husband who just drank himself to sleep in front of the television yet again."

I'd guess that explaining the joy Infocom's text adventures have brought me to someone not familiar with them would be about as difficult as explaining something like the Internet to a neanderthal. After all, the vast majority of these games have no graphics or any of those other aesthetic pleasures. All you'll see is a screen filled with words. There will be nothing but brief paragraphs explaining your current location, as well as any objects you can pick up or manipulate followed by commands such as "GO NORTH", "TAKE WRENCH" or "FUCK GIRL".

Well, I guess that last one was only applicable in one particular game: Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Programmed in 1986 by Steve Meretzky, this was sort of the pure text version of today's hentai-style games that generate such stimulating conversation in such places as THIS VERY SITE!

Back in my youth, I was a crafty little bastard, so I was able to convince my parents that the problem-solving nature of text adventures was "educational", making it simplicity itself to get them to buy me this game. If they only knew the real reason I wanted this floppy disk. Meretzky implemented multiple forms of play in Leather Goddesses. While "Tame" doesn't allow even remotely suggestive language, in "Lewd", anything goes. Sexual encounters are spelled out and dirty language is recognized by the computer. Obviously, that was the only mode I ever played, although, upon further review, the sex scenes aren't any more titillating than those in the average romance novel read by bored housewives looking for any sort of release from day-to-day life with their unemployed husband who just drank himself to sleep in front of the television yet again.

Take away the sex and you still have a pretty fun romp through a number of locations. As someone who grew up pretty close to Upper Sandusky, Ohio, I must say finding out that is the game's starting point was pretty damn cool for me. After slurping down some beers in one of that town's bars, nature calls and you need to relieve the ol' bladder. Your character's gender is determined by which restroom you enter. Don't get too accustomed to these surroundings, though, as moments after hitting the lavatory, you get abducted by aliens and dumped into a prison cell to be used as a guinea pig in the evil Leather Goddesses' plans to take over Earth. Back in the day, I remember thinking it'd be so cool to hit a bar in Upper Sandusky when of drinking age to see if that led to me being captured by aliens. However, as I've aged, I've changed and the concept of chilling in a small town bar listening to the locals hoot and holler while "Why Don't We Get Drunk (and Screw)" plays repeatedly as I fervently pray to be abducted THIS TIME just isn't as awesome as it was when I was 13.

Anyway, it's pretty easy to escape your cell (just open the door) and you quickly find a comrade of your character's gender. This person has the perfect plan to destroy the Goddesses, but the two of you need to collect a number of random objects, so your buddy can create a device that will win the game for you. This leads the two of you to travel to a variety of cool locations like the jungles of Venus (with its gigantic, flesh-hungry flytraps), as well as far less habitable places such as Cleveland.

The game is loaded with both a wacky sense of humor and a million or so ways to die. Not actually owning Leather Goddesses (ie: downloading it) can easily lead to a number of these deaths. Like most Infocom games, the materials included with Leather Goddesses are pretty useful in providing clues for a number of the game's puzzles, as well as making it possible to get through the incredibly frustrating catacomb section of the game. I've heard that some versions of this game make it possible to just type in a code to avoid this area completely. I wish I knew about that option back in the day, as it wasn't fun to type in various commands like "hop" and "clap" every so many moves to prevent repeatedly being killed by a number of critters.

Still, much of the frustration caused by things like this was dispelled by the comedic aspect of the game. One way to dispose of a gigantic venus flytrap is to hiss, causing it to think you're a spray can of weed killer and die of fright. You'll encounter a bizarre take on legendary King Midas, whose touch turned everything to gold. This version's unfortunate ability has resulted in most objects in his kingdom, including his daughter, becoming 45-degree angles. Your sidekick is involved with a running joke that results in him/her repeatedly getting horribly killed, only to unexpectedly pop up with a ludicrous tale of what really happened.

Maybe the sex scenes were a bit underwhelming, but most of Leather Goddesses was quite fun. A certain amount of deductive work must go into figuring out how best to use certain items, such as the "TEE remover" in order to defeat the goddesses. While I wish I hadn't been forced to endure the really tedious catacombs with its many cheap ways to die, most of this game still only leaves me with pleasant memories -- making me want to try out a few more of Infocom's titles again to see if I still like those, as well.

Rating: 8/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (February 25, 2009)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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bloomer posted February 26, 2009:

I enjoyed this review, and it reminded me of the good times in Infocom adventures. But if I'm real with myself, those were minority times for me. I adored the ideas of the Infocom games but I barely got anywhere with any of them. Was I too young? Was it because I lacked the manuals in most cases? Even now, the need to chase and read the manuals irks me some. Though I consider the ultimate badness of manual-reliance to be Sierra games like Police Quest.

In spite of their relative bluntness, I preferred Scott Adams 2-word adventures, 'cos I could get through some of them. The only Infocom game I ever finished for real was Wishbringer - which was rated Easy! But I still only did that in my late teens, I think!
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overdrive posted February 26, 2009:

I know what you mean about the reliance on manuals. At the time, it was a great idea to protect against piracy. For retro gamers like myself, it's a real hindrance. About 10-12 years ago, I bought virtually all of Infocom's games online. It was like $10-15 for a download of them. I was ecstatic......until realizing that there was no scans or anything of the printed material included in the download.....meaning I'd have to search online to find any way to get past the inevitable section in most games where you'd HAVE to refer to the packaged contest to get past something. With some games, it's not that tough......with others, it is.

As for the difficulty, yeah, it can get off the charts. A couple of the ones I've beaten have been mainly due to the very liberal use of "infoclues", since they'd be packaged on the floppy and whenever I was stuck, I could just look up the answer to my problem. I remember being really frustrated with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, just because of how its quirky sense of humor was near game-breaking at points (like the part where you're told there's an exit to port on the spaceship.....only to find the exit was in some other direction and they were just joking about it being to port).

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