[ Retro Scan of the Week ] 1980s Lovers…or Strangers?

February 14th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

Alpine Software Lovers or Strangers Relationship compatibility software for the Apple II - 1982Lovers or Strangers: A relationship compatibility program for the Apple II.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

[ From Personal Computing, November 1982, p.216 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever played a romantic or risque computer game? Tell us about it (anonymously if you have to).

13 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] 1980s Lovers…or Strangers?”

  1. Skywyze Says:

    I played an adult game back in the 90’s called “Latex”. It was basically a first person puzzle game that unlocked snip-its of the adult movie of the same name. It was lackluster at best, as most are. At least the Leisure-Suit Larry games had some humor.

  2. Dementropy Says:

    I remember playing Pornsoft (I believe) back around 1988/89. It was much like a somewhat salacious Infocom text game (think Leather Goddess of Phobos, but without any of the adventure/challenge/intelligence baggage), that started off asking you to describe the physical attributes of your fantasy lover (though it did have a sense of humor, in case you decided to get outrageous and input a 60-inch bust line and an 18-inch waistline). Then it proceeded to do nothing but become a cheering section/narrator as you went from foreplay to afterglow in as little as five lines of typed text. It was silly, and served only as a minor diversion in between bouts of Battle of Britain, and Tongue of the Fat Man (a very un-sexy game, if you’re reading too much into that last title), but I remember it well, as someone who only looked at the ads for the first Leisure Suit Larry game in the Sierra catalogs, and never played anything risque outside of his own imagination and real life adventures.

  3. Donn Says:

    I played most of the Leisure Suit Larry games as a youth (highly inappropriate for my age, I might add), including the really old school text-only one. At least, I remember one of them as text only. I’m sure it lead to some awkward, yet educational, moments for my parents as I asked them about elements I didn’t understand while I played… at the time, to me, it was just another text adventure to solve.

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    That text-only one was called “Softporn Adventure,” Donn. My brother and I played that on the Atari 800 and Leisure Suit Larry (later on) as non-adults. I suspect many kids and teens dug their way into those titles, which were relatively tame by today’s standards.

  5. Donn Says:

    Yup, on the Atari 800, there we go. Interesting. Of course, like so many of us, I never saw the commercial boxes for the games I played, nor even knew the proper titles in many cases, since Dad just brought bootleg disks home from work. He probably didn’t even realize it was on there!

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    Same thing with me, Donn. Bootlegs from my dad’s work! Seems like nobody bought software back then.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    You all remember those English-translated Japanese ‘hentai games’ released in the mid-90’s, like Knights of Xentar, Metal & Lace, True Love and Nocturnal Illusion? I have a history with them, one that continues to this very day. First got into them as a typical hormone addled teenager geek after dabbling with stuff like Coktel Vision’s Geisha and A Night with Troi, and there certainly was a mindblowing difference in content and production values.

    Nocturnal Illusion especially was memorable for its youthful pretentiousness, what with its use of Chopin-like midi music and literary quotes by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Nietzsche. They set the scene for the protagonist’s adventures in a mysterious mansion stuck between the dimensions or something, where he solves the female inhabitants'(including a mermaid, a vampiress, Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Red Riding Hood) problems that were often psychological in nature. For some inexplicable reason, the most effective solution is having sex with them.

    Had several run ins with other games over the years, upping the ante with the likes of Kana ~Imouto~ and Crescendo, which were notable for the fact the sexual elements weren’t the main course anymore, but the story, dramatic and melancholic in both. The fantastical themes and settings of earlier times had given way to the mundane, so Crescendo was about a guy last days in school and his memories of the place and the people he knew. Kana was about the protagonist relationship to his sick little sister.

    Somewhere along the way the games had roughly divided into so called ‘plot with porn’ and ‘porn with plot’ (aka ‘nukige’) -categories. Some games of the former category, like the fantasy battle game Fate/Stay Night, have even gotten the attention of the mainstream game audience, as cleaned up ‘all ages’ -console ports, though.

  8. Cody Says:

    I played a few of the Leisure-Suit Larry games from my tweens to my teens, first LSL1 and LSL3, and then later I found LSL2 in a game shop and greedily snapped it up (it was probably the first game I ever bought), and later LSL5 and LSL6. Later in my 20s I went back and replayed 1-7 all over again, revelling in all the ones I had missed out on.

    I also bought a lot of those pocket sized hint books that covered text with red patterns so it couldn’t be photocopied, and you had to use a card with a celophane red window on it to mask it out and read the hints underneath. That and all the inside jokes in them made them about as much fun as the games themselves! Thankfully they are now archived on the web.

    It’s too bad these days a game guide is bigger and thicker than most books you’d read, and even more dry.

    I’ve been dying to go back and play LSL2 and LSL3 for the past few months now. I dug them out but it’s hard to find time away from my girlfriend; and it would be hard to explain. “Yes, I’m playing this softcore porn game but it’s just because it’s funny and fun reliving the past, it has nothing to do with sex.” Right!

    I’ll always remember the opening of LSL3 where you look through binoculars and see a hand drawn representation of boobs depending on your age how many of the anti-cheat questions you got right! I would have been 10 or 11 at the time, and never seen them before (except maybe on some late night 80s movies about high school students I wasn’t meant to be watching).

    Who could forget that kind of thing? Of course I also remember everything else about the games… specifically trying to win this TV game show in LSL2, or trying to pump up in a gym and gain muscle then later dying of thirst in a jungle in LSL3. Haha.

    It was just fun and funny.

    There was different kind of DOS dating sim game I played in the late 80s early 90s and it had CGA or EGA graphics, but I can’t remember the name or find anything about it. It had limited graphics of pretty hand-drawn girls but was far more (textually) sexually explicit, almost to the point of naughty adult fiction albeit a couple of lines long here and there.

    Ah the good old days.

  9. Cody Says:

    PS: I haven’t been able to find this Lovers or Strangers game anywhere, but there was a short review written here: http://www.digitpress.com/library/newsletters/arcadeexpress/arcade_express_v1n10.pdf

    “Want to know if you’re compatible with that exciting new person whom you just met? Experience is the only way to tell for sure, but you and the apple of your eye can have a good time in the meanwhile with this program created by a pair of psychiatrists. After each half of the couple to be tested enters a name, the computer begins to present a series of questions. Each time one flashes onto the screen, each participant must select one of five multiple choice answers for himself, and guess at the answer the other individual will supply. There are more questions than needed for any single run of the questionnaire, so trying the test a second time will put the players face to face with a partially nwe and randomly selected set of queries. A clutch of graphs and summaries is developed by the computer after the humans complete the question process that rate the compatibility of each half of the couple in a variety of areas.

    This is an exceptionally novel idea, one which may find quite a bit of popularity as an ice-breaker at parties and so forth. Too bad Stanely Crane, who performed the actual game design and programming duties, didn’t fancy things up with some arresting audio-viual effects that would’ve made “Lovers or Strangers” less formal and more fun. Still, not a bad job at all on this change-of-page title. Rating: 7.”

  10. ToAks Says:

    a few games …
    First one has to be Leisure Suit Larry 1. and i recall i spent like weeks to get past the adult test screen (i was 12 or something) hehe.

    anyway here is a small list..

    1. Leisure suit larry games 1,2,3,5,6,7 (and the horrible PS3 one)
    2. Fascination (very cool game actually)
    3. Biing (AGA)
    4. Wet The Sexy Empire

    oh and hehe i remeber when i first played SEX GAMES on the C64, we where kids and it was so hillarious that my friend pee’d his pants due to laughing so hard and we couldnt stop even when his mom came in … haha

  11. ToAks Says:

    Btw… i totally forgot..

    The “love story” in The Darkness (PS3/Xbox360) was quite good and emotional if you pushed the right (action)buttons (lol)

  12. Stanley Crane Says:

    Imagine my surprise to find Lovers or Strangers listed anywhere? I am very surprised & honored in a way.

    This was really a compatibility evaluation type of game, not anything sexy or intended to be. It was a joint venture with myself & my therapists at the time – it was quite serious. (If you like Country music & your partner likes Jazz… on a scale of 1-10, hoe compatible are you?) And then you guessed what your partner would pick & it calculated how well do you know your partner.

    Sort of like what match.com does today, but more than a decade before the internet.

    My ex-wife & I (marriage lasted only a few months), set the record high score, so maybe its all for the better that it went away.

    Thanks for preserving the game for posterity.

  13. Brigitta Olsen Says:

    Funny reading Stanley’s message above, about which he should be really ashamed.
    I wrote that game, along with my colleague Ms T – Trudy Millerstrom.
    I was the ‘sexpert’ who thought up the game after years in More House sex/tantra/commune in the 70s), while Trudy and I wrote every question and (multiple choice answers.
    At the time of the game,I was Publications Manager for Stoneware, selling Stanley’s software. One day I asked him if he would code a game for me. Next thing I know he’s got his therapists (2?) ‘rewriting’ it – a very few words. Then he published it as his own, with T’s and my name as contributors!
    The stupidest thing he did, however, was to sign legal documents giving away more than 100% of the profits to himself, his ‘therapist’, T and me, the marketer, the publicist … etc.
    The game was pulled about a month after it was released. T and I were devastated after hundreds of hours of work on it yet we had some sense of Stanley getting his just reward.
    I still have one of the original floppy disks, along with the working papers from T and me. Unfortunately, at that time, in the very early 80s, it was too common for a woman with a good idea to see it co-opted/stolen, often with no recourse. Especially in technology.
    I just had to set the record straight. Stanley has nothing to be ‘honored’ about. His line above – If you like country etc. – is a bunch of hooey – that’s not how the game worked.
    Each person answered each question for him/herself then for the partner. The computer figured out how often you got your partner’s answer right and only then, whether your answers matched. The questions spanned relationship and sexual issues, titillation and touching, was all about sexual compatibility and nothing to do with music.

    And btw, we wrote this game in 1981 – disk drives for the personal computer had just been invented and floppy disks held a whopping 8K of storage each, after initial years using cassette tapes for storage on Apple and the new PC desktops.

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