Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2: Gas Pump Girls Meet the Pulsating Inconvenience from Planet X!
for PC (DOS)

Mr Creosote:
Company: Infocom / Activision
Year: 1992
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Apocalypse / Adult
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 19963
Review by Mr Creosote (2012-09-28)

Atom City is not exactly the hub of the universe. Located somewhere in the Nevada desert, it becomes the epicentre of events of galactic importance when one night, a spaceship crashes near its gas station. On board is the friendly alien called Barth whose home world, Planet X, has just been conquered by the evil Leather Goddesses of Phobos. Who, as expected, turned all the inhabitants into sex slaves.

The player can now take over the role of either Barth himself (itself?), gas station owner Zeke or his girlfriend Lydia, daughter of the scientist who has recently spotted Planet X from his observatory. The course of the plot changes slightly depending on this choice; while Zeke and Lydia don't make much of a difference (they have to find out what it is that crashed down first), it is Barth's first task to simply find spare parts to repair his spaceship. Finally, it will be the player's task to travel to Planet X and overthrow the Leather Goddesses' rule.

Unlike the famous predecessor, LGOP2 does not offer various levels of 'naughtiness'. Not that it really matters, since the expliciteness of the suggested sexual scenes can only be considered so by prudish American standards anyway. Zeke's gas station is populated by his employees, exclusively young, female, brain-damaged 'bimbos' who are mostly seen in suggestive poses (bent over the hood of a car…), one or two conversations have an icon showing a screw appearing, but the following text is really nothing to blush about. To be honest, Barth's path is much funnier in this respect as it alludes to the science fiction cliché of tentacled aliens groping humans… but as it turns out (at least in this case), without any bad or even remotely sexual intentions.

Although released under the Infocom label, you should not expect anything close to the experience of an actual game of that company, which had been shut down by Activision in the late 80s already. Although in central moments, significant amounts of text is used for expository plot development, the game is solidly built around a purely graphical (but quality-wise strangely inconsistent) environment. In fact, LGOP2 attempts to break new technical ground by including fully recorded dialogue. This did not become common until the advent of the CD-ROM about two years later. One major remnant of the text adventure era can still be found, though: The environment is shown in first-person-perspective and the protagonist's movements are controlled through discrete steps into the four cardinal compass directions.

So the player is walking around the small city, meeting and talking to people, picking up items and clues and sometimes (rarely, in fact) using them to progress. The puzzles turn out to be a major blow. The game is almost completely a locked door affair: Almost all progress in the plot (and therefore the game) is governed by simply finding a way to get into some previously inaccessible locations. This is hardly imaginative puzzle design. Second, while the first episode (the action set in the city) is understandably short, the game is already almost over when we arrive at Planet X: While any sane player would expect the actual game to really only begin here, the disappointment is all the greater when it then all ends so suddenly.

Similarly, while mildly amusing at times and the 1950s b-movie elements definitely being present in places, the humour is not quite there as far as real laughs go. The small town found in It Came From the Desert, a game even referenced in LGOP2, is much more fleshed out and therefore believable both as far as an impression of actual life and the humorous stabs at the science fiction genre go. The gas station and its (wo)manning gives the distinct impression of a concept demo rather than any sort of final design choice. And Planet X, it can't be said often enough, is devoid of anything at all.

On the whole, LGOP2 is at least somewhat entertaining, but it's really not a game which is worth a regular price. If anything showed Infocom was finally dead and buried forever, this game was it. It also showed that reusing the old Infocom properties, although they still had a considerable following, would need further re-thinking. The much more successful Zork relaunch a year later would show that this could work if done right.

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