Saturday Crapshoot: Lula 3D
Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. Today, prepare to have sex ruined forever by an erotic adventure that's as much fun as discovering your childhood teddy bear has chlamydia.
Lula 3D features a warning label warning "Intense erotic scenes may lead to CHOKING, SWEATING, and RAPID HEART BEAT." It wishes. It's a game whose box proudly promises that "Bouncing Boobs Techology" lies within, clearly relying on its target audience not being in a position to call bullshit at the leaden, poorly animated mammaries awaiting their disappointed perversion. From start to finish, the only positive thing you can possibly say about Lula 3D is that at least it has the courage of its grotty convictions, earning its 18 rating with sex scenes and gratuitous nudity from the installation program on. But no, that's not why we're looking at it today. Oh, no. We're here for the one thing it doesn't promise - the most drugged-up, logic-defying road trip ever slopped on DVD.
The Lula series has been rolling on for years, in assorted tedious formats that aren't really worth knowing about, but what the hell. There was Lula: The Sexy Empire, which was a strategy game, a space thing called Wet Attack, a porny Tamagotchi thing called Lula: Virtual Babe, and a pornographic pinball game, which I like to think marks the point that the developers got as desperate as the players. I haven't played any of them. They may be the best games ever, but clearly: they are not the best games ever. Take a copy of Lula 3D, put it next to Deus Ex, and either they'd be repelled like a couple of magnets, or cause some kind of Earth-shattering antimatter explosion. And here's the thing: Lula 3D is the series' magnum opus - an epic adventure game that was three freaking years in development.
Well, you can't hope to make a game this eye-gougingly bad overnight, right?
As the game starts, Lula 3D is dancing around a pole in a seedy nightclub, doing a striptease routine I believe is known as the Cheap Animation. You may have seen it before. It's when a character strips, in this case around a pole, magically losing clothes as the camera glances away. The notable thing about the intro isn't the nudity though, but the effect Lula 3D's stripping has on her pet dog, Dusty. When her discarded bra lands on his head, he practically drowns in his own drool, while the sight of her pants coming off sends him careening away to wish he'd been neutered as a pup. The result sums up Lula 3D pretty well - failed attempts to be sexy, unstaged by a mutt humping a fat man's leg.
UPDATE: Choking level: 0. Sweat Level: Normal. Rapid Heart Beat: No.
None of this has anything to do with the game, of course. No, that starts at Lula 3D's house, which also doubles as her personal porn empire, complete with penis shaped pool, shower block with ensuite lesbians, and other worrying glimpses into the designers' psyches. Lula 3D moves around it like a truck, showing off the fact that she has roughly a million more polygons than the rest of the cast put together, along with voice acting inversely proportional in scale to her secondary sexual characteristics. Very flat, is what I'm getting at, and not helped by the often baffling script. "Hi Verena," she greets one wandering naked zombie lady, apropos of nothing. "In this beautiful weather, the spinach grows great, too!" Seriously, what?
You quickly find out why you're here - sins committed in a previous life. Also, three porn star triplets have been abducted from Lula 3D's mansion, and she decides to go find them. Amusingly, there's an option to 'just leave it to the police' and skip playing the whole game. Technically, it's a bad ending, but it's much, much quicker than playing through the rest, so overall, it wins. Mostly, the adventuring is traditional enough. You steer Lula 3D around, trying not to get sea-sick at the constant undulation of her hips, picking up items that she stuffs into her bra for safe-keeping, supposedly being turned on her sexy adventures, but really just wincing at the sight of hands passing through flesh and the cast of zombie nudists scattered across her American road-trip. Strangest of these are the 'F**ing Couples', who are literally that - naked people stone-facedly rutting away in random locations around America. Creepy.
It takes about three picoseconds to find a clue to where the Triplets are, mostly because whoever abducted them took care to leave one of those special matchbooks that hotels and bars like to make in case any detectives should ever need to pursue their dodgier clients. Most of this chapter is instead spent in the ancient art of backtracking, from having to cross the whole map before Lula 3D remembers that 'keys' are quite handy when 'trying to get into your car', to actually getting those keys. To do this, you have to speak to Brian the producer, who tells you to go and ask the actors. Verena hasn't seen them, the bathing naked zombie girl by the pool tells you to go check with 'our two on-staff shaggers', who send you to go see 'the lesbians... yes... yes... in the shower', who tell you they gave the keys to Brian, who finally admits that he had them all along. It's the first chapter of the game, and already the puzzles are more shamelessly padded out than Lula 3D's increasingly overworked bra.
Leaving Beverly Hills behind, Lula 3D drives the seven or so hours to San Francisco in her bright pink Chevy, with her pet dog Dusty in the passenger seat. The car is called the Porno Wagon. Its license plate is LULA69. Never let it be said this game doesn't keep it classy.
More or less nothing of interest happens in San Francisco. Lula 3D hangs out with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator standing on an air grate outside a strip-club, is blocked from going in because the only women permitted inside are employees, and more or less just waddles around swinging her hips until she finds a way in to continue her search for the missing triplets. Inside, not much more interesting happens, unless you count the oddness - like the way that every table has a bottle of chilli sauce on it for some reason, or that you knock out a senator in bondage by smacking him lightly on the bottom - so let's ignore all that rubbish and instead pass the time with this tribute to quality assurance at its finest...
UPDATE: Choking level: -20. Sweat Level: Dry. Rapid Heart Beat: Flatline.
Somehow - what with characters breaking out into German during key story moments and the game offering no reason to give even the tiniest crap anyway - Lula 3D's adventures in the strip/sex club give her a few clues, and send her on her way to Las Vegas with mobsters in hot pursuit. Google pegs this at about a 10 hours drive, so it's not surprising that she decides to stop off on the way... at an abandoned service station. As soon as she gets out of her car, she realises that she can't leave yet, because she left the keys in the nearby diner, which is closed. If that makes any sense, phone a neurologist.
The only person hanging around is a girl who the interface opts to describe as 'Bitch', with the interaction options 'Talk to the bitch' and 'Look at the bitch'. Ah, Lula 3D, Duke Nukem Forever wishes it had your class. It's especially bad when it turns out she and Lula 3D actually know each other, and the Bitch, or 'Paris' as she's immediately named, starts chatting about their previous adventures. The only other people around are a mobster, also on his way to Las Vegas, a sleazy motel owner, and a garage attendant heartbroken from his wife leaving him. Lula 3D orders a coffee and offers him a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, if by shoulder you mean giant naked silicone breasts, and by crying on you mean running away from. As he flees, he drops a knife, which she uses slash the mobster's tires and prevent him chasing her. This doesn't go so well though, landing her in a knife fight to the death.
Well, kind-of. To be more exact here, she's in a knife fight - he brought a gun. Pretty sure there's an old saying about that, but it's not important here, mostly because the bullets seem to bounce right off her chest instead of doing any real damage. Still, victorious, she wobbles off to see what's next.
This is where Lula 3D gets strange. Stranger. Whatever. Walking back to her car, the diner is now open. Going in to get the keys that she couldn't possibly have dropped there, she finds herself in the middle of an armed robbery - but by another sexy girl, so That's Okay. Not only does Lula 3D not try to stop her getting away, she decides she's hot enough to offer a lift - an epic getaway that lasts all of three seconds before the police show up, and suddenly you find yourself... wait for it...
...locked in a gunfight with them. No misunderstanding, no comedy twist. Gina just throws Lula 3D a piece and she starts indiscriminately murdering cops without a second thought. In case that's not stupid enough, the fight takes place surrounded by nuclear crates from a crashed Space Shuttle. Still not bad enough? The Game Over screen's continue options are labelled 'Ja' and 'Nein'. Nggh.
How is it to play? It's like drinking from your grandfather's colostomy bag. Think Time Crisis, ducking in and out of cover, except the enemies take a million hits, and every time you take one, your aim becomes steadily worse and the picture blurrier. The only thing stopping this being the single worst arcade sequence I have ever played in an adventure game... is that the champion is coming up later on.
UPDATE: Choking level: On Own Rage. Sweat Level: High. Rapid Heart Beat: YES.
UPDATE II: Still no sign of 'Bouncing Boobs Technology', mind.
Dropping off Gina with a kiss, Lula 3D heads into Las Vegas to continue her search for whatever the hell it is she's looking for. Oh, yes, the missing triplets. She finds the address of a relation, an old lady called Ms. Schrieber, who turns out to be the only person living in a fictional version of Vegas who doesn't live on the Strip. Instead, Lula 3D ends up in a crappy part of town, and while she soon tracks down Ms. Schrieber, it turns out the old lady is deaf to the sound of her doorbell.
Classy as ever, Lula 3D wishes she'd brought some rotten eggs to attract her attention. Instead, she finds a trashcan full of rotten tomatoes, squishing them into her cleavage like everything else, before hurrying back for another FPS mini-game. Several tomatoes at Ms. Schreiber's window catches her attention by... smashing it. Luckily, the old lady isn't particularly bothered at having a slutty porn star randomly smash her stuff with rotten vegetables, and throws the key down.
This is where things almost get sweet. Lula 3D starts thinking it actually has a story, and looks as proud of it as a baby next to its first full potty. Ms. Schreiber lets on that she's deaf due to mobsters firing pistols next to her head to intimidate her into giving up the location of her husband. To talk, you need to find her hearing aid. She suggests it's in the trash. It's actually in the fridge. Whatever. Lula 3D heads upstairs and digs it out of her bra, and Ms. Schreiber puts it in her ear without so much as blinking.
Lula 3D explains that the Triplets have been kidnapped, and Ms. Schreiber exclaims that she knew something like this would happen one day. Why? Because they're involved in... a conspiracy! Lula 3D explains that she hasn't called the police because she figured she'd be a better investigator, and Ms. Schrieber somehow manages to avoid kicking her out of the nearest window. Instead, she promises to tell a... very... long... story. It turns out that Ms. Schreiber's husband stole a set of incredibly expensive Kama Sutra figurines from a previous employer, which had already been stolen by someone else, only she refused to sell them and risk getting into trouble. Instead, she opted to get a job as a stripper. ("That's completely understandable," Lula 3D nods). The stress of this crushed her husband while she got older and buried under plastic surgery, and he started beating her. Oh, what a light, fun story.
"On her seventh birthday, he gave (the triplets) three dolls," Ms. Schreiber continues, adding that her husband kept taking trips to places like Mt. Rushmore, before the dolls suddenly disappeared. Shortly afterwards, their old boss and the original owner of the dolls got shot and...
Look, basically, this game's now going to be a very, very stupid treasure hunt. It starts when Lula 3D picks up a picture of Mt. Rushmore, which she describes as being Mt. Rushmore, then hands to Ms. Schreiber asking "Where was this picture taken?" Face-palm. There's a secret in it that she needs help from a local photo store to uncover, but it's shut. To call the owner, you need the phone number, which means solving a complicated maths problem that will test every cell of gray matter and...
Only joking! There is a complicated maths problem, but the solution is just to keep badgering the person who gives it to you. This would almost be funny, if not for the fact that you can't actually make the call until you've done something utterly unrelated with another picture. Fun! Still, this leads you to your big clue - a very blurry smear on the picture that Lula 3D magically determines is Ms. Schreiber's husband hiding one of the missing dolls in one of the big heads. Returning with the news, she's immediately jumped by a newly arrived mobster - not in that way - before being randomly saved by Gina. Pausing only to send Ms. Schreiber somewhere safer, it's off to Mt. Rushmore to... what are we doing again?
Lula 3D's version of Mount Rushmore is much less cheery than Sam and Max Hit The Road's. It's rainy, miserable, practically deserted apart from Lula 3D, Gina, and a random rutting couple, and and the first thing you see is a giant stone arse. The puzzles here are mostly far too stupid to even mention, starting with taking a previously unmentioned dog-tag off your pet dog and using it as money, and ending with making a catapult to fire said dog at the monument in a hand-made catapult so that it can retrieve a doll stuffed up Jefferson's nose. Well, quite. This game requires insane precision at a target you can't see properly, and yes, the dog explodes into jam every time you miss. Luckily, you get as many tries as you need. Unfortunately, you need a lot of them. Not to mention patience. By the time you've finished, you've blasted the nose clean off, but Dusty miraculously comes back from the dead to bring you the first of the Triplets' missing dolls, plus a clue leading to the next one. Hurrah, and stuff.
Next up is a movie studio shoot. Nothing happens there. At all. With the exception of the world's most laughable polygon puppet-sex scene ever, which still warrants Lula 3D's only use so far of a CENSORED bar. After that though, and with the second doll in hand, Lula 3D is finally called by one of the missing Triplets, who managed to escape from the gangsters. They arrange to meet up in the town of Wet Rock, but before they can head off... the police show up to arrest them for cop-killing, armed robbery, vandalism and everything else they've done over the course of the game. Crikey!
See if you can guess how Lula 3D and Gina solve that problem.
Hint: It includes a cut-away to '10 Minutes Later'.
Extra Hint: If you reenacted it with Pokemon, you would only need Squirtle.
At a sleazy motel, not far away, Lula 3D meets up with Chrissy the Triplet to discuss battle plans. Chrissy explains that she's been trapped in a basement in New Orleans for days, being constantly questioned about the missing dolls 'from the grave'. Which weren't from the grave. However, the Triplets had no idea about them, so couldn't help. She explains that all the baddies so far were contract robbers, who stashed the goods in the Triplets' father's employer's collections, where he found them and...
...oh, who the hell cares? Next stop is a Beauty Farm, where the final figurine awaits, after a night of gawky polygonal lesbian sex. Like all the sex scenes in the game, it's about as interesting and objectively erotic as filing a tax return. Not even a sexy tax return. If Gina brought a copy of the evening paper to read during it while Lula 3D did some knitting, it could hardly be less awkward.
The Beauty Farm turns out to be where technology goes to die, from the motion sensor that only works if someone else stands over to the side of the building, to the receptionist idly staring at a PC showing the Windows Blue Screen Of Death. Not a lot really happens here beyond that, since you're only tracking down the third missing doll via a little theft and a quick spot of random bikini-snapping. Lula 3D can also go skinny dipping in the swimming pool if you choose, with nobody pointing out that doing so with knee-high boots and stockings on is officially doing it Wrong. I'm just saying, is all...
Finding the third doll in a locker, Lula 3D puts the clues together and works out that the mystery of the dolls is... worthless! The message she gets from combining the papers inside them turns out to be 'SEXISFUN', which is an odd message for a loving father to give his infant daughters. Also, what happened to the missing figurines the gangsters are chasing after? All is soon revealed however, and not just because it's been at least seventeen seconds since Lula 3D last took her pants off.
On the second floor of the Beauty Farm, Lula 3D wanders into the Operations Room for no particularly great reason to find a doctor hard at work. This turns out to be Lula 3D's cameraman, and the mastermind of the whole Triplet plot, mid-way through giving a plastic surgeon a taste of the knife for no apparent reason. After standing around waving his arms for a while because nobody bothered altering the length of the animation for the English version of his lines, he reveals that he actually let Chrissy escape in the hope that she'd find Lula 3D and friends, who'd find the loot for them.
"Sounds like the perfect crime," he announces, apparently not having paid attention to exactly how they went about this, or the fact that they haven't actually tracked it down yet. Two more mobsters promptly show up with guns, but instead of actually using them, simply lie Lula 3D down on a bed and reach for... a bottle of chloroform to sedate her and make her helpless in the face of their sick wills.
You know what that means? Yes! It means it's finally time!
Welcome to... The Stupidest Bit Of Any Game Ever!
With no explanation at all, Lula 3D goes from lying on a table surrounded by her mortal enemies to a psychedelic, drugged-up New Orleans where the sky is full of faces and breasts, giant naked women walk the streets, and she has to have knife and gun battles with gangsters and monsters while avoiding hitting cardboard cut-outs of her friends. What's going on? The game doesn't say. Did the baddies just drop her there? Why did they give her weapons? What do they want? Do they think she's going to stagger to the treasure? Was the treasure in the dolls all along? Is this some masterplan to... er... I can't even think of anything it could be. What in the pluperfect hell is going on here?
UPDATE: Choking level: Spluttering. Sweat Level: Soaked. Rapid Heart Beat: OVER 9000!!!
You have to do five shooter levels in a row. They don't really get harder, just more and more annoying. Your gun often refuses to fire, you can't hit anyone unless they're officially in the position where they're allowed to be hit, you only get one shot per attempt, and you spend most of your time staring at the back of a crate until the point in the crossfire where you're allowed to pop out and fire back. As before, every hit you take makes your aim worse and your view pulsate, and every map throws in more cardboard cut-out obstacles. By the last one, where you just randomly run across the baddies on their ship in the middle of the bayou, the game's so sure that everyone's given up by this point that it doesn't even bother translating the final enemies' original German combat barks into English. Ja! Lula 3D ist sehr scheiße!
"I could use a banana right now," Lula 3D finally decides. "Not why you're thinking. To take care of the gangsters, of course." Well, quite. She takes on the gangster leaders, who are the most annoying of all due to being camoflaged and packing machine-guns. As they hit the dirt, she finally realises that she's been drugged, and that it'd probably be a good idea to get the hell out of New Orleans.
Yes. That's it. That's literally all the explanation you get.
Victorious, Lula 3D returns home in triumph before she has to start fighting the rest of the city to decide who gets to keep the nickname 'The Big Easy', and throws a sexy party for her army of naked zombie porn stars. Gina expresses some concern that the two of them might be in a bit of trouble, what with all the incredibly public cop-killing and rest-stop armed robberies they've been up to and all, but Lula 3D laughs that off on the grounds that she's invited a Senator to the party too, and now has naughty pictures of him frolicking with assorted buxom young maidens of ill-repute. Apparently this is enough to get them off the hook, even as he happily handcuffs himself to the nearest wall bracket.
To celebrate, Lula 3D hands the two Triplets she never actually rescued the treasure she never found, and... wait. Two triplets? Two? This imbecilic game can't even count? Let's check that...
Nope! TWO TRIPLETS. Okay, it's possible that Chrissy never made it out of the encounter with the gangsters at the Beauty Farm, but Gina survived, it's never mentioned that she died, and if she had, you'd think the survivors might find some time for 'grieve over our fallen sister' before 'go hang out with our slutty boss'. But hey. It takes all sorts to make a world, right? Even sociopaths!
This game promised Bouncing Boobs Technology. Instead, it served up a lot of balls. Much like Hopkins FBI, the only real reason to play it is for the sheer craziness of its story, though it might serve double-duty if you're long-term unattached - not as a masturbatory way of compensating, but a way of rendering the entire concept of wild hedonistic sex about as interesting as starting up a wool collection. Not a
cool wool collection either. No, an all-grey wool collection, whose biggest talking point is that a few of them might easily be mistaken for lint. But aren't. They're wool. Just wool. Forever alone.
Excuse me. My tongue has a hot date with an electrical socket.