Wisecrack Games's Ken Wegrzyn opened a Kickstarter project yesterday, hoping to raise the $500,000 necessary to develop Sam Suede in Undercover Exposure, a game that chronicles the adventures of a "wannabe detective" operating undercover while navigating the "law, investigating suspects, criminals, and the ladies, until he can reveal the real source of the crime before he himself is exposed."
It's a story eerily reminiscent of Al Lowe’s and Replay Game’s Leisure Suit Larry franchise, which also starred a confident, womanizing detective. That game recently saw a revival when Lowe raised $655,182 through Kickstarter crowdfunding.
The differences lie mostly in the aesthetics of both protagonists, but the story lines are parallel, as are the moods of both games.
Those similarities make sense: Lowe and Wegrzyn drew up designs for the Suede game during a brainstorming session seven years ago, but the partnership fell apart after the two failed to raise enough funds. Lowe attests now that he's had no further involvement with the Sam Suede brand.
Still, Wegrzyn has tagged Lowe's name to the Kickstarter campaign, including a digitally altered photograph and a brief biography of the designer. The messaging as a whole suggests Lowe has an active presence in Wisecrack Games operations.
Al Lowe & Ken Wegrzyn present:
Sam Suede™ in Undercover Exposure – a hilarious NEW game that’s just…hard enough!
A Comic Adventure for the 21st Century!
This is not a revival or a remake. It’s a New original game based on the comedic game design by Al Lowe & Ken Wegrzyn.
Replay Games founder Paul Trowe announced that he planned to file a lawsuit against Wisecrack by the end of the day Wednesday.
"I think the blatant misuse of the Leisure Suit Larry name and copyright material shows clear disregard for copyright law," Trowe told VentureBeat. "To piggyback on someone else's success is not only rude but also illegal."
The news has already shaken the Sam Suede backers.
"I actually like the concept," backer Ryan Power wrote, "but if Al isn't involved beyond the initial planning stages the project summary seems a little disingenuous."
"I'm withdrawing my pledge," Michael Hartmann posted after reading an angry tweet from Trowe's account.
Wegrzyn has raised slightly more than $1,500 and has 46 days left to campaign. That is, of course, unless Lowe and Replay are able to shut the project down.
Photo via Kickstarter