Leather Goddesses of Phobos is an interactive fiction computer game written by Steve Meretzky and published by Infocom in 1986. Like many other Infocom titles, it was released for Amiga, Apple II, Apple Macintosh, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and DOS computers. This game was Infocom's first "sex farce" and featured selectable "naughtiness" levels ranging from "tame" to "lewd". It was one of five top-selling Infocom titles to be re-released in Solid Gold versions including in-game hints. It was Infocom's twenty-first game and was followed in 1992 by the sequel Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2: Gas Pump Girls Meet the Pulsating Inconvenience from Planet X!
To start the game a gender must be chosen and the player will get a sidekick character. If the player's character is male, he will meet a burly but dim-witted man named Trent; if the player's character is female, she will find an attractive but somewhat ditzy woman named Tiffany. There were a few differences in game-play between the two sexes, so players would often replay the game as the other sex, just to see what would happen.
Leather Goddesses of Phobos bore a difficulty rating of "Standard". The game has 75 locations, including the maze known as the catacombs, the planets Mars and Venus (which must be explored extensively), outer space, and the city of Cleveland, which is a single location with one building and two exits. When the player reaches the south pole of Mars, he or she is told that paths lead "north, north and north".
The game begins in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, in 1936 and is presented in the manner of a science fiction serial of that time. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos are just finalizing their plans for the invasion of Earth. The player's character has been abducted by the Leather Goddesses for the final testing of the plan which will enslave all of humanity. Unless this nefarious plan is stopped, the Earth will be turned into these twisted vixens' pleasure dome. Despite the player's possible motives, this outcome is considered unfavorable.
A few months after Infocom moved into its Cambridge offices, Meretzky jokingly wrote the words "Leather Goddesses of Phobos" on a large chalkboard that listed all of the Infocom games that were in release at that point. Meretzky described the title as "something that would be a little embarrassing, but not awful." Joel Berez spotted the added line before anyone else arrived and erased it quickly, but the name stuck and was jokingly brought up whenever a non-existent game title needed to be worked into a sentence. Eventually, in 1985, Meretzky came around to the idea of actually creating a game under this title, and started its development as a 1930s science fiction pulp story – the idea was instantly accepted by Marc Blank and the other Infocom staff. Upper management was more difficult to convince, and then-CEO Al Vezza (who was more interested in the business-side of the company) was not enthused at the idea. However, when Infocom was aqcuired by Activision in 1986 due to the banktrupted business products effort, Activision president Jim Levy was much more excited: when told that "Leather Goddesses of Phobos" wasn't its definitive title, he allegedly responded with "I wouldn't call it anything else!"
The game featured no copy protection as such, but like many Infocom games, it included puzzles that were nearly impossible to solve without hints from the accompanying documentation (the so-called feelies). Leather Goddesses included the following feelies, one of which was quite uncommon among Infocom's games:A small scratch and sniff card which bore seven numbered areas (at certain points in the game, the player would be instructed to scratch a certain number and then whiff the resulting odor. Given the possibilities for a game featuring a "lewd mode", the scents were relatively innocuous, such as pizza and chocolate.
The Adventures of Lane Mastodon, a 3-D comic book containing vital hints to the game
3-D glasses for the Lane Mastodon comic book
A double-sided map of the catacombs
This creative take on copy protection earned Leather Goddesses a SPA Excellence in Software Award for Best Software Packaging in 1987.
Leather Goddesses of Phobos was very successful. It was Infocom's best-selling game in 1986 with 53,543 copies sold, more than 50% greater than that of Trinity, which also debuted that year. The company sold a total of about 130,000 copies, three times as many as any other game after Activision bought them. The game was Infocom's last to sell more than 100,000 copies, and its sixth best-selling game overall.
A sequel to Leather Goddesses of Phobos, subtitled Gas Pump Girls Meet the Pulsating Inconvenience from Planet X!, was published by Activision in 1992.
In the 2015 film The Martian starring Matt Damon, Leather Goddesses of Phobos was referenced as being loaded on fellow astronaut Beth Johanssen's laptop along with Infocom's Zork II.