With new PS5 games being listed at an MSRP of $70, it is finally time to forsake modern gaming. Why pay $70 for some open-world bullshit when you COULD be playing some horny point & click adventure games? That’s my new motto, baby. Ben had the right idea when he scooped up that Turbografx 16 Mini. As for myself, first I dove into the typo-ridden world of 1992’s Cobra Mission, and now I’ve entered the more grammatically sound world of 1992’s Rex Nebular & The Cosmic Gender Bender, created by MicroProse. This game has dick jokes. It’s got aliens. It’s got casual sexism. Truly, what more could you ask for?
I’ve had this one vaguely on my radar for a few months now. There was a demo available on Internet Archive, and as soon as I read the title, I knew that I needed to give it a shot. The story is that you are Rex Nebular, a typical stinky man who doesn’t clean out his fridge and doesn’t know what an iron is. He is sent on a mission to obtain a fancy vase from a faraway planet. As he approaches the planet, he is shot down by a squadron of female aliens. He crash lands and quickly learns that this planet is ruled by women who don’t take too kindly to men. In fact, there are no “biological” men left, as they were all killed during a literal battle of the sexes.
In order to procreate, the women of the planet have invented The Gender Bender. The more powerful women, called Keepers, use this machine to turn other women into men. They then keep the transmogrified people as breeding stock. However, now that they have a “real” man in Rex, they’re looking to experiment on him and turn him into their new stock. Horny as Rex may be, he’s not super interested in being trapped on this planet as a sex slave, so it’s up to the player to help him finish his mission and escape.
Gameplay-wise, the mechanics are simple. You have ten choices of point and click action – stuff like push, pull, take, talk to, etc. You choose an action and then click on an object to interact with it. Like in most games of its ilk, if you pick something nonsensical, like talking to a disemboweled alien corpse, text will appear telling you that you can’t do that. Rex Nebular takes it up a notch, though, and usually the text boxes actually make fun of you for trying to do something so dumb. To be honest, I spent a lot of time trying to get Rex to do silly things just to read the goofy text.
There are also a few sub-options for items in your inventory that are mostly useless. For example, you can make a bomb and juggle with it. This accomplishes nothing, but it gives you a funny dialogue box. It also gives you the option to disassemble your binoculars or rip up an important ID card, but if you actually choose any of those options, Rex will yell at himself and ask why he’s considering doing something so stupid.
The Gender Bender is not only amusing, it also provides a really interesting puzzle mechanic. Since the planet has been split into man and woman areas because of The Great Gender War, there are areas that you’re not allowed to enter if you have a penis. If you try to teleport into a certain zone as a man, you will immediately get eviscerated. Conversely, if you try to enter the lost city of Machopolis as a woman, you won’t be allowed to go anywhere – there are cars that scan your junk to make sure you’re, uh, equipped for the manly task of driving.
There are three difficulty levels, but even the hardest option it’s still pretty forgiving. You have unlimited lives and even if you die, you’ll start right back where you were. This is a relief, because I ended up getting Rex eaten by a dog and smushed by a fat barbarian woman multiple times. It’s challenging enough to be engaging, but not challenging enough to make you start cursing at your computer screen in frustration.
Is it a perfect game? No, not at all. It definitely aged poorly, both in terms of story and game mechanics. It’s obviously a very cisgender-centric, heterosexist romp. There’s even a bit of light homophobia thrown in, as Rex has a little gay panic when he finds himself admiring the legs of a drag queen he sees in Machopolis. But let’s be real, I didn’t play a game that features pixelated titties within the first five minutes for feminist theory, know what I mean?
On a more technical note, it’s very frustrating that you can’t run anywhere – watching Rex slowly make his way across the screen is so infuriating to my instant-gratification 21st century brain. The scenes where you drive are excruciatingly long, and I would end up getting up to grab a snack while I waited for the load cycle to finish. Again, though, if I was looking for fast-paced action, I wouldn’t have picked up a decades old point-and-click game.
If you want to play this game, it’s available on Steam. In fact, there’s a pretty sweet deal going where you can get ten ye olde computer games made by MicroProse for about $20. I scooped that package right up, naturally. Hopefully there will be some charmingly dumb stuff in there, and I’ll be able to fill you in on some more erotic pixelated fun!