Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender Review

Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender Featured

Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender Boxart

Developer: MicroProse
Publisher: MicroProse
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG*

If we were to be transported back to the start of the 90s we’d see that adventure games were still king. The two main combatants in the ring were Sierra and LucasArts, although many others tried to emulate them. One of MicroProse’s adventure game efforts was Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender. With its own brand of adult humor, it actually does succeed in certain respects, although it falls apart in others.

Our star is Rex Nebular,  an apparently for-hire thief, who regales a very strange tale that took place as he attempted to recover something for a mission. While searching through the galaxy his ship is intercepted by hostiles who shoot him down, landing him on their planet. As is quickly revealed, the planet seems inhabited purely by women. The Great Gender War proved women the dominant gender thanks to their incredible biochemical skills, which wiped all dudes from existence. Rex is set to either be killed or used as livestock to keep the population growing.

Although that might sound like some sort of tawdry sci-fi lit, Rex isn’t exactly enthused at either prospect. What he cares about most is his mission and heading home. Of course, puzzles slow his adventure. Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender has multiple difficulty settings which dictate how many of the puzzles a player has to deal with. Although none are impossibly obtuse, some are a bit mean. Inventory management is downright horrible as you must scroll through an ever-increasing list of items to find the one to use. Anyone who relies on guess and check for puzzles will be in a world of pain here.

Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender Featured

Most point and click adventures that weren’t from the big companies had a hard time with humor. This game actually manages to (mostly) nail it. Jokes are ridiculous and silly without resorting to gendered jokes as I expected would be the case. Honestly, the whole “Gender Bender” thing seems overblown in an otherwise relatively tame adventure experience. Women in the game are routinely depicted as strong as they are the leaders of society and inhabit a great many roles. The biggest issue is that all the women fit a stereotypical Western depiction of beauty, minus one who is used as a completely useless sight gag.

So while it is actually a pretty funny romp, it is short and far less interesting than the name implies. The story feels like the beginning of a series of (as of yet unseen) Rex Nebular adventures. Rex just wasn’t cut out for that. Despite excellent writing overall, Rex himself is mostly a blank slate with a dash of machismo. Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender is best for adventure game lovers who can handle anything as long as it has snappy writing.

Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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