Monday, February 9, 2015

Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender [GAMES]


Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender was a 1992 point-and-click adventure game with an intentionally goofy premise and plot.  Space pilot Rex Nebular takes a commission to find a valuable vase in a mysterious sector of space where ships keep disappearing, only to discover a cloaked planet where all the men have died from a mysterious virus and only females are alive.  The game world consists of three large areas: the surface of the planet, which is full of low-tech hut dwellers; an underground complex of the surviving high-tech women; and a deserted city of the planet's men.  Rex, of course, runs around, encounters obstacles, gets into trouble, and has to use a wide variety of random objects to make progress in his quest.  The game isn't actually as funny as it wants to be (Flight of the Amazon Queen was more amusing), but the puzzles are pretty fair and enjoyable.  The fun with adventure games, despite the occasional frustration of getting completely stuck with no idea what to do next*, is when you're able to connect several disparate things to achieve that "a-ha!" moment.  For example, at one point:

I went through a lot of work to construct a timed detonator and explosives, with no idea why;

I manage to maneuver a large decorative boat from a theme-restaurant out into the street, with no idea why;

I needed to get to the top of a huge tower, but there was no way to climb;

One scene in the game is set in a room below sea level with a large glass window to view aquatic life

So when you figure out: I'll attach the explosives to the glass window, set the timer, run to the boat, flood the entire city, the water will raise the boat up to the top of the tower, and there you go.  Awesome.

The game has a ton of silly death and dismemberment animations when Rex screws up, but the game automatically starts Rex at the nearest safe screen so there's no frustration component.  Not a great game, but a good one for fans of the genre.

* My usual walkthrough confessions: (1) I completely overlooked the binoculars in the crashed spaceship; part of that is the game's fault, as the graphics make it very hard to distinguish items from background; (2) I couldn't get past the cannibal woman--first, I never noticed the pit, and second, I never noticed the branches to put over the pit, and third, I would never have guessed I could lure someone from another screen into the pit screen; (3) I didn't know that the teleporter would take me to the starbase to steal a ship at the end, because it you try it earlier in the game, you get disintegrated

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