X-Change (PC) review
"Amongst H game fans, no title polarizes opinion like X-Change. It’s purportedly the top seller in Peach Princess’ catalogue, an assertion supported by the company’s willingness to fast track the localization of its sequels and spinoffs. Many people will shell out good money for these subsequent efforts because they so enjoyed the premise of the first - to see how the other half lives. They love this gender switching adventure, seeing the illusion of a male’s sexual promiscuity grafte..."
Amongst H game fans, no title polarizes opinion like X-Change. It’s purportedly the top seller in Peach Princess’ catalogue, an assertion supported by the company’s willingness to fast track the localization of its sequels and spinoffs. Many people will shell out good money for these subsequent efforts because they so enjoyed the premise of the first - to see how the other half lives. They love this gender switching adventure, seeing the illusion of a male’s sexual promiscuity grafted into a woman’s voluptuous body. On the other hand, just as many players detest the baseness of the material, denouncing the non-stop debauch for its trivialization of nonconsensual sex. The divide between the two viewpoints persists because both are equally valid, and how you feel about this game will rely on your momentary measure of righteousness.
The object most under scrutiny here is one Takuya Aihara, a junior college student (by law) with an undersized frame and an overdeveloped love of chemistry club. For a young lad, this translates into a rather dull existence, one perfectly captured by X-Change’s gameplay mechanics. The story advances through decisions chosen from a text menu, an unfortunate circumstance because X-Change is old enough to contain now abandoned customs of H games that proceeded it, like forcing the player to cycle through an entire menu multiple times. For example, Takuya’s first task involves repeatedly washing a few select pieces of glassware until the computer is satisfied they're spotless. Not only does this lead to listless dialogue, but your choices here don’t affect the outcome of the game at all.
The game’s other primary sign of age is that is has no voice acting, which means you have to rely on a forgettable soundtrack for all auditory emotional cues. Fortunately, X-Change is up to date in the most important area; the smooth artwork has none of the jagged pixels seen in DOS games localized before. It looks hand-drawn, like you would see in any anime, providing a great view of the copious amounts of T&A present in the game. Most of that, though, would be Takuya’s T&A. See, a seemingly harmless spill of his beloved synthetic compounds has turned Takuya into a girl overnight, and now he’s going to do what every guy wants to do with a fine feminine physique; he’ll just be on the receiving end.
And it’s almost never by choice. Takuya may not mind feeling up his new body, fooling around with his freaky step-sister, or even seducing a meek classmate for a lunch break quickie, but more people than that want a piece of him. In fact, pretty much everyone is willing to overlook the fact that just yesterday, Takuya was a decidedly different gender. The boys fill his locker with love notes. The crotchety old gym teacher has no problem bending his student over his desk to take him from behind. The school nurse is so excited by this sexy new body that she can’t wait to see it in action, so she enlists two anonymous students to take Takuya for a test ride. Even complete strangers are willing to turn the morning commute into a gangbang on the Rape Bus.
Such is the sum total of our hero(ine)’s new life. Each of the seven endings takes him through a path of sexual depravity. There is a little love story involved, bookending the unceasing orgy that makes up the bulk of the game. It involves Takuya’s fiery friend Asuka and his chemistry club mate Asami, the only two people who seem to care about switching him back to normal. But mostly they exist so you have a couple other girls to stare at, even if their figures look exactly like Takuya’s.
There are deeper questions regarding the perception of gender brought forth by this game, though they’re never seriously touched on by the content. As humorous as it is that no character cares that Takuya’s lovely body was recently just a weak little boy’s, you are no doubt anticipating its baring with the same lecherous desire yourself, which prompts the question of how to view this chemically altered anomaly. If you think of Takuya as a man trapped in a woman’s body, then perhaps his brutal regimen of three rapes a day won’t bother you so much. After all, he’s still a guy that’s up for whatever sexual activity he can find. However, the first time he swallows a throbbing python of love without hesitation may give pause to that sentiment.
It may even convince you that Takuya is experiencing some kind of estrogen overload and has taken on more than just the physical appearance of a woman. But the repercussions there are quite disturbing, as Takuya never once feels abused servicing everyone in the immediate vicinity. In fact, X-Change pointedly marks his existence as a purely sexual object, to be used by all. There is one specific instance where you’re given an opportunity to cry out against an attacker, but this action is met with chiding and ridicule rather than help, giving the game a rather ugly face.
Then again, maybe Takuya is just a bisexual nympho who will take pleasure in whatever forms it comes. There’s certainly not much time for consideration of any of these weighty thoughts, as the game clips away at a fervent pace. Any thread of the story can be completely read through in around an hour, and with auto-skipping, the narrative can be ignored for a fifteen minute collage of moral turpitude. But that symptom is not uncommon of the genre in the English speaking market, and X-Change is really only set apart because it’s pseudo-female main character allows for a generous serving of gangbangs. Groundbreaking, indeed. If that does sound genuinely appealing, you’d be better served to try the infinitely longer, more developed, and more engaging sequel, and keep your eye out for the future localization of the series finale, X-Change 3, and its next incarnation, Yin-Yang X-Change Alternative.
Community review by woodhouse (October 28, 2005)
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