X-Change (PC) review
"If in earlier days, or perhaps even now, you were like most young men -- and all you ladies out there, I’m guessing you weren’t -- you probably at some point wished yourself a girl. That’s right -- a frilly dress-wearing, tea party-hosting, Nancy Drew-reading girl. Well I’m here to disillusion you and hopefully break you of those twisted desires, because if X-Change is any indicator -- and knowing the reputed mystical insights possessed by your average Japanese game designer, it probably ..."
If in earlier days, or perhaps even now, you were like most young men -- and all you ladies out there, I’m guessing you weren’t -- you probably at some point wished yourself a girl. That’s right -- a frilly dress-wearing, tea party-hosting, Nancy Drew-reading girl. Well I’m here to disillusion you and hopefully break you of those twisted desires, because if X-Change is any indicator -- and knowing the reputed mystical insights possessed by your average Japanese game designer, it probably is -- being a girl is horrible in all the worst imaginable ways. To put it succinctly, let’s just say that it involves a whole lot less than I would be looking for in the way of Nancy Drew’s resourceful and cunning crime-solving, and a whole lot more in the way of getting violently raped.
The theme of gender exchange is not a new one: the ancients were fully cognizant of the intriguing exploits that can ensue when a man turns into a woman. Tiresias of Thebes, the mythical soothsayer, was turned into a woman (temporarily) for killing a snake while it was engaged in coitus. And although we can’t yet turn XX into XY, we (and by we I mean poorly trained Thai doctors) can do some complex surgeries -- yet those too have a long history: Emperor Nero ordered an ex-slave turned into a woman by surgical means -- because he resembled Nero’s former wife -- and when the operation was done he married the new-made woman. Nor is abrupt physical transformation unknown in great literature, as all the high school students who’ve pretended to understand the intricate symbolism of Gregor Samsa’s transformation into a beetle in Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” will attest. The point is, this is a theme which offers a lot of potential depth, in comparison to other bishoujo games which, to take exempla gratis the infamous Water Closet, revolve around excretory functions and boorish bathroom humor.
Appallingly for the intellectual gamer, however, X-Change takes the low road by giving us yet another crude dose of rapine and raping. The story begins by introducing us to the young hero, Takuya Aihara. Immediately he is portrayed for maximum identification with the target audience -- that is, teenage boys -- as he objectifies the women around him and digs for sexual opportunities at every turn. Then, as your heart pounds for the first exciting glimpse of flesh -- let’s acknowledge why we’re really here -- we follow Takuya into a chemistry lab, where he...cleans up. He seems to be participating in this womanly drudgery to win the heart (read: anal virginity) of the cute female president of the chemistry club. So we clean for a bit. Sadly Takuya is fairly inept at his assigned task and manages to douse himself with a jarful of a mysterious chemical, and seemingly in Japan this is not cause for concern -- according to my hentai-based education, lab orientation in the Eastern world doesn’t include locating the safety shower or the eye wash. I’m betting that it does include memorizing the location of the condoms.
In any case, the result of this drenching is that once home, Takuya finds himself changed into a woman. Of course, Takuya attends school the next day despite this setback, putting shame to all those American youngsters who take days off for a common cold or a case of meningitis. In fact, Takuya pretty much goes about...its...daily life, with some minor changes. Once simple activities, like opening a school locker or spending quality time with a favorite sibling, now include violent undertones of sexual abuse. Taking a ride on the bus: you’ll get taken for a ride alright. Lunch at the cafeteria: throw in a healthy serving of protein. Gym class: when the rest of the team is doing those hamstring stretches, Takuya’s loosening her sphincter. Fortunately, in the package with the supple breasts and trim figure of the hentai female, Takuya has also gained the ability, seemingly ubiquitous among the women of the hentai world, to enjoy horrific violations. Whereas brutal rape might be a sorry finish to a story in Rwanda or some other war-torn state, it’s happily ever after in the world of X-Change.
But to many bishoujo connoisseurs out there, ghastly rape is nothing new. To those brave souls, I say: have no fear, innovation is not dead. An exciting new feature promulgated by this title is the ability to fast-forward through text scenes until you reach your next branching decision. Yes, they have indeed done away with even the most superficial façade of caring about the story, and moved directly to selling you about 80 hentai CGIs equivalent to those you can easily get for free online. There’s also a convenient gallery that allows you to get all the pictures without having to load up a game save and play forward to your desired rape scene.
As one of the commonest and thus most easily acquired hentai games, at least in the states, X-Change has found its way into the hearts and groins of many gamers around the country. But really, it’s not worth playing: if I were allowed I could point you to a few websites that offer you more than this game does with far less trouble. To assure you that you’re not missing anything, let me quickly reiterate the central theses of this title, and the lessons you should learn.
(1) Dangerous chemical accidents can turn men into women. Lesson: Science has far more glorious things to offer than it is letting on.
(2) Gym teachers can often be bribed with sex. Lesson: We should probably start paying our teachers enough to afford prostitutes of legal age.
These lessons may not even apply to you. They may offend you. But no matter who you are, you must remember this one thing: no matter what X-Change tells you, young boys turned into girls probably don’t like being raped. Oh, and also, no sex in the champagne room.
“‘What has happened to me?’ Gregor thought. It was no dream.” -- The Metamorphosis
Community review by denouement (June 20, 2004)
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