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X-Men Evolution Reviews
Author: Kansuke Yamada
Date: 2003

Reviewed by A. Bomire

Overall Thoughts: 
The X-Men is a great medium for AIF. Even in the comic books and movies, there is all kinds of sexual tension between team members that can easily translate into a good story. An entirely lesbian story may not be the best aspect to explore, but I can see its draw. As a big fan of the X-Men, I was really looking forward to this game when it came out. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. 

Puzzles/Game Play: 
The story line is basically a "treasure hunt" type of game where each NPC is looking for some item, and giving her that item unlocks her. This normally isn't that big of a deal, as it is a staple in the IF genre. But, and maybe I just missed something, for some of the characters there is no clue as to what she wants. I basically went through a system of giving/showing each character every item that I had until I struck the right combination. The characters are a little flat as well, lacking the personality of the originals upon which they are based. In all fairness, this is the first effort for this author (and so far, the only effort), so some of this was expected. And, English isn't his native tongue, which can explain the awkward sentences he sometimes constructs (as an example: "She is looks kind of embarrassed.") 

This game has a lot of technical difficulties. There are several misspellings, the most annoying of which is the "theropy session". The male characters in this game are more-or-less window dressing, stuck in because the author seemed to think they needed to be there. This is apparent in the male character's bedrooms. In all of the female character's bedrooms, the furniture is examinable. This isn't the case in the male character's rooms. They are described the same "bed, dresser and closet" but you can't examine the beds or the dressers. Except in Professor Xavier's bedroom, where the bed is, of course, described as Beast's bed, even covered in blue hairs. The author makes a note in his README file where he apologizes for these, saying that his beta-testers didn't catch the errors. With regards to the spelling errors, I can go along with this, as I always applaud a non-English speaker in his/her attempts to write a game in another tongue. 

In a sort-of running theme for this game, the sex is flat as well. Each scene is described in a short paragraph that sadly seems to have been put in with a rubber stamp. By the end of the game, they all sort-of blended together. 

One of the benefits of doing fan fiction is that your fan base is familiar with the characters, so you don't have to do a lot of character exposition. Unfortunately, you also have a built-in expectation of how your characters are supposed to act; what their personalities are supposed to be. As a follower of the X-Men for years, I know what the relationship is between Jean and Cyclops, between Wolverine and Jean and Jubilee. When the representation doesn't measure up, which is the case in this cardboard representation of the familiar X-Men, you run the risk of disappointing those same fans. 

Final Thoughts: 
As I said in the beginning, the Marvel Universe is almost custom-made for AIF, with sexual themes running just under the surface of almost every story, especially in the X-Men area. As such, this game had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to them. 

Rating: D 

Reviewed A. Ninny

Overreaching Rant: 
Authors of fan fiction have a particularly difficult challenge: they must capture the essence of what makes the subject matter great. It is the burden of the author to invoke and expand on the original atmospherics, character traits and relationships between characters. Alternately, they may tilt the other way, towards spoof, which requires a sense of humor. They must also create new, yet plausible content that adds something to the fictional universe that fans can really sink their teeth into. Simply contriving a new adventure for characters without revealing what makes them resonate simply isn't sufficient. 

Overall thoughts: 
I'm not a fan of the X-Men, nor am I familiar with the characters. I'm not also enamored of fan fiction, so I'm probably biased against this game from the get-go. That having been said, I could have gotten past my initial bias if the game was developed so that no prior knowledge of X-Men characters and the types of adventures they have been necessary. The author, possibly assuming that players would be attracted to the game because it was X-Men fan fiction, left out necessary background information on the X-Men as a whole and of individual X-Men. 

As I cannot bring any foreknowledge about X-Men to my experience of the game, I have to judge the game on what it provides on its own. What it provides, unfortunately, is precious little enjoyment. The game has poor technical execution, juvenile prose, guess-the-verb problems and very un-hot sex. It is unfortunately single-minded in its implementation, meaning that there is almost no extraneous activity in which to partake. There are the sex scenes, the puzzles, and little else was even considered. As an example, at one point of the game the PC is confronted with an armed guard. An author with a sense for what players might try in this situation might have made it possible for the PC to show her tits to the guard, to try to fight him, or to otherwise use sex to influence him. Instead, the author has given you only one option, to use mind control powers on him, but even after controlling his mind, there is nothing fun you can get him to do. I was wishing for the opportunity to humiliate him, just for the fun of it. This is a problem endemic throughout the game. There are no fun extras with any of the characters, very little humorous content, and that makes the game terribly thin. 

I can't say that I found the sex in the game to be well written or enjoyable. The characters never project any real reaction to the action in the game. For me to enjoy a sex scene in a game, the characters participating must have some dimension. These characters, being derived of cartoons, are inherently two-dimensional. KansukeYamada did one worse and stripped them of one of their dimensions. As a result, nothing about the sex scenes, neither the writing nor the characters, engaged my imagination. I feel that there was no attempt to immerse me in what was happening to the characters. The author focuses all his descriptive energy on the body parts in question and ignores their brains, and mine. 

The biggest technical problem in the game is the prevalence of guess-the-verb problems. In one case, for example, 'guard push panel' does not work but 'guard press panel' does. In another, 'give bill to Nightcrawler' does not work but 'give Nightcrawler bill' does. There are no in-game hints, but fortunately a walkthrough is available to help players figure their way through these problems. There are other problems in X-Men Evolution. For one thing, you cannot examine 95% of the things mentioned in the room descriptions - the author simply did not bother to program them in. For another, there are spelling and grammatical errors all over the place (Fortunately, most misspelled words are misspelled consistently. Had they not, serious guess-the-verb problems could have resulted). All of this makes it seem like a very incomplete, poorly executed effort. 

Puzzles/Game play: 
X-Men Evolution does have a few puzzles. Most are of the 'bring correct object to character' variety. Those are not difficult, but are made so by the 
guess-the-verb problems mentioned previously. You can certainly figure that you solved the Nightcrawler puzzle, but simply not think to type 'giveNightcrawler bill' when the customary syntax (and one used in other places in X-Men Evolution) is 'give bill to Nightcrawler.' As a result, players are more than likely to just go to the walkthrough to solve the puzzles in order to see the sex. 

Comparisons are inevitable between this game and British Fox and the Celebrity Abductions by Lucilla Frost. Both feature a female superheroine protagonist who lives in a mansion with a group of allied superheroes and superheroines, and significant amounts of lesbian sex. British Fox, however, provides deeper character development, a great deal of object and character interactivity, and extraordinarily difficult, yet vividly-rendered sex scenes that deliver real emotional impact. X-Men Evolution simply pales in comparison. 

Final Thoughts 
Perhaps someone with more interest in X-Men comics would have enjoyed this game more than I did. Perhaps not, though, since even on its own merits as a piece of AIF, this game lacks character depth, story interest, humor or heat, is riddled with guess-the-verb, is poorly written and supplies precious little enjoyment. 

Rating: D 

Reviewed by Christopher Cole

Overall Thoughts: 
The X-Men comics are a great source for potential AIF games. Unfortunately, I did not like this first attempt at using them. Firstly, this game is based on X-Men Evolution of which I am not a fan at all. X-Men Evolution the TV show is sort of a "Muppet Babies" for the X-Men. Numerous shows and comics (from Superman ("Smallville") to the Teen Titans) have shows like this where the heroes are shown in their younger years. I don't like any of them. I think an X-Men game based on the actual X-Men comics (say, the Uncanny series) would be great, or even better I'd like to see a game based on the X-Men movie series. Therefore, immediately I find I'm not going to enjoy this game from a sexual standpoint. 

The game is generally well made, but contains numerous spelling and grammatical errors that, while not as blatant or numerous as a Vachon game, still get very annoying very quickly. Putting the spelling errors aside, the wording itself sometimes gave me headaches. At one point late in the game while trying to solve a puzzle with Professor X, I kept getting the response "Maybe you should get a certain something for you to talk about with him." Not only is that sentence badly constructed, but it doesn't really help me know what I'm missing in game 

The sex is passable, but nothing to get excited about. Perhaps if someone really enjoys this TV show, they may get more out of this game than I did. 

Puzzles/Game play: 
For the most part, the puzzles are treasure hunts and of the "give item A to NPC B" variety. I actually don't have a problem with this. Many author's first games are like this (my "Camp Windy Lake" and "The Gamma Gals" have these kinds of puzzles). However, even so, it's still possible to make it work within the confines of the story you've set out. Storm is holding a key and she says she'll give it to me if I find her lost hairpin. Why is she even holding the key when it's to the Professor's desk? Perhaps if it had been Storm's desk it would have at least made a little sense. 

The author went to lengths to make the mansion very close to the TV show (I assume). However, this means numerous useless rooms with items described in the room description (desk, dresser, bed, closet) that are un-examinable 90% of the time. I'd say more than half the rooms in the game are useless. There are also numerous male characters that are, for the most part, not needed. I solved one of the 'puzzles' (the hairpin) simply by examining things, and therefore had no use for the Cyclops and Nightcrawler characters. Wolverine and Spyke seem equally as useless (it's possible you can ask them things, but it's unnecessary to winning the game). 

As mentioned above, the sex is fairly well written. Unfortunately the NPCs have no personality. If you aren't familiar with the X-Men (and specifically the X-Men Evolution TV show) you will have a hard time distinguishing one NPC from the next. 

The sex is all lesbian, so if that's your thing, you may enjoy the game more than I did. I do enjoy all lesbian games, but this one failed to ignite any 
passion in me for some of the reasons already laid out in this review. 

There were no game killers, but there were numerous technical problems with this game. Certain sex scenes seemed to require actions in a fairly specific order, or required you to do something without giving many clues as to what it was you had to do. For example, you can't proceed too far in the Storm scene without giving her a certain item. I found no hint this was needed (it's possible the clue is there and I simply missed it). I needed the walkthrough to solve the problem. Even if I had guessed she wanted the item, I would have needed the walkthrough to figure out how to give it to her as 'give [item] to storm' did not work. The correct phrasing was 'give storm [item]'. 

As mentioned above, there were many spelling and grammatical mistakes in this game. One that got a little on my nerves was the misspelled word 'theropy' (perhaps I need therapy for the fact that it got on my nerves so much). Again, the spelling mistakes aren't as bad as some other games (such as those of Vachon) but it was bad enough that it took away from any enjoyment I was going to get out of the game. 

In the readme, the author explains that his tester didn't catch all the problems with the first version of the game (I'm thankful I didn't play the first 
version). Perhaps he should have used more than one tester. Also, when I look at a readme before playing a game (which I always do if one is included) and I see that the author wrote the entire readme without using a single capital letter to start a sentence, I don't hold much hope that the game will be well written. 

Final Thoughts: 
I won't say this is a wasted opportunity, as some players who enjoy the X-Men Evolution TV show may enjoy this game, I will say that I'd rather see an X-Men game based on the original comic book or X-Men movies. 

Rating: D 

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