By Joseph Puntschart / July 22nd, 2016
|Title||Gal*Gun: Double Peace|
|Release Date||22/07/16 (EU)
|Age Rating||ESRB M/PEGI 16|
A common criticism of the Western shooter market is that the games released tend to adopt very similar features – a dark gritty art style, realistic visuals, blood and gore, themes of wars and outer space and so on. If you were to put the Inti Creates developed Gal*Gun: Double Peace alongside them, the game would easily stand out straight away. A cutesy moe art syle, cartoon visuals, a modern day high school setting and ecchi content are all at odds with what western gamers have arguably come to expect from their shooters. Don’t let it deter you though; this game is a breath of fresh air.
Let’s start with the premise – you play as Houdai, whom is accidentally shot with an overcharged love arrow by an elite angel called Ekoro. You then have to find and confess your feelings to your true love within one day. If you fail to do this, you will be single forever and girls will avoid you. However, during the course of the day the various girls all want a piece of you and you have to shoot them with euphoria in order to stop them from chasing you. It’s a pretty crazy setup for a very bizarre game. With a few supporting female characters in tow (including the main love interests Shinobu and Maya), off you go to start your quest for love.
This game is a rail shooter – you don’t control Houdai, you instead go down predetermined paths. But you can control the reticle with either analogue stick and aim at the various women that try to seduce you with love letters, kissing and shouting (which turn into projectiles of various kana and kanji). However, if they’ve been poked by the demon Kurona, they will attempt in violent ways such as foot stomping. You can aim at the women and shoot them in the head, body, groin or legs. One of these areas is their weak point that gives them euphoria quicker and the key is finding and remembering the weak areas in order to get the highest scores on the game. The aiming feels solid, however I found it difficult using the Vita’s little analogue sticks to aim successfully onto the smallest targets that are further away without zooming in, such as the Mr. Happiness collectibles, the journals of the various girls or (more importantly) the demons found attached to those picked by Kurona, which you have to destroy before you can give those girls euphoria.
There is of course the fanservice which a key component of Gal*Gun – this is shown in the dialogue and overall tone of the story. In the shooting segments, girls given euphoria frequently drop on the floor, exposing their knickers for the player to see, and there is also a dressing room where you can equip different costumes onto the characters through the starting screen. Alternatively, there are mini-games where you follow the prompts on the screen as you seek to get your love interest out of particular situations. For example, one mini-game on Maya’s route is where she gets stuck inside the trap she laid out in an attempt to capture the demon Kurona and her short skirt is facing outwards so should the camera point that way you’d get a panty shot. I found these minigames a bit boring personally, they are simply a button mashing affair before using the Vita’s touch controls to help get her out. You have to do these mini-games three times in order to clear them, which is a bit too much considering what you do.
The same cannot be said for the Doki-Doki minigame however – this is where you bring up to three girls into a special mode where you have to use the reticle to find their weak points and help give them euphoria and help them “climax.” This is not too dissimilar to the standard shooting action, except you have to fill up a gauge and if you successfully do it, their euphoria will explode and it will clear the screen of girls. This mode is supremely silly, and is very useful for when you are in a tight spot with the various girls. It’s the highlight of the game especially if you like this kind of content. With the PS Vita version you can also use the touch controls on the women, meaning that you can get this mode done faster by touching multiple weak spots. While this touchscreen interaction isn’t as risqué as other games on the system (Genkai Tokki, anybody?), it is still some pretty risqué stuff. However, the Doki Doki mode is entirely optional if you simply wish to beat the game but you may find you will need to use it to get the higher scores in the game or out of a tight spot.
There are multiple routes you can take through the game, like a visual novel. You can choose Shinobu or Maya at first, but on repeat playthroughs you can have a harem with them both, go down the unsure route or find somebody else entirely. Also, like a visual novel, this game will require multiple playthroughs to unlock all the endings, told through visual novel cutscenes (although there is no 2D art during these scenes). Gal*Gun won’t take long to beat if you’re looking to simply play through the game once. The key to success in Gal*Gun is through replaying the game to get better scores on the girls by shooting them in the right places as well as doing well on the minigames. There are also two difficulty modes, so you can make the game easy or harder if you wish. The story itself is very lighthearted and it’s entertaining to read the localized dialogue; much like the Neptunia series, taking it less seriously leads to a more enjoyable experience. It fits this game perfectly. The music is also fitting as well, though some tunes do get repetitive (such as the mini-game theme and the fact that there are only two themes played during the shooting sections throughout the whole game).
Unfortunately the PS Vita version doesn’t appear to have been properly optimized for the platform. The Vita version suffers from framerate dips and long loading times of several seconds in comparison to the PS4 version between levels and even cutscenes. The PS4 version has none of these issues and runs smoothly. These framerate dips occur when there are multiple girls on screen, especially combined with moving your position during the “Danger” sections of the game (the tricky part, in other words). There isn’t much of a visual difference, however this game appears to have been developed with the PS Vita version in mind from a graphical standpoint, but the technical side appears to have been a letdown. Oddly enough, Doki-Doki mode doesn’t appear to have any of these issues. Folks that are bothered by technical flaws may get put off purchasing the PS Vita version because of this. Also, for the purists out there who don’t know this already there is no censorship in Gal*Gun: Double Peace, which is a positive for those people whom avoid censored games.
Gal*Gun is a short but fun game, with my playthrough clocking at just over three hours – those who are open minded enough to try it may end up being pleasantly surprised by the game, despite its short length, partially repetitive soundtrack and boring mini-games. The price is $39.99 on Vita and $59.99 on PS4, and if you are prepared to play through the game multiple times to get all the endings, the game is worth its price tag. For those more on the fence or whom only want to play the game more casually like myself, a price drop is recommended, and even more so if you normally steer clear of ecchi games or shooters. It’s one of the most bizarre games to get released in English and if this game is right up your street, it deserves your support.
Review copy supplied by the publisher for review purposes
ecchiGal Gun Double PeaceGal*GunInti CreatesPQubePS VitaPS4rail shooter