As technology and tastes progress, so too does the video game design meta. Some genres like the beat ’em up died out as they paved the way for bigger and better versions of the genre (in this case, the character action game); others have suffered greatly as time passed, their legacy as fleeting as the quarters spent to play them. One such genre is the rail shooter: games where the player has no control over their movement or traversal whatsoever; worrying only about surviving the waves of enemies come to reap them of their hard-earned arcade cash. These games consumed the childhoods of many an arcade junkie and now they’re back with the help of visual novel storytelling to present us the most moe shooter one can imagine.
Enter Gal*Gun Double Peace.
Game Name: Gal*Gun Double Peace
Platform(s): PS4, PS Vita (Reviewed on PS4)
Developer(s): Inti Creates
Release Date: 8/2/2016
Price:$59.99 (PS4) $39.99 (Vita)
With series like Hyperdimension Neptunia and Senran Kagura growing their cult fanbases with their moe (waifu-driven) wiles lately, the pitch is set for a Gal*Gun‘s unique take on the rail shooter genre. On a basic level, the player controls Houdai Kudoki, a hapless young man who has just reconnected with his two close childhood friends. This situation has proven to be a perfect test for Ekoro, an apprentice cupid-type angle, to prove herself to her goddess. After spotting a demon eyeing Houdai as a target for a make-up exam of her own, Ekoro panics and accidentally blasts our intrepid hero with a charged shot 32 times as powerful as a normal cupid’s arrow. Sounds great right? If a cupid’s arrow can make someone fall in love, then surely 32 will make it a done deal!
Unfortunately, there’s a lot more rigmarole to the situation than that. A cupid’s arrow doesn’t make someone more desirable through its own merit, but rather it doubles down on the target’s future chances of romance to make this one romance easier to obtain (this is why cupids usually pick targets whose potential relationships are only just short of coming to fruition). With that said, 32 arrows would have an effect so powerful that after the day ends, Houdai will never have a chance at anyone loving him to any degree again (unless of course he is able to find a girlfriend, in which case the sheer power of the arrow will make her love him forever). Worse still is that so much power is bound to attract an inordinate amount of girls, and if he proves himself unable to resist the onslaught of high school coeds he will more than likely have to live his life being loved only by someone he doesn’t share feelings for.
With Ekoro’s help, Houdai must now fend of waves off eager schoolgirls with his newly gained pheromone shot as he desperately searches for the girl he is to spend the rest of his life with. Of course, this won’t come easy; after all, who is he to chose? Two of his dearest childhood friends (sisters, no less) have just re-entered his life, and that Aoi girl from the light music club is pretty cool, but then again how can one not get closer to the girl who’s working so hard to help you find love? That demon girl’s pretty cute too since we’re on the subject…
As was mentioned, Gal*Gun Double Peace is a rail shooter. As such, Houdai will move throughout levels on a pre-determined path while the player does his best to deliver euphoria to his pursuers via the pheromone shot. Normally these types of games have damage modifiers for headshots or the like, and Gal*Gun is no different: each girl has a sensitive spot (head, chest, hips, or legs) which will instantly cause them experience euphoria if shot. Some girls are under the influence of the loose demon girl and will attempt to dominate Houdai rather than confess to him. What’s worse, this possession makes them immune to the pheromone shot until the tiny demon controlling them has been shot. The player can also activate “Doki-Doki mode,” where up to three girls can be taken into a pocket dimension to be felt up. Completion of Doki-Doki mode will also trigger a screen-clearing explosion of love, making it a strong tool to use when in a bind.
Much like Gal*Gun’s core gameplay, the story that plays out in the visual novel portion is fairly simple but fulfilling. The player must choose a girl to go after and in doing so decide the story’s structure going forwards. From there on, the goal is to reach maximum affection levels with the chosen girl. Specifics vary from case to case, but for the most part this is accomplished by choosing the correct dialogue choices when talking to them and successfully completing story events. Every major dialogue portion in the game has a handful of options the player can choose from, but certain ones (typically lewd, athletic, or academic in nature) will require certain stats from the player. These stats can be raised by purchasing stat boost items in the in-game store and can also be modified by certain actions taken in any given use of doki-doki mode.
Generally speaking, the story paths are all fairly well written and have their high points. However, there seems to be a clear divide in intrigue within the different routes. Shinobu (the older sister) has the most engrossing story by virtue of more focus on the supernatural goings on, with her younger sister Maya taking second. From there, Ekoro and Kurona (demon girl) have interesting enough plots due to the supernatural element they bring to the table, but are lacking in genuine romantic development. The list goes on, but just let it be known that when given the option of which route to pursue, further left on the selection screen will net you a better story. Don’t let that stop you from following your heart though, that’s the whole point of these games!
As a whole, Gal*Gun not only offers a time-honored type of gameplay, but also gives a strong story about a young man trying to find the love of his life. All it takes is a bit of a thicker skin to see through all of the perverted themes.
There are also a few odds and ends that I would like to close on for those whose interest is piqued. Foremost of which is that those who are genre aware will have a better time here than anyone else. The characters cling fairly close to tropes, so those with experience will often be able to tell how far and/or lewd they can go with dialogue choices if it so please them.
Furthermore, though I said that each girl has a different weak spot. That was only mostly true; certain types of girls will always have the same weak spot. For example, girls with their hair covering their eyes will always be weak on their heads, and teachers are always weak on their legs.
Lastly, a common complaint in this game is that the touch controls needed for certain story events are faulty, but that is simply not the case. For example, there is a prompt in Maya’s story which requires circle motions be made on the DualShock 4’s touchpad; this action is not read well if an index finger is used, but responds well with a thumb. Remember: it’s not the number of dimensions a girl has that’s important; it’s your technique. If a touch command isn’t working for you, try another way to perform it.
In all, Gal*Gun Double Peace manages to surprise on nearly every front: solid gameplay that stands out in the genre, enjoyable storytelling, and massive replayability thanks to multiple endings per route and level selection throughout the game’s chapters. The are a few points of contention though. Though the models are serviceable for the most part, textures are generally low resolution and become distracting in situations where a lot of the screen is covered in a more detailed texture like wood or dirt. The aiming system can also be a hassle sometimes, as the left analog stick on a DualShock 4 is used as opposed to any type of motion control or light gun. Normally it isn’t an issue, but collectibles found in each level must be shot to be obtained, and often times it feels like the amount of time given to shoot them is too short considering the controls.
However, the sheer individuality and apparent love for both genres makes Gal*Gun Double Peace’s pros far outweigh the cons.
The niche for this game is small, but if you’ve stuck with me this far, chances are this game will be worth it for you.
*A review copy for the PS4 version of the game was provided by the publisher
Gal*Gun Double Peace
Gal*Gun Double Peace is just as fun and bizarre as its premise would suggest: the combination of the utterly shameless gameplay with the strangely heartfelt and sincere storylines make this title a must-have for moe enthusiasts and those of high constitution.
- Unique concept
- Solid gameplay both in shooting and visual novel portions
- High replayability
- Low resolution textures
- Touch control sections need specific input techniques
- Collectables are hard to get by virtue of the controls