Gal*Gun Double Peace is exactly the kind of game that will make some people shake their heads in disdain. On its surface, it is little more than an excuse for titillation, offering simple and juvenile excuses to do things like steal panties and look through women’s clothing. But beneath the veneer of simplistic gameplay and blatant objectification is a game that has both charm and heart to spare, and even sports some decent gameplay chops.
The main story of Gal*Gun revolves around the player character, Houdai. An average anime slacker stereotype, Houdai finds himself the most popular boy in school after a mishap with a Cupid’s arrow leaves him with one day to find his one true love, lest he live the rest of his days alone. The Cupid, realizing her mistake, then aids you throughout the day in finding said true love, while trying to best her demonic foil Kurona. Suffice it to say, this story is bonkers, and does very little to take itself seriously. Which is good. Told through fully animated visual novel cutscenes, Gal*Gun‘s story is content to poke fun at various aspects of teen love and sexuality, and thanks to some decent localization there are a few legitimately funny moments to be had. There are even several different paths the story can take as Houdai chooses who he truly loves, some of which are only unlocked upon completion, giving some extra incentive for replay value. On the surface, it seems like a throwaway excuse for some lewd gameplay, but during my multiple playthroughs (The main campaign is short at around 3 hours), I found myself curious as to what would happen next, and even laughing out loud at some of the goofy answers I could give in conversations. I could certainly do without Kurona’s incessant “Hell” puns though.
It’s the core gameplay of Gal*Gun that will prove to be divisive among consumers, in that Gal*Gun is equal parts rail shooter and visual novel. You see, in becoming the most popular boy in school, Houdai has bestowed upon him the horrifying position of being loved by every female in the area. Thankfully, your angel sidekick Ekoro has come prepared, bestowing upon our hero a special weapon that will give girls “euphoria,” and allow Houdai to continue his search for true love. I’m not gonna mince words here: Gal*Gun is a rail shooter where you blast women with orgasms to get them to leave you alone. For this very reason, this game is guaranteed to offend some, and while some people just won’t care, it’s worth mentioning because this game revels in its sexuality.
Thankfully, playing the game itself is a fairly good time. Like any good rail shooter, the key to Gal*Gun is reaction time. Racking up long combos as obsessive schoolgirls flank you from all sides quickly becomes a strenuous affair. Prioritizing each shot you take, while also trying to find hidden items leads to some very tense and somewhat addictive gameplay moments. Fueled by a fairly surface-level upgrade system and an interesting story, I found myself cruising through levels long after I had thought I would put the controller down. When it’s all said and done, the shooting itself is nothing spectacular, especially with no light gun peripheral available for the system. But for fans of a genre that has long been dormant, it is a fun test of the reflexes.
Unfortunately, the game’s intermittent boss battles are not nearly as fun as the core gameplay. While they are few and far between in the storylines I followed, they quickly become patience-testing endeavors that drag on way too long, and don’t do enough to actually qualify as challenging. Usually consisting of the enemy running around the screen, players are tasked with shooting down projectiles, while shooting them as they flee. It’s standard fare as far as rail shooters go, but remains uninteresting, especially given some of the other boss battles in games like House of the Dead or the Resident Evil Chronicles series. Usually bookended by interesting story beats, it’s a shame the boss battles themselves are so painstakingly mediocre.
The visual style of the game is also fairly bland. An obvious port of a Vita title, environments often feel drab and vacuous, especially when outdoors. Even getting close to textures on walls and objects can look a bit rough. While some colors definitely pop on PS4, nothing ever really seems too taxing for the powerful console; it just all looks kinda plain. Character models, however, look and animate well, and are bursting with color and expression, be it in gameplay or cutscenes. It’s obvious time was put in to make them look great, but it would have been nice to see more attention paid to the environments traversed by the player. There is a decent enough variety to really give a sense of atmosphere of being in a Japanese high school, I just would have liked a bit more fidelity.
Gal*Gun Double Peace is about as niche as games get. It will chase off a lot of players due to its overall themes and sexualization, but anime and import fans looking for something to play in the dead of summer will be thrilled. Poor boss battles and forgettable environments aren’t enough to stop the goofy story and solid gameplay from creating a memorable and sometimes hilarious experience. It’s no Game of the Year contender, and never aspires to be. That might be just why I like it.