It’s every schoolboy’s dream, isn’t it? To have every girl in the building flock to your location, love letters in hand, with nary a glimpse at a competing male. It would undoubtedly be some people’s idea of heaven. For me, however, Gal*Gun Double Peace’s format just makes me uncomfortable, and not simply because I think its content is questionable.
You see, if there’s one sub-genre of game I have always avoided, it’s the Rail-Shooter. From The House of the Dead to Rayman Raving Rabbids, the prospect of being powerless to escape from advancing hordes of enemies with only a handgun to defend myself has always been a turn off. As it turns out, I still get that nervous tingle in the back of my skull even when those hordes are made up of anime girls, and it’s just plain funny when I think about it. Yes, Gal*Gun makes me want to turn off the PlayStation and hide in a corner, but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this rather well-executed shooter.
This one has more variety than your average Time Crisis clone, however, and there’s a certain attention to detail on the part of the developers that could be easily overlooked by those wishing to condemn the game no matter what. Players must make their way through various stages that take place within the school grounds, all the while trying to defend themselves from a roster of seventy or so individual girls. As they appear, the player is tasked with shooting them until all hints of violent love are irradiated, with every girl having their own weak spot. Hitting these weak spots with a regular shot, be it in the head or - ahem - just underneath their skirt, will render the aggressor immediately incapacitated. Ideally, you’ll want knock them out as quickly as possible, for if a girl gets too close, she might slap you, thrust an envelope in your face, or even knock you down to stamp on your groin. While running through the school’s many corridors, you’ll need to be on the lookout for collectible items, only some of which are visible to the naked eye; using the zoom function allows one to see the otherwise unseen, and can be used to find even more collectibles, enamour hidden ghosts and even see through clothing (yes, that was quite the surprise). If things get really overwhelming, you can hit triangle to enter “Doki Doki mode” (couldn’t for the life of me figure out what that meant). This will take you into a one-on-one grope-fest with the selected woman; here the character system really shines, because depending on the girl, you will be rewarded for hitting a more intimate weak spot, be that a tickle at the back of the knee or a rub of the shoulders.
When I first watched the game’s trailer, I thought of it as nothing more than an exploitation of libido and yet another example of female objectification in videogames; although that’s certainly the case, Gal*Gun has so much more to offer than mere titillation. The thing I noticed most about this game was just how entwined the gameplay was with the narrative and how, in my opinion, it managed to justify the otherwise questionable material. I found myself thoroughly invested in the protagonist’s journey and was genuinely upset when I achieved the worst ending for my chosen path (don’t laugh). Alongside the bizarre shoot-‘em-up sections, every now and then the protagonist has the opportunity to bond with his chosen lover, be that mending an injury or fighting a demonic carrot. During these stages, the game makes full use of the PlayStation 4 controller touchpad, prompting you to follow the actions in order to keep your future missus happy – I didn’t even know I had a touchpad until this game came along!
I’ve played through the game twice now, and I was glad to see that both romantic options played out with widely different storylines, and if I’m not mistaken, every other girl in the school can also be the ultimate goal for your affection (I personally refuse to play through a story mode any more than three times, but to each their own). All of this is on top of a score attack mode, which will likely keep you occupied for a very, very long time. My biggest issue with the game is the similarity of the stages and the gameplay; let’s face it, shooting women with a love pistol is amusing the first few times, but it begins to get dull after a while. I imagine this is an issue that all Rail-Shooters have, and although Gal*Gun goes out of its way to spice up gameplay every now and then, I really do think the genre as a whole belongs more in the arcade.
What can I say? Looks can be deceiving, and although the heavy sexualisation of women in this game will no doubt earn it denunciation from the vast majority, I believe that, once you get into it, Gal*Gun is much more than just soft anime porn. The game plays like a dream and looks fantastic, if you can get past all the naked skin and underwear shots; on top of that is an involving narrative and just enough gameplay variety to warrant several playthroughs. In spite of my initial apprehension, I can say that I really enjoyed this particular title, and not just because it let me see through shirts.
Gal*Gun: Double Peace (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a smutty knock off of House of the Dead – this one has solid gameplay, an enthralling narrative and enough content to last you at least until your loved ones get home.