Gal*Gun Double Peace was one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had in my gaming career.
Going into it, I already knew I was going to enjoy the inherently silly concept of “shooting” cute girls with pheromones until they collapsed in a quasi-orgasmic state, but what I wasn’t quite prepared for was the fact that besides the absurd premise, the game was actually both very solid indeed from both mechanical and narrative perspectives. In retrospect, given the developer, this should never have been in any doubt, of course, but it was still nice to discover.
Now, two years later, we’re presented with a sequel: Gal*Gun 2, the third game in the franchise after the Japan-only original and Double Peace, our first encounter with the series in the West. How do you follow those? Well, read on.
Both the original Gal*Gun and Double Peace followed a fairly similar structure in that they were essentially arcade-style “lightgun” shooters (albeit without the actual lightgun) that happened to have stories and dating sim-style mechanics attached to them. Many fans would have probably been happy with more of the same, since it’s a proven formula that works well — and Inti managed to add plenty of depth and longevity to the basic formula, too.
But no. Gal*Gun 2 is actually a rather different experience for a number of reasons. Remember a while back I was a bit put out that Gal*Gun VR was PC only? I don’t feel quite so bad about that any more. Why? Because that game was clearly something of a “prototype” for what would become Gal*Gun 2. And while Gal*Gun 2 doesn’t support VR at the time of writing, its structure and mechanics mean that it could very easily be adapted to play in VR with a patch in the future. And in the meantime, there’s a very enjoyable game to play.
In Gal*Gun 2, you take on the role of a self-insert protagonist rather than the predefined characters of the first two games. And rather than being hit by a stray, overpowered angel’s arrow that makes you irresistible to your female schoolmates, you instead find yourself cooperating with a corporate wage-slave angel from Heaven’s Angel Ring Co. to help fulfil her demon-hunting quota using two very unusual pieces of technology: the Pheromone Goggles and the Demon Sweeper.
Unfortunately, the former tends to have the exact same effect as being hit with an angel’s arrow, so you still find yourself having to fend off the (probably) unwanted advances of the school’s entire female population while you’re hunting demons. The only difference is this time around you won’t be cursed to be forever alone if you don’t find a life partner by sunset. Probably.
The differences between Gal*Gun 2 and its predecessors are immediately apparent. Rather than following a set, linear narrative with discrete, branching routes, you are instead given a 20-day time limit and a free choice of what you would like to focus on in that time period. There is a specific main story arc that can be followed, there are side stories for the two main heroines Nanako and Chiru, and there are “free” missions for the secondary cast. It’s up to you how you choose to proceed, and the ending you get at the end of the 20 days is determined by the order in which you choose to tackle things — or indeed if you choose to tackle them at all.
The missions themselves now fall into five broad categories: shooting, scavenging, defending, boss fights and Doki-Doki Mode. Each takes up one of the two “time slots” available each day, and rewards vary from simple story progress to phone numbers that allow you to call up cast members and hang out with them when you’re not on a mission.
The shooting missions are the closest to how the original games operate, though there are significant differences here, too. Instead of following a predefined path through the level on rails, you instead stand at predefined locations and can freely look around, first-person shooter-style, in any direction; there are also two levels of zoom available with optional motion controls for precise aiming if you need it.
At each location, you’ll be bombarded with girls from all directions. As in the previous games, each can be dispatched with a single “Ecstasy Shot” if you hit their weak point, marked by Japanese onomatopoeia appearing when you aim at it. But there’s a couple of other all-new tricks you can use now, colloquially referred to by the community as “V-lock” (“visual lock-on”) and “VKO” (“visual knockout”).
Remember that zoom mode? It’s for more than just picking off distant targets. If you zoom in and stare at the face of a girl who is up close, you’ll not only prevent her from moving and attacking while you maintain eye contact (“V-lock”), you’ll also gradually fill up a heart-shaped meter. When this is completely full, the girl will get dizzy, and firing a shot at this point has a “bomb” like effect that takes out all girls in the vicinity (“VKO”). This is effectively the replacement for Double Peace’s Doki-Doki Mode, which had much the same effect, only with more poking people in the bum until they screamed in pleasure.
Certain girls will have mini-Kuronas attached to them, which means they can’t be defeated normally. Instead, you need to either shoot the demons off her first or use your Demon Sweeper to suck them off. Err, pull them o– you know what, I’m not even going to bother trying to find a non-lewd way to say that. The Demon Sweeper can subsequently used to suck up any free-floating demons to prevent them from attaching themselves to other girls in the area — and they’re worth points, too.
You need to take a certain amount of care with the Demon Sweeper, however; not only does it have a limited charge which can be replenished by shooting girls and hidden “Mr Happiness” score objects around the level, but it can also be used to suck the clothes right off the girls’ bodies. While this can be an effective means of clearing a room — particularly as being hit with the Demon Sweeper temporarily stuns a girl as she tries to hold on to her clothing — you don’t get any points for defeating girls in this way, and it also breaks your combo. The price for ogling.
The Demon Sweeper can also be used defensively, however. The aforementioned “hold on to her clothes” animation can be used to interrupt a girl’s attack, and if she’s performing a ranged “shout” (represented as Japanese characters flying towards you) you can actually suck this in to avoid taking damage. Watch out, though; demon-possessed girls sometimes “shout” skull symbols at you, which will cause you to take damage if you suck them in, as well as overheat your Demon Sweeper for a few inconvenient seconds!
There’s somewhat less of an emphasis on score in the main story mode than there was in Double Peace, though progression in the main story is still dependent on reaching certain total score milestones. If you decide to take on the dedicated Score Attack mode, however, you’ll need to know how to rack up the best scores. The aforementioned “VKOs” are worth the most points, then Ecstasy Shots, then finally KOs just by hitting the girl anywhere multiple times. Demons come in four distinct “tiers” and award bonus points at the end of the level — you get twice as many points for capturing them with the Demon Sweeper as you do for simply shooting them, and scattered throughout each level are a number of tiny, hidden Kurona figurines that cause more to appear.
Your combo doesn’t directly affect your score, unlike the other games; instead, it feeds into a sort of dynamic difficulty level. The higher your combo, the more likely you are to encounter girls that have more demons attached to them. This, in turn, means the potential for higher scores — assuming you can defeat the girls and suck up their demons. You’ll need to prioritise targets carefully to build up your combo as much as possible, then ideally let rip with a solid VKO when surrounded by as many girls as possible while avoiding taking damage. It’s a lot to think about!
The scavenger missions are somewhat more sedate in pacing, though they are time-limited, unlike the main stages. Here, you’re tasked with finding a particular number of inconveniently small items that are scattered around a stage, and must move between several predefined locations in order to track them all down. Here, there’s a strong emphasis on making use of the game’s physics engine to do things like open lockers and doors or move objects out of the way to find items; you’ll also find yourself needing to make use of the ability to crouch, stretch and lean around corners to find all your targets.
There’s a light “stealth” component to these stages, too; some locations feature patrolling girls who are initially unaware of your presence. Defeat them with an Ecstasy Shot before they spot you and you’ll be fine; let them see you and you’ll have to fend off an incoming wave of girls before you can proceed with your search, wasting valuable time. Kurona figures in these stages will either reveal valuable hidden demons or raise the alarm, so you take a risk every time you hit one. Since these are generally low-scoring stages anyway, you’re usually best off just trying to complete your objective as quickly as you can.
Finally, the “defend” missions are relatively self-explanatory; you’ll have one or more girls standing around in set locations, and swarms of mini-Kuronas will spawn in an attempt to attack them. Fend them all off before any of the girls are defeated and you win. These stages are a good opportunity to rack up some points by capturing demons — but they also demand good power management of the Demon Sweeper, since there are no random girls to shoot and recharge it.
Boss fights are fairly similar to those found in Double Peace in that they’re heavily choreographed, phase-based fights that generally alternate between you having to defend against incoming attacks and unleashing as much damage as you can on your opponent. The main difference, as in the shooting stages, is that attacks can come from any angle due to the free movement of your viewpoint. There aren’t many of these throughout the game but they’re enjoyable when they do show up.
And finally, we come to Doki-Doki Mode. As previously noted, rather than this being the glorified “smart bomb” it was in Double Peace, this is now part of the game’s relationship and interaction mechanics, as well as its own dedicated mission type.
But I feel like teasing you a bit, so I’m going to leave you hanging there… next time we’ll talk more about how you can interact with Gal*Gun 2’s appealing cast, how it’s something of a sandbox, “playground” game — and, of course, how lewd things can get when you really bring the Doki-Doki. Please look forward to it, senpai.
More about Gal*Gun 2
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