I don’t mind admitting that I absolutely adore the Gal*Gun series. Its three games are some of my absolute favourites in modern Japanese anime-style gaming and, while I love them all to pieces, I will always have a particular soft spot for Gal*Gun Double Peace. You never forget your first, after all.
I first heard about Gal*Gun back in 2011 when the original game first released for Xbox 360. At that point in gaming history in this part of the world, there was still a certain amount of “lol, Japan” going on in the mainstream sector — and a lot of heavily anime-styled Japanese games never came west.
Gal*Gun gained plenty of notoriety for its unusual premise, though — while it resembled classic lightgun shooters such as Time Crisis and The House of the Dead, you weren’t violently blasting your way through hordes of zombies or terrorists. Nope, you were pointing your crosshairs at anime girls, who, rather than keeling over dead when you shot them, would instead collapse in quasi-orgasmic ecstasy.
While the original Gal*Gun wouldn’t come west in an official capacity until 2021’s release of the remastered Gal*Gun Returns, the sequel Gal*Gun Double Peace’s Japanese release on August 6 of 2015 saw developer Inti Creates’ English Twitter account celebrating the new game by politely enquiring if anybody in the west might possibly be interested in seeing Gal*Gun localised “some day”.
“It blew up online!” former Inti Creates producer Matt Papa told us when we spoke to him for the series’ tenth anniversary. “The next day when I came into the office, that tweet had completely obliterated any previous Like and Retweet records we had at that point, and there were articles and forum threads all over the Internet talking about us teasing Gal*Gun. I was floored, to say the least, but not entirely surprised. I knew this love for Gal*Gun was there all along, and now I had some concrete proof to show the people who could do something about it.”
Having always had an interest in the very concept of Japanese dating sims — and unusual games in general — I knew that I wanted to play Gal*Gun right from the moment I first heard about the original game, and was always disappointed that I wasn’t able to play it in English. And as such, when a localisation of Gal*Gun Double Peace was announced, I jumped immediately on it the moment it released in 2016, played it to death and absolutely adored every minute of it.
That was also the first time I encountered western publisher PQube, who have consistently put out a series of localised Asian games seemingly tailored to my exact personal tastes ever since. The company had been around for a while prior to Gal*Gun Double Peace — but for many enthusiasts of Japanese games, it was almost certainly Gal*Gun Double Peace which put them firmly on the map.
So how do I feel about Gal*Gun Double Peace for Nintendo Switch now, six years and two follow-ups later? Of course I still love it. Of course I still love it. So much so that I didn’t even mind starting again from scratch on a new platform; indeed, the moment I got my review copy I sat down and promptly played for several hours without even considering stopping. So let’s talk a bit about why I love it so much.
In Gal*Gun Double Peace, you take on the role of a high school student named Houdai. Much like the first Gal*Gun game’s protagonist Tenzou, Houdai has an unfortunate accident with an angel in the opening moments of the game, which means he is blighted with an aura that makes him irresistible to most women.
Unfortunately, the nature of the way this aura was administered means that he’s effectively ended up with all his possible chances to find true love compressed into a single day, and as such if he doesn’t get together with someone by the time it wears off, he’s never going to get together with anyone. Being a fairly decent sort of chap, though, Houdai figures that he doesn’t just want to get with some random girl who jumps him because of supernatural intervention, and as such he takes aim for the two girls in his life who just happen to be completely immune to his divinely augmented charms: Shinobu and Maya Kamizono.
Shinobu and Maya are childhood friends of Houdai, but over the course of the last three years, they found themselves drifting apart. Maya had been sent away for “family matters”, and in her absence Shinobu had kept her distance from Houdai, despite how close they used to be. As the game opens, Maya has returned — and, since Houdai is already having a pretty weird day, he discovers that the pair of them are actually demon hunters.
Since Houdai’s questionable powers put him in a position where he is able to not only see angel Ekoro but also mischievous demon Kurona — normal humans can’t see either the divine or the infernal — he is in an ideal situation to get closer to the pair of them and perhaps help them out in the process.
From hereon, Gal*Gun Double Peace proceeds down one of several different routes. Initially, you can pick between Shinobu and Maya’s individual routes, with the eventual aim being to end up with one of them. Clear one route, and you unlock the Angel and Devil route, which allows you to get to know both Ekoro and Kurona a bit better.
Clear both of the Kamizono routes, meanwhile, and you can unlock a harem-esque ending where Houdai gets together with both of them. And clear all the routes and you get the True Love route, where you can simply blow off the entirety of the main cast and attempt to get together with any of the vast number of girls in Gal*Gun Double Peace’s extended cast.
Each route in Gal*Gun Double Peace unfolds as a series of action stages, in which Houdai proceeds through an environment on “rails”, occasionally making a choice of route. As you progress through the stage, you’ll come under attack from the extended cast, who will launch themselves at Houdai in various ways in an attempt to claim him for themselves.
The only option is to fend them off with a “Pheromone Shot”, which can either be used to simply blast away at the girls or, more efficiently, hit them right in their weak spots, which are revealed by a coloured bit of Japanese onomatopoeia appearing when your cursor is in the right place. Red for head, orange for chest, yellow for waist, pink for legs — simple and clear once you learn the pattern, allowing for immensely satisfying chains of “Ecstasy Shots” as you take down hordes of girls in one shot each.
Houdai also has access to a charged shot, which can stun girls in an area on the screen, and Doki-Doki Mode, which gradually charges up as he successfully defeats girls. Doki-Doki Mode allows Houdai to transport up to three girls into a pink and fluffy parallel dimension, at which point you can poke and prod them in various places until they explode in euphoric frenzy, making the titular “Double Peace” gesture in the process. And I really do mean they explode; a successful Doki-Doki Mode acts as a “bomb” that can clear out a large area of girls in one go.
During the action stages, you can find a bunch of hidden items. Prior to each stage beginning, you can check the school’s “SakuraTalk” message board to find sidequests, which usually involve finding specific characters or items concealed in the stages.
There are also student and teacher handbooks scattered around the levels, which allow you to fill out the character profiles of each and every character in the game. By making use of the zoom function, you can take every character’s “three measurements” — an important part of filling out those profiles in their entirety. And there’s even a ghost girl lurking in numerous stages — you can get her profile, too.
Between the main action stages, you’ll encounter visual novel-style dialogue sequences, during which you’ll have the option to respond in several ways according to Houdai’s personality stats. These stats can be manipulated either through Doki-Doki Mode, or through a shop that appears between levels; when playing the basic story mode, it’s simply beneficial to get them high enough to unlock all the dialogue choices, but in the True Love route, you’ll need to manipulate them a little more carefully.
You’ll also encounter Events, which are special sequences that usually involve getting vaguely intimate with one of the main cast members in some way. The most famous of these is, of course, Shinobu in the Window, in which our heroine is locked in a gym closet and attempts to escape through the window, only to find herself stuck. By “shooting” targets and giving her a good shove and tug, you’ll eventually be able to help her out, but not before you’ve had a right eyeful.
And, on top of that, there are a series of boss fights, each of which are highly amusing and mechanically interesting. With a demon on the loose, things occasionally get extremely chaotic, as you can probably imagine — and these boss fights make up some of the most enjoyably silly moments in the routes’ various stories.
As you can see, there’s a lot to do in Gal*Gun Double Peace, even with it being an arcade-style rail shooter at heart. Inti Creates knew that a simple, straightforward arcade game a la Time Crisis or The House of the Dead wouldn’t fly with a modern gaming audience, who want plenty of value from their games — and as such there’s a ton of incentive to replay Gal*Gun Double Peace, whether it’s simply chasing high scores in the Score Attack Mode, attempting to unlock all the True endings, or doing your best to systematically date your way through the entire extended cast on the True Love route.
The characters are loveable, the mechanics are solid, the visual design is distinctive and immediately recognisable, the music is inordinately catchy and, most of all, the game comes across as having been designed with real, genuine love and affection for both the player and each and every one of its characters. There are no “generic enemies” in Gal*Gun Double Peace; every single character has their own name, personality and sense of identity, and gradually getting to know them all is a real pleasure.
Yeah. I still love Gal*Gun Double Peace. And with this new Nintendo Switch release, the entire series is now available physically on a single platform. So if you’re yet to enjoy the thrill of being hit by an angel’s arrow that is thirty-two times more powerful than it was supposed to be, there’s no better time to get involved. Shinobu and Maya are waiting. So are Kurona and Ekoro. And Patako. And Tsubomi, Anita, Saki, Riko, Maria, Aoi, Hayari, Mikoto, Junko, Kaho, Rikiko, Ruriko, Mei, Kazami, Mako, Mirai, Ringo, Mafuyu, Sayu, Yuyu…
Gal*Gun Double Peace is out now for Nintendo Switch on the eShop, or you can order the physical Horny Trinity Edition here. The PlayStation 4 version and Steam release are also still available. Thanks to PQube for the review copy.
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