It’s no secret that we love us some Gal*Gun here on Rice Digital, and having the opportunity to return to Gal*Gun Double Peace in particular several years after its original release has had me reflecting on a few things — specifically, why I absolutely adore this game so much, why it will always be important to me, and why I legitimately think it’s an excellent game beyond its lewd novelty value.
I first had the opportunity to play Gal*Gun Double Peace back when it got its first localised release for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita back in 2016 — well before my time here at Rice Digital — and I fell in love with it immediately. It was a game that, I felt, spoke to the exact tastes in gaming that I had been gradually developing ever since deliberately turning my back on most big-name, big-budget mainstream games around 2010 or so.
More than that, though, it seemed like the perfect poster child for a concept I still continue to espouse: that seemingly lewd, ecchi games — the good ones, anyway — are considerably more than just simple titillation. This was an idea that I’d been fascinated with ever since I played my first visual novel back in the late ’90s and, largely unfamiliar with the medium at that point, found myself thinking “good gravy, the Japanese sure put a lot of plot in their porn”.
The Gal*Gun series isn’t porn, of course — but its erotic elements are hard to deny, whether you look on it as a game about perving on schoolgirls or, as one particularly erudite commenter on the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page had it, that rare example of a game that is well and truly about female pleasure. And, true to the theory that was already solid in my mind by this point, Gal*Gun Double Peace — and indeed its successors Gal*Gun 2 and Gal*Gun Returns — is absolutely a game that is about more than simple, immediate sexual gratification. And that is one of many things that makes it so good.
So what I wanted to do today was go through the ways in which the Gal*Gun series — and Gal*Gun Double Peace in particular — has continued to resonate with me over the years. The reasons why, upon acquiring a copy of the Nintendo Switch version to try out, I was not disappointed at having to abandon my progress on the PS4 version and start again, but rather I was excited to begin my journey afresh.
I love Gal*Gun Double Peace for its fond memories
When Gal*Gun Double Peace got its first localised release back in 2016, I don’t mind admitting that I wasn’t enjoying the best situation my life has ever been in. I’d been laid off from a dream job writing for a relatively mainstream games journalism website a couple of years prior — a website where I’d managed to establish a solid reputation as someone who actually gave “otaku games” a chance rather than writing them off as pervy, problematic rubbish — and I’d been struggling ever since.
Throughout 2016, I’d been subsisting on a combination of occasional freelance work and seasonal retail jobs, and it was getting me down a bit. I had been continuing to write about video games in my own free time because it was something I had always enjoyed doing, and I wasn’t going to let something stupid like no-one paying me to do it any more stop me from doing what I love. In fact, video games — and the writing about them — had largely kept me sane over the course of the two years since my last regular “permanent” employment.
As already noted, around about 2010 or so, I came to the conclusion that the “big name” games of the time really weren’t doing much for me, and thus I decided to specifically seek out games that “spoke” to me in some way — which, as it happens, tended to involve cute anime girls in one form or another. I’d found myself enjoying a wide variety of different games that you never heard anything about in the mainstream press — nothing positive, anyway — and, in the course of all that, I really felt like I’d discovered the “niche” that I was interested in in gaming.
Gal*Gun Double Peace dropped right in the middle of all that, and it was the perfect game for me at that time. While I was feeling pretty low about my employment situation, Gal*Gun was a fantastic game to take my mind off all that — because, as we’ll talk about in a moment, it featured both enjoyable immediacy, which helped in the short-term, and long-term appeal that put a smile on my face as I continued to engage with it.
Consequently, while 2016 was not a year I remember especially fondly for general life stuff, it was a great year for gaming for me.
I love Gal*Gun Double Peace for its immediacy
So let’s talk about the elements of Gal*Gun Double Peace that I found particularly striking, beginning with that immediacy angle. Because while Gal*Gun Double Peace is very much a game intended to be enjoyed over the long term, it definitely has an immediate appeal that will draw you in straight away.
This is largely down to the fact that, at heart, Gal*Gun Double Peace is channelling one of the most immediately accessible types of game out there: the light-gun or crosshair shooter. Everyone understands the concept of pointing a thing at another thing and pressing a button or pulling a trigger to make something happen. Indeed, before “video games” were even a thing, companies like Sega and Nintendo made electromechanical light-gun games for people to enjoy, and the first ever games console, the Magnavox Odyssey, featured an optional light-gun attachment.
The difference in Gal*Gun Double Peace and its stablemates, of course, is that they’re completely non-violent games. You’re not pointing a “gun” at people, despite the name of the game; instead, you’re… well, it’s never made entirely clear exactly what it is you’re doing, but through some means of shooting-like mechanics, you’re pointing at girls and making them fall over in quasi-orgasmic ecstasy or, to use the game’s preferred terminology, “euphoria”.
The immediately accessible angle is what caused the original Gal*Gun to be a popular import title for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back when it was first released — even without being able to understand any of the dialogue, you could enjoy the game’s core “shooting” action and get something out of the game.
And, indeed, all Gal*Gun games since the first one have featured a “Score Attack” mode that strips out all the narrative context completely and simply challenges you to battle through either an individual stage or a whole route and score as many points as possible. Just the thing when you’re in the mood for some non-violent arcadey thrills.
I love Gal*Gun Double Peace for its hidden depths
One thing that a lot of people either fail to notice or refuse to acknowledge is that Gal*Gun Double Peace is by Inti Creates, a company known for creating mechanically solid games with excellent design, plenty of longevity beyond simply playing them through once, and significant long-term appeal. And Gal*Gun Double Peace is no exception to this.
After all, while back in the PS1 era, a straight port of a 20-minute arcade light-gun shooter such as Time Crisis was perfectly acceptable to release at full price, 21st century gamers demand more. Frequently. Loudly. And often obnoxiously. So it’s fortunate that Gal*Gun Double Peace provides plenty to do.
On top of the game’s story mode, which features six main endings to pursue — each with “Good” and “True” variants depending on a combination of your score and your responses in the visual novel-esque story sequences — there’s the “Unseen Destiny” mode, which allows you to pursue any of the extended cast members in the game. This mechanics-centric mode brings in elements of classic Japanese stat-raising dating sims, in that in order to woo your lady of choice, your stats will need to be in particular ranges — and then, of course, you’ll still need to attract her attention.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough to keep you busy — there’s over 70 girls in the game, each of whom can be won over in the Unseen Destiny route — every single character in the game has a profile for you to fill out which, as we explain in our guide, requires you to take their measurements, find their student handbook, enjoy “Doki-Doki Mode” with them in three different outfits and successfully woo them. Oh, and there’s a ghost to track down multiple times over the course of the game.
In other words, if you play this as a “once and done” sort of game, you’re missing out on a lot of what it has to offer. And it’s this long-term appeal side of things that at least partly accounts for why I’m still happily playing Gal*Gun Double Peace several years after that initial PS4 version.
I love Gal*Gun Double Peace for its characters
Mostly, though, the reason I keep coming back to the Gal*Gun series as a whole is because of its cast of characters. I adore them. And I’m not just talking about the main cast members, either; one of my favourite things about all three Gal*Gun games is how each and every “random enemy” in the game is their own unique person with their own name and profile.
Even if you don’t pursue them in the Unseen Destiny route, you can learn about them purely from encountering them naturally over the course of the game, and through taking on their “request” side missions in each stage, delivered through the LINE-style SakuraTalk message board between levels. And you’ll actively want to get to know them.
The series’ lore is unexpectedly deep and consistently explored, too. The same characters show up in multiple games, with a few changes along the way — Gal*Gun Double Peace unfolds a year after Gal*Gun Returns, for example, so the latter’s third-years graduate in the intervening time and a new cohort of first-years come in.
And existing characters have their own subtle little mini-arcs, too; in Gal*Gun Returns, we see a bitter rivalry between heroine Aoi’s band LOVE HEARTS and the school’s light music club, for example, while in Double Peace and Gal*Gun 2, we see the aftermath of that scuffle, with light music club leader having joined Aoi’s band.
There are more subtle touches that you’ll only pick up on if you deliberately pay attention to specific characters, too. Maria Natsuki’s endearingly broken Japanese owing to her having grown up in America. Anita Bellman’s frequent referencing of the Moomins, because she’s Swedish. Midori Hanba being obsessed with games and game design to such a degree that she wears Tetris piece hair clips. Teacher Rena Kuribayashi supposedly being an expert in love but having trouble getting her roommate’s cat to accept her. The fact I can rattle off all these characters without having to look them up is testament to the strength of the overall ensemble cast.
I love Gal*Gun Double Peace
I loved Gal*Gun Double Peace when it first released, and I still love it now. And the thing I love about it the most is that everyone can enjoy it for different reasons.
If you want to enjoy it simply as a fun arcade-style game, you can. If you want to enjoy it unironically for its fanservice, you can do. If you want to enjoy it as a satirical, deliberately overexaggerated exploration of fanservice in Japanese popular media, you can do that too. If you want to get to know a vast cast of well-written, intensely loveable characters, you can do that as well.
And if you want to do all of those things? Well, if this game isn’t already in your collection, I have to question your commitment to the cause.
I love Gal*Gun Double Peace. And I suspect I always will.
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