Review – Gal*Gun: Double Peace (Switch)
The Nintendo Switch has become a safe haven for the titles that, previously, would have raised a massive number of eyebrows across the globe. Coming from a perceived “family-friendly” console, people often forget that Nintendo’s roots were all about the bizarre and questionable games that got released, specifically on the NES during the heyday of unlicensed games. One only has to do a quick search to see that Bubble Bath Babes, while not a top seller, was definitely something where pixelated boobs were the reward for mediocre puzzle work, and that was in an era where adult films were either rented out on video games or watched in seedy movie theaters next to Paul Reubens.
As the new otaku successor to the Vita, the Switch is where you go for anything that makes you say “Is that really okay to play in public?” The answer is yes, people of the world: Gal*Gun: Double Peace is now available for all Switch fanboys.
This shouldn’t be Earth-shattering; this isn’t even the first Gal*Gun title for the Switch. With Gal*Gun 2 and Gal*Gun Returns having already made their splash onto the console, the Nintendo fanbase is already well versed in the off-kilter game of shooting girls to defend yourself from an onslaught of love. Yet Double Peace is a fantastic title unto itself that, while still being a strange pot of chicken to observe, is fundamentally different from the others.
The setup is wonderful: a wayward angel Ekoro is ready to graduate from her angel school and has only one last task to do so: to shoot a lonely boy with her magical pheromone gun in order to awaken his connection with his true love. Unfortunately, Ekoro practices terrible trigger discipline and ends up hitting him with a shot that’s thirty times more powerful than a regular blast, resulting in nearly every female in his school to go head over heels for him in a hyper aggressive way. Suddenly our protagonist (a dude named Houdai) ends up needing to fend for his sanity as he is buffeted by love confessions, tender embraces and screaming proclamations from every angle.
Fortunately, Ekoro has some guns that Houdai can borrow to return the women to their senses…by sending them into an overdrive of ecstasy so that they collapse. Huh. Also, Houdai isn’t alone: he’s assisted by the sisters Shinobu and Maya, who have connections to the mystical realm and can see Ekoro.
They can also see a demon named Kurona who is trying to finish her demon school at the same time, possessing some girls in the school and imbuing them with a frantic, somewhat sadistic lust instead of the regular kind. Houdai has until the end of the day to figure out who his true love is, because a side effect of Ekoro’s shot is now he either finds “the one” or is doomed to be alone forever. This is an all-kind-of-inappropriate title that somehow manages to never cross the line, and, lest we forget, this is the third one on the Switch. People wanted this, and here we are.
If you’re unfamiliar with the gameplay, let me give you a quick crash course in Gal*Gun logic: you play in a rail shooter with limited choices as to where you go in the school. As you move along, girls will pop out of everywhere to come hug you, kiss you, give you letters, yell at you. and more. You have a reticle that you aim around the screen, and you need to find out the weak spot for each target as they appear, shooting with extreme prejudice and accuracy. Hit the right spot and they’ll immediately go into pseudo-orgasmic throes and fall down, ending the threat to your precious virginity and also drastically increasing your score.
You can do wide angle shooting, but you can zoom in to really pinpoint where to shoot. The zoom becomes important once the demonic possessions show up in the third act, as you can’t fend off the girls until you eliminate the mini demons that are hanging around them. Zoom also becomes how you find hidden items throughout the game (bonus targets, hidden girls, lost school IDs for collection purposes) and also how you look through clothing as the camera upgrades. I don’t know what to say to make that better, other than you don’t HAVE to upgrade the camera, so make your own kind of future with this game. Each stage is judged on time, damage and accuracy, so shoot well and shoot critically in order to get the best results and get bonus angel feathers at the end, which are currency for the game.
When you have so much to talk about, it’s hard to say where to start with Gal*Gun: Double Peace. It’s also difficult because this game polarizes people in such a significant way. There are an entire group of people who’ll buy this game no matter what, because they love Inti Creates, they love lewd gaming, and they already owned it on the Vita or PC and want to own it again on the Switch with slightly updated graphics, better animation, and a new way to be shameless.
There are also plenty of people who’ll never even consider looking at this game because of the objectification of women, the extremely questionable choice to use technology to look at (animated) high schoolers in their underwear, and the fact that it means other people will see what they’ve been playing. What it comes down to is trying to distill the elements of this game that make it a game, and what might make curious people choose one way or the other.
Much like Houdai trying to figure out if he’s going to crawl under a series of desks to escape the first year classroom or cut through the girl’s locker room, it’s up to the would-be player to decide if this game crosses the line, rides it, gently caresses it, sort of gives it a smoldering stare, or just straight up goes well beyond the bounds of good taste and actual gameplay based off of what I’ve endured.
First and foremost, I was surprised by the dating element that’s happening in Gal*Gun: Double Peace. Rather than just blasting forward and trying to figure out which hottie will go with you (either willingly or not), you make a decision rather early on about who you realize you’ve been in love with your whole life. It’s surprisingly sweet: you spent your childhood playing with two sisters, and now you’ve come to see them as more than just playmates, but as someone you might want to spend your life with. You can then craft Houdai’s stats as the game progresses through items from the store and strong choices during the mini games to help increase his intelligence, athleticism, style or…lewdness to see how that affects the outcome. Huh. Well, I guess variety is the spice of life.
As it is a Japanese dating simulation in that aspect, you can initially decide if you’re more interested in Shinobu, the older sister who is more mature, a bit more standoffish and also more prone to emotional outbursts, or Maya, the offbeat younger sister who is reserved but honest. They’re only a year apart, so, on paper, it feels significantly less weird. You make textual choices throughout the game on how to interact with them, and their interest in you fluctuates accordingly, so it feels more aligned with classic visual novels with dating elements (though it’s arguably more Sakura in tone than CLANNAD). The ending depends on how successful you are not in shooting the other girls, but in interacting with your chosen one. Aw.
Then all that sweetness goes out the window as the game evolves. You’ll need to take moments to interact with your “chosen” girl in ways that you could never anticipate, like trying to unstick them from a window in a twin stick mini game, or trying to shoot demons of them while they’re in their underwear and talking some classic femdom trash in your general direction.
The one saving grace for Western players is that the chosen girl is not subtitled during these encounters, but they’re what you would expect if you’ve ever played a Flash game with a girl stuck in a window. This is a recurring theme throughout the game where you feel like Gal*Gun: Double Peace reaches a moment of clarity where you can almost see what the game could be, and then it goes flying in the opposite direction to remind you that it really, really wants to be perverted. It revels in it, and the playerbase seems to love it, so there you go.
Those mini games that I mentioned earlier? Dream-like grope sessions. If you’re good enough with your shooting, you end up being able to unleash Doki Doki Mode, where up to three girls at a time enter a timed trance in which you need to discover their best spot for tapping, touching, and rubbing.
If you’ve been privy to Moero Chronicles on the Switch, it’s very similar. You have to keep adjusting camera angles while figuring out just the right spots, and I can’t even type more than that. It’s so bizarre, but it’s also the only way to survive when the density of mobs gets really high. Finishing Doki Doki Mode, either successfully or not, results in an Ecstacy Bomb knocking out everyone on the screen, and it can really buy you some time in later stages. Oh, and good news: the Switch’s touch screen works, so you can really fine tune things if you need to. I can’t believe I played this game sometimes.
But here’s the crazy part: if you can either look past or just accept the perverted aspects of Gal*Gun: Double Peace (and there are a LOT), you find something surprising underneath. This game is, frankly, one of the tightest rail shooters that I’ve played on the Switch. I’m very serious, the development behind Gal*Gun means that there are people out there looking for more than just anime girls in school uniforms and less bouncing around. There’s plenty of that elsewhere on the Internet, anyways.
No, instead, you’ve got this arcade-style game that comes at you with a strange concept and then delivers some incredible fast-reflex gameplay that also asks you to memorize an insane number of details. When Rion Harusame appears, you can get a quick shot to the neck in order to instantly take her out, but Kaho Akagi needs to be shot in the left inner thigh, which is easier if you can see her crouching behind a bush before she pops out. How the hell do you know the difference between these two students when there are seriously more than seventy different, unique characters to deal with? I honestly don’t know, but that’s the level of dedication that people put into games like this.
Speaking of detail and dedication, Gal*Gun: Double Peace also is FULLY VOICED except for Houdai. That means every single character – from the sisters and Ekoro to Yuka Saitou, a random 3rd year girl who works on the school newspaper – has a different voice actress and different phrases. There is literally lore hidden throughout the game that you collect to get further details on each passing person who honestly doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things unless they matter to you. Inti Creates recognizes that people claim even the most innocuous character as their “waifu,” so why not give them something to research instead of crafting head canon?
And of course you want to play it more! You finished Shinobu’s route, time to see what it’s like to try and woo Maya. Were you successful in both, and managed to get the best ending from big and little sisters? Well, why not try and win BOTH OF THEIR HEARTS AT THE SAME TIME? You goddamn manga Don Juan, you can do it! Not satisfied with dating human entities? You keep playing, you can unlock the chance to woo Ekoro or Kurona, or maybe even a hidden third celestial figure hitherto unknown!
Like all Japanese games with branching choices, there are several endings to unlock, not to mention a plethora of additional costumes and accessories to unlock onto the characters themselves. Want everyone to run around in bathing suits? Kimonos? EVERY GIRL IS WEARING GLASSES?? Just keep at it and you’ll eventually alienate everyone outside of Internet message boards and get the game setup of your dreams! I can’t condone dumping that much of your life into something, but damn it if isn’t a possibility!
Before anyone gets on their high horse about me dumping on Gal*Gun: Double Peace, I think it’s important to note that the game itself has plenty of self-aware humor about what it’s set out to create. The writing for the Gal*Gun series has been top notch, always has been, and the jokes and punnery make me chuckle throughout. There’s elements that are stone-faced serious, where they’re trying to explain how to successfully push Shinobu out of a window when her giant butt is stuck, to moments where Kurona can’t stop dropping the word HELL in every sentence she speaks (because, you know, demon).
It’s so silly, but also refreshing that they know the ecchi lines that are being crossed, yet we never go whole hog. For everything that’s happening on screen, there’s no exposed genitals, no deliberate sex acts, not even moments where a character gets sprayed with goo or something. It’s horny, no one’s going to pretend otherwise, but it never goes full H, and I guess that says something.
Lastly, Gal*Gun: Double Peace is just so well done in terms of execution. The movement between areas, even with the rapidly spinning camera moments, is smooth as butter and prevents me from ever feeling motion sick. When characters are talking the mouthwork really syncs well, which seems to be a step up from the Vita version. There’s a lot of animation both in game play and during minor cut scenes, and beautifully drawn stills capture sweet moments (Houdai, Shinobu and Maya as kids) and…other moments (Shinobu attacked by a tentacle monster).
This isn’t some quick and dirty cash grab to get the bucks of the perverts, this is a sincere labor of love, and I see more effort in porting this game to Switch than I’ve seen in several Switch originals and AAA ports. I mean, everyone freaking speaks in this game and no one did in the last Pokémon game. I’m going to let that go eventually, but it’s just a shocking point of comparison.
My final thought is that Gal*Gun: Double Peace is the best one I’ve played out of the series, and I don’t know what that says about me, the world, or anything else. It’s perfectly encapsulated: a full game from start to finish takes a little over an hour, you unlock a ton and it really challenges you to be a good shot. I can see the appeal of Gal*Gun VR and I think I’d give it a try at some kind of gaming event where no one can see what you’re doing.
I explained this game to my wife, plus the fact that three of them are on the Switch, and her biggest complaint was that it took Konami a decade to make the new Tokimeki Memorial: Girl’s Side game, but the titles where boys shoot girls in the boobs come out fast and furious. And you know what? I think that’s a fair argument. I challenge Inti Creates to get to work on a Guy*Gun and help appease both sides of the table. If you can’t shoot a boy in the crotch and get him all hot and bothered, then why do we even pretend there’s equality in the world? Kotodama lets you get boys and girls both hot and bothered, so why pretend it’s a fearful event? Let’s step up lewd games everywhere and get sexy for everyone!
And yes, I will review Guy*Gun. I’m no hypocrite.
While well rendered, this updated Vita port still is a little rough in some places, yet the animation is tight as a drum.
Rail shooting was excellent. Groping high schoolers, on the other hand, less so.
A bouncy soundtrack coupled with a robust voice cast really captured the anime elements.
Fun Factor: 8.0
I gotta be honest, I could keep playing this game for much longer if I wasn’t so ashamed.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Gal*Gun: Double Peace is available now on PC, PS4, PS Vita, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Gal*Gun: Double Peace was provided by the publisher.