[Note: Due to the fanservice-heavy nature of this game, some of the images in this article may be considered NSFW]
I’ve played many (or, as my parents may argue, too many) video games during my twenty-six years on this planet thus far. I’ve experienced a little bit of just about everything out there in the medium, to the point where there isn’t much that takes me by complete surprise anymore.
Two weeks ago, though, I was completely blindsided by a game.
Sure, I’ve played through and reviewed a number of wacky and nonsensical games, and have even enjoyed quite a few of them. However, each of them had some kind of grounding in familiarity, and didn’t tread too far into full-on whistle-blowing insanity.
Enter Gal*Gun: Double Peace. The kind of game that elicited a flat “What.” response from me upon first hearing of it. It’s a light-gun-style game, a genre that’s already pretty much dead outside of arcades. Add on to that, though, the premise: fending off waves of high school girls that are in love with you by shooting them with a gun that brings them to climax.
If you’re unfamiliar with the title, your reaction to that may be the same that I had. “What.”
Gal*Gun: Double Peace was developed by Inti Creates and was published in the west by PQube. The game was released on August 2nd, 2016 in North America for both the PS4 and Vita. We had the chance to play through both versions, although the focus here (along with the screenshots included in this review) will be the PS4 version.
Every Man’s Dream
In Double Peace you take the role of Houdai, your standard everyday faceless Japanese high schooler. Fortunately, perhaps, for you, today is the day that an apprentice angel named Ekoro is taking her final exam to become a full-fledged angel. To pass her test, she needs to make a human fall in love with someone using her magical love guns (much like Cupid)…and you are her target.
Unfortunately, Ekoro spots a demon from Hell who is also out for her final demon exam…and you’re her target as well! Flustered by this, Ekoro attempts to beat the demon to the punch and fires her love gun at Houdai…realizing too late that the gun’s strength is cranked up to maximum power.
When Houdai awakens from the blast, he finds out that for some reason, literally every girl and woman around him is now in love with him, and they begin persuing him relentlessly. Ekoro appears to Houdai to explain what happened: the super-powered blast means he is now irrisistable to the opposite sex, but only for a 24-hour period, after which nobody will ever be attracted to him again…unless he chooses a girl to be with today.
Luckily, two former childhood friends have recently reentered Houdai’s life, and he has feelings for both of them. However, they both seem to be unaffected by his heightened attractiveness. Despite this, you must choose one of them to persue and make them fall in love with Houdai before the end of the day, whilst fending off the hoards of women trying to confess their love to him.
The story that follows is a long string of absolutely hilarious nonsense that is both extremely entertaining and utterly insane. The plot itself is simple and straightforward, and the main characters are fairly one-note without much development. Despite this, one thing Double Peace has going for it is its tone. The premise is ludicrous, and the game knows it and owns it. It never takes itself seriously, providing a constant stream of comedy gold in between the gameplay segments.
The dialogue choices that occur throughout the game are a major highlight. If you’ve ever wanted to play a sick drum solo on the butt of a girl that’s stuck in a window frame, one simple choice can make your dream come true here.
A Pleasurable Experience
Just as with the story, the gameplay of Double Peace is equally as bizarre (and I’m going to quickly run out of synonyms for “crazy” in this article). The gameplay premise is basically the movie Orgazmo with schoolgirls. Your primary weapon is the “Pheremone Shot,” which you wield against the lustful hoards of women coming after you. Every shot with the weapon brings *ahem* pleasure to your enemies, and enough hits will cause them to…well…climax. Upon which they are considered defeated.
The whole concept is played for laughs rather than titilation, which helps to lower the “awkwardness” of the game system. Of course, though, each girl you encounter has a spot on their body that they like to be hit the most, so if you take your time to aim for this spot, you can immediately finish them off.
You have a couple of other functions available as well. You can zoom in your target reticle with a button press, which allows you to see and attack through some obsticles. Of course, this allows you to get a peek at your enemies’ lingere, if you’re so inclined, but it’s main use is to take out girls who are hiding before they attack, or find hidden items in the environment.
Should you become overwhelmed, you can activate what the game calls “Doki-Doki Mode,” where you select three girls on screen and move them into a separate psychadelic realm where you rub them until they climax. Do it well enough, and when you return to the main environment, they’ll finish off so hard that they’ll stun or eliminate everyone else on screen.
Did I mention this isn’t really a game I’d ever play around family members?
Putting the sexual comedy aside, Double Peace is just plain fun to play. All of the systems work well together, the controls are incredibly tight (although they can take a bit to master), and the difficulty ramps up on a perfect curve. Hunting for hidden items around the environment is surprisingly fun, and balancing collecting these items with keeping enemies at bay provides a decent challenge.
Between the two versions, though, I found the controls of the PS4 version to be much tighter. I had a more difficult time pulling off accurate shots on the Vita version, and the smaller screen made the environment feel a bit too cluttered. On the other hand, though, the Doki-Doki Mode works much better on the Vita, as you actually have a touchscreen to use, rather than having to move a cursor around the screen on the PS4 version. Certain other events also require touch input, which the PS4 tries to accomplish using the small touch pad on the controller, resulting in some awkward input motions.
Also of quick note, the Vita version of Double Peace takes an absurdly long time to boot up. Multiple minutes from pressing the “Start” tile to the game even starting to show the developer splash screens. The PS4 version has no issue with this, booting up near immediately.
Smooth and Silky
Take an “ok” comedy or harem anime and make it three-dimensional, and you have the artstyle of Double Peace straight up. Bright, solid colors with fairly typical anime character designs look good, but they’re nothing to really write home about. The environments are the same way: designed well, but not very detailed or impressive.
Everything about the artstyle here is enough to get the job done, and for the type of game presented, it really is enough. My only complaint here would be the repetitiveness of environments; since most of the game takes place inside of a school, the areas you explore aren’t all that varied.
One thing I would like to highlight is the fluidity of the animation on the PS4 version. The game runs at 60FPS on this system, making all of the scene transitions and animations incredibly smooth and attractive to the eye. The few cutscenes sprinkled here and there throughout the game look excellent as well. Admittedly the actions and animations of the characters are very much “overacted,” but for a comedy game, it fits.
The Vita version lacks this smoothness, and in fact, suffers from dropped framerate fairly regularly. It wasn’t so bad as to negatively affect the gameplay, but after experiencing the PS4 framerate, I found it hard to go back to the handheld version.
Ham It Up
The soundtrack of Double Peace is almost entirely bubblegum poppy synth music. It fits the tone of the game quite well, and some of the tracks have a terrible habit of worming their way into your head. I can’t consider that a positive personally, as I’m not really a fan of the soundtrack. Then again, soundtrack styles that I prefer (rock, ambient, orchestral, etc) have no place in this game…upbeat synth pop is really the only thing that matches.
Every character, save for player character Houdai, is also fully voiced. The voice acting is only available in Japanese, and the actresses do a great job at chewing the scenery with their performances. The actions and emotions of all of the characters (save for one who is nearly always stoic) are taken up to 11, performed in full-on hammy goodness. The acting really does help to reinforce the comedic tone and keep things constantly lighthearted.
Overall, Gal*Gun: Double Peace is a hilarious, entertaining, awkward romp that I would only play around like-minded friends. After all, just the game’s basic premise is more than enough to turn heads. To be honest, I don’t think I would’ve even given this game a chance if it wasn’t passed to me for a review. Having played it, though, I would say passing it up would have been a mistake.
The plot and characters aren’t deep or complex in any sense of the word, but the dialogue and interactions more than make up for it. More than that, the game is just plain fun to play, and I can’t say I was ever bored with it, even after having to replay several missions after forgetting to save near the endgame once.
Needless to say, this is most definitely not a game for everyone. The plot is a long string of sex jokes, and the gameplay is downright perverse. If you go in knowing to not take it seriously, though, you’re going to have a great time.
Between the two versions, I would highly recommend checking out the PS4 release. Despite the awkward touchpad controls during certain moments, the game is much less cluttered on a larger screen, and the framerate is beautiful. If you only have a Vita, though, the handheld version is more than serviceable.
~ Final Score: 8/10 ~
Review copy provided by PQube for PS4. Screenshots both taken by reviewer and sourced from official game website.