What a time to be alive when something like Gal*Gun 2 gets a sizeable release on multiple consoles in its native language. While it may have a number two numeral on it, it is actually the third entry in the series. As of this review, the original PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 game has yet to be localised and only Gal*Gun: Double Peace and this latest sequel have made it to the West. Society at large seemingly has matured and has embraced game types of all varieties as of late, paving the success of many visual novel franchises, the Neptunia series and even fan-service centric action games like School Girl Zombie Hunter and Bullet Girls. With so many options available today, a gamer could drown in a proverbial ocean of possibility and never find the right kind of fan-service that is right for them. Grab a box of tissues, lean back in a comfy chair, polish that analogue stick, and relax as Cubed3 – after tackling the Switch edition – reviews Gal*Gun 2 for PlayStation 4.
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Inti Creates has a very unusual list of projects it has developed. From a couple of numbered Mega Man games, many spin-offs with Zero and ZX; Inti Creates was also commissioned to develop the knock-off with Mighty No.9 and even created its own with two Gunvolt releases. It wouldn’t be the last time, either, since it also is the developer for Bloodstained and its 8-bit style prequel, Curse of the Moon. It is safe to say that Inti Creates’ bread and butter is the 2D action genre. It is the company’s element and is what it has been good at for the better part of 20 plus years. This makes the Gal*Gun series a bit unusual for it since these are fully rendered in 3D and are rail shooters with some elements of dating game mechanics. Clearly, one of these is not like the other.
Inti Creates has been around due to its mostly good 2D action games. For it to deviate into such strange territory where Gal*Gun exists suggests that it has been a passion project for someone within the team. It is apparent that these are pandering to a very specific and delicious fetish, but underneath the panty-shots, thigh-highs, and dirty-pillows, there is surprising attention given to the story. Believe it or not, Gal*Gun 2 actually does have a well-thought out story, with several character arcs and branching story paths. Even more amazingly is that they are handled with genuine heart and care. There is no irony here at all; the story really does try to have meaningful revelations and manages it all while having a sense of humour. Gal*Gun 2 does not take itself too seriously, but it does understand tone and timing well enough that characters are depicted earnestly.
Without spoiling too much of the plot, Gal*Gun 2 turns a lot of the previous game’s story conventions on its head. There is a twist that ends up having a fallen angel be a dating option and another girl who gradually transforms into a demon. The way the revelations play out is handled in a cheeky way. It is refreshing in concept but the budgetary limitations are felt and the liberties with the localisation tend to lean more towards bizarre comedy and obscure references. The way the story events play out is not the best. They are downright cheap in most regards. The budget was probably not much when Gal*Gun 2 was being developed, as most of the assets are recycled from past games. Animations, environments, character models… barely any of it is original, and it hurts the experience. Characters suffer especially since it is obvious that Inti Creates only had one basic body type, face, and character rig, so now every character feels like they were made in a very cheap editor.
The dating sim elements are all here to give Gal*Gun 2 some extra life to its core gameplay, which is the rail-shooting. In its homeland, Gal*Gun 2 is actually called Gal*Gun VR, which makes a lot of sense given how so much of it feels more like an expanded greatest hits and that it was so painfully meant to be played with PSVR. The appeal of rail-shooters is having pointing controllers like a Wii Remote, Guncon or any kind of controller where the object is to aim. Gal*Gun 2 is best played with a VR headset that tracks head movement for aiming; like being Cyclops from the X-Men but instead of optic-blasting Magneto, Tenzou is shooting girls with pheromones. Playing without a VR headset is doing Gal*Gun 2 a disservice and plays so boringly generic. Gameplay is reduced to dragging a cursor on-screen and tediously mashing the fire button. In other first-person shooters, this could be exciting since there is usually tactical movement or other abilities. This is just a rail-shooter, so the only thing to be concerned with is aiming and without the tacticity of physically pointing, there is nothing. Even the famous massage or “getting stuck in a window” mini-games just have no impact or meaning without VR.
Getting panty-shots is like eating pie. Sure, it is amazing and it is something one hopes for… but getting it all the time would become boring and eventually it loses the allure. For the first few minutes it’s awesome to see the promised land, but then it turns out there is nothing special about any of it because all these girls look the same and outside of some flavour text, only the main girls have personalities. A bit more restraint or creativity to make panty-shots more meaningful would have been appreciated. There is one moment in particular that involves a panty-shot and it could have been a real sweet and emotional moment but it is totally undermined by the absurd overload during the core game.