One HELL of a Sequel
It’s been several years since the prodigies at Inti Creates decided that anime girls and first-person rail shooters went would make an excellent combination (they were right), and the world has been basking in the glory that is the Gal*Gun franchise ever since. You might think that a series like this would get boring after a while, but it doesn’t. After all, I can’t think of any other games that have you fending off hordes of love-struck schoolgirls with nothing more than a pheromone-fueled firearm. Can you? Didn’t think so. If there’s anything that players have come to expect from this series, it’s wacky, fan service-fueled rail shooting action. Not surprisingly, Gal*Gun 2 is exactly that.
Truthfully, Gal*Gun 2 doesn’t try to be anything terribly new. Rather than attempting to steer the series in a different direction, it takes its old formula, tweaks a few things, and gives it back to its players. But that’s okay with a game like this. Don’t get me wrong, variety is good. And this game does try its best to shake things up where appropriate. But it’s important to keep in mind how niche this series is. There’s not much that you can mess with in a Gal*Gun game before it turns into something else. So, keeping that in mind, Gal*Gun 2 does its best to change while also remaining the same. And, in all honesty, it does a pretty great job.
Gal*Gun 2’s story takes a less straightforward, more unique approach than its predecessors. Rather than being a luckless loser desperate to find love, GG2’s protagonist arrives at school one day to find a box sitting on their desk containing a wonky-looking pair of goggles and a gun that looks suspiciously like a hairdryer. After donning their mysteriously appearing VR gear (because why not)? The protagonist is then greeted by the game’s resident angel Eriko who informs them that Sakurazaki Academy is (once again) being plagued by a mischievous demon who is intent on pranking as many unassuming schoolgirls as possible. It makes about as much sense as it sounds. But hey, who cares? Is a narrative really main thing that you’re after with a game like this?
…Okay, that last question might have been a bit harsh. Gal*Gun 2’s story may not be taking home any awards for having the most gripping narrative of 2018, but that doesn’t make it unenjoyable. In fact, Gal*Gun 2 has plenty of charm, and that’s all thanks to its supporting cast. As with previous installations, this game once again features two leading, love-struck ladies for the players to schmooze it up with – your childhood friend turned high school crush Nanako, and the hikikomori-next-door Chiru (who drops a lot of mad truths about gaming, by the way). Personally, Chiru had me once she started talking about the state of modern-day gaming, but Nanako’s no waifu slouch herself. I do wish that this game would have added in a few extra love interest routes, but I can’t knock the quality that was put into GG2’s dynamic dame duo.
Shot Through the Heart
In many ways, Gal*Gun 2 is more of the same rail-shooting doki-doki action that series fans have come to know and love. Its level-based gameplay will once again have players frantically trying to make their way from one part of the school to another, making use of their trusty sidearm to stop the many lovestruck ladies intent on making you into their boyfriend by… well, they don’t die when you shoot them. I’ll just leave it at that. In addition to the Pheromone Shot, Gal Gun VR’s Devil Buster also makes a return, letting players suck up various Mini-Demons attacking the school. It’s also got the ability to completely remove clothing from people. You know, if you like that sort of thing.
Despite being nearly identical to past installations in terms of core gameplay, Gal*Gun 2 does manage to enhance itself in a number of ways. In addition to standard analog controls, GG2 can be completely played using motion control. While motion control can be hit-and-miss sometimes, this game did an absolutely amazing job with it. It’s much easier to aim, and it even gives the game a pseudo-VR feeling (although the game is not VR-compatible). Of course, I can only speak for the PS4 version when it comes to the motion controls. I certainly hope that they’re just as clean and responsive on the Switch, though.
Complimenting GG2’s improved controls is the game’s modified level design. Rather than being forced to look in a single, static direction like in Double Peace, players are able to look in any direction (once again a la Gal*Gun VR. This is, in my opinion, a definite improvement over the old formula. Being able to move in whatever direction you see does wonders for immersion. The need to constantly cover all sides of yourself also adds an extra gameplay challenge. Anime schoolgirls can be pretty dangerous, after all.
In addition to the generous amount of the series’ iconic rail shooting levels, Gal*Gun 2 adds defense missions – in which the player defends groups of girls against incoming Mini-Demon attacks – and what can most appropriately be described as “scavenging” or “hide-and-seek” missions – in which players move around a room, looking for items. Although fun, they lack the same charm as the standard rail shooter missions. And in the case of defense missions, things can get repetitive very quickly. Despite presenting you with (should you choose to play them) dozens of defense missions, all you’re doing is cycling around the same 4 or 5 levels, doing the same exact thing in each one oft them.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention what you could almost consider to be the payoff of the entire game; Doki-Doki Mode. If anything needed an upgrade in GG2, it was this. And I’m very happy to say that it got one. Rather than bringing back that old formula that had players weirdly turning girls around in circles as they honed in on their “sweet spots”, Gal*Gun 2 literally has players performing exorcisms as they search for the spots on their bodies infested by Mini-Demons. The same basic principle applies – you’re shooting a girl with magical pheromones while she tells you how great it feels – but there’s a lot less guesswork involved with this, and it controls much more smoothly. On the downside it is easier, but I guess that doesn’t matter seeing as how the important things are still there. Like gratuitous fan service.
Looking for Love
One of the biggest thing that helps Gal*Gun 2 to stand out as unique is its entirely revamped gameplay flow. Stepping back from its arcade-like setup in which players venture through a pre-defined set of levels, Gal*Gun 2 lets players pick their own path. Simply put, the player has 20 days (2 levels per day) to collect as many Demon Buster Points as possible. At the end of the 20 days, the game ends. This means that a single playthrough of Gal*Gun 2 can span up to 40 different levels. And New Game+ bumps it up to 60. That’s a lot of levels for a game like this. And you can play through all of them if you want to. But it certainly isn’t necessary.
Despite its 40+ level per run potential, the truth is that you’ll most likely only end up playing 10 – 20 per run. That’s because you’re never locked into a single path like you were in the past games. Each story is only around 5 levels individually meaning that, while you can’t get every ending in one run, you can get a good two or three of them. The weird thing about all of this, though, is that the game never tells you that. You’re led to assume that you need to start a new game or NG+ after the credit roll (a ploy which I fell for twice, whoops). I’m not sure if it was set up that way to deter you from getting through everything too quickly. But if it was, they could have just forced you to start a new game instead.
If Gal*Gun 2‘s multi-pathing sounds difficult, don’t fret. I promise you that it isn’t. Barring the main story, all that progression really requires is burying your favorite girl in a mountain of candy. After giving either Nanako or Chiru enough sweets, you’ll enter a cutscene, and will be able to select the next level in their story. In tried and true Gal*Gun fashion, this game’s heroines aren’t the only ones you can woo. Players are able to obtain the phone numbers for any character in the game by completing side-missions, or otherwise fulfilling special conditions. Once you’ve got your girl’s digits, you can woo her with sweets just as easily as the game’s leading ladies — and unlock Doki-Doki Mode for them afterward!
At the end of each day, players are able to return to their room. Acting as a central hub of sorts, players are able to check their Demon Buster Point total and receive prizes based on their rank, chat it up with one of the two main love interests (the other is at school), and, after getting enough points, even decorate their rooms with figurines, posters, and cutouts. You can also invite girls to your room, given that you’ve smothered them with enough junk food. Not much happens while you’re hanging out, but it’s still a neat addition.
More Gal*Gun, More Gal*Fun
I’d be lying if I said that Gal*Gun 2 wasn’t, in some ways, a little cookie-cutter. You’re still running around the same school, avoiding being forced into boyfriend-hood by the same girls, and generally getting into the same kinds of shenanigans. But I say that that doesn’t matter. Gal*Gun 2 knows what it’s good at; providing the player with gals and guns. And sometimes gals with guns. And darn it, it does it so well. Despite any similarity it may have to previous titles, Gal*Gun 2 is an enjoyable, shameless romp through a world of fan service that will have you saying “yes” to its exciting gameplay and uncompromising pandering, and “no” to your own sense of decency without ever once looking back.
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Switch ; Publisher: PQube ; Developer: Inti Creates ; Players: 1 ; Released: April 24, 2018 ; ESRB: M for Mature ; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Gal*Gun 2 given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.