Game: Gal*Gun Returns
Release Date: February 12, 2020 (NA)
System: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Adventure, Action, First-Person, Arcade
Developed by: Inti Creates
Published by: PQube
Review Code: Yes
Reviewed by: Priscilla W.
Gal*Gun Returns is a remake of Inti Creates’ original title Gal*Gun first released in 2011 for the Xbox 360. The bishōjo rail shooter series has made quite the name for itself over the years and I had no idea what to expect as I jumped into the series.
Gal*Gun Returns remake boasts a cast of over seventy girls – including many that have been graphically updated to look even cuter than before. If you have played the original you might notice small changes to certain girls such as clothing or hairstyles. Also newly incorporated are brand new CG scenes introducing the main girls at the beginning of the game as well as throughout the story. The game also comes preloaded with a plethora of DLC to get you started on your panty shooting adventure.
The story begins with Tenzou -an ordinary school boy with seemingly no luck with the ladies- being shot by cupid-in-training, Patako. Patako had a slight accident and instead of shooting Tenzou once; she sends an array of arrows his way causing all women around him to confess their undying love for him. To make things worse, Patako tells Tenzou that this mistake means that this day is the only day that women will be interested in him and if he does not find a girlfriend today he will be alone for the rest of his life. Quite the mess up!
As the game is an on-rails shooter; each stage has Tenzou walk along a set path. He encounters girls along the way that he has to shoot with a ‘Pheromone Arrow’ to stop them in their tracks as they enter a euphoric haze of sorts. This prevents the girls from attacking him with love letter confessions, flying words and other love-obsessed attacks that deplete Tenzou’s health points. Running out of health points means it is game over and the player has to repeat the segment that they died on. Each girl has a weak point on their body that when hit results in an ‘Ecstasy Shot’. A one-hit kill similar to a headshot in traditional shooting games. The player will find that not all of the girls are the same and not all shots to the crotch will result in an ‘Ecstasy Shot’. The game guides you to the correct position as when you hover over the correct body part, 「ハッ」 and 「キュン」will appear telling you that is the right place to shoot.
Once you have satisfied enough girls you can choose a girl to enter ‘Doki Doki Mode’ with. This mode allows you to have a close up 360 degree view of the girl as you shoot her in the most pleasurable places to fill up the gauge completely before the timer runs out. Depending on the chosen girl; some are incredibly into this and begging you to have a good look at them and others not so much. This element of the game is without a doubt the most intimate with fanservice being the aim of the game. With that said, other than the incredibly pornographic moans coming from the girls themselves; they are all clothed and the most that you will see is a potential panty flash.
Of course these run-of-the-mill girls are not enough for the main character and that is the purpose of the story itself. At the beginning Patako asks Tenzou who his ideal girlfriend would be out of four possible options. Each girl has their own individual story that you play through with only one similarity – they just are not that into you. Patako’s mistake had no impact on your chosen girl and with only a day to find a girlfriend or be alone forever it is do or die. Tenzou sets out to have the chosen girl fall in love with him. Which is no easy feat as her heart is protected and he has to break through to win her over. During his journey there will be many situations with his chosen girl that are mini-games of sorts. Doing well in them -as well as the boss fight at the end- raises her affection for him resulting in the awarded ending. The girl will also ask Tenzou questions and depending on his answer will increase or decrease her affection for him. If you remember what kind of personality the girl has when you picked her at the start; the questions are generally easy enough to get through without permanently damaging the relationship!
Gal*Gun Returns definitely shows its age when it comes to level design. Most levels are rather dull and empty – other than the girls inside of them. Almost like generic high school anime stills. The girls do bring it to life somewhat due to their peppy personalities and individualism. Even when wearing different colored versions of the same uniform, teachers outfit or swimwear – most girls are able to be differentiated still due to design, name and voice-acting. Allowing the player to develop favorites through the necessary playthroughs if one wants to experience all of the routes and endings as well as unlocking gallery pictures, the other game modes and seeing all of the different panties if you do so desire.
The other modes in Gal*Gun Returns are Score Attack mode which allows the player to practice a level repeatedly until they are proficient and scoring high. The other is Doki Doki Carnival. Which, you guessed it, is focused on Doki Doki mode. However, in this instance you can have up to seven girls at the same time as opposed to the singular girl in the main game. This mode also gives you a deeper insight into the individual girls and allows for customization.
The opening song for Gal*Gun Returns is rather catchy and reminiscent of anime of yesteryear. The song is titled “Illumination Love Returns” and is performed by Haruka Miyake who one might also recognize as one of the main girls from the game – Kaname Nonomiya. Other than the opening theme, the music itself is not memorable and upon completion of the game I really had no tracks that I would want to listen to again independently of the game.
Gal*Gun Returns is a surprisingly enjoyable title on the Nintendo Switch. Despite not being a part of the obvious intended audience of the game; I still enjoyed my time with it after putting my child to bed first. The fanservice is definitely a heavy aspect of the game but in this title it is rather tame compared to more recent experiences of fanservice. Gal*Gun Returns is an enjoyable, lighthearted, anime-esque game which both fans of on-rail shooters and cute anime girls can appreciate. It is a whole lot of fun and it does not take itself seriously which is something that is appreciated now more than ever.