There will always come a point where we step back and realize that we’ve crossed some sort of threshold. That the way we interpret or understand things is forever changed, and that life – either in a closed system or in a broader sense – will never be the same. Once, man walked on the moon, and our eyes moved to the heavens with the new question of “is it our future?” The Internet reached a point of critical mass where it became apparent that we were able to touch almost every section of the globe without leaving our homes. And the Nintendo Switch continues to make people say “this isn’t the old Nintendo.” Doom arrived. Skyrim arrived. LA Noire arrived. And, now, in the biggest leap forward yet, Gal*Gun 2 has arrived.This is not the same Nintendo that we grew up with. This is the Nintendo that you occasionally need to play in private.
Gal*Gun 2 is the sequel to the incredibly popular and highly questionable Gal*Gun series from Inti Creates. Though the mechanics are similar, the plot is quite different (if you’ve been following the epic saga of the Gal*Gun titles). You, nameless Japanese high school boy who’s somewhere in the middling range of popularity and attractiveness, have been chosen by heaven to be the earthly possessor of the AR Goggles, a headset that allows you to see angels, demons and the like. Your classmates, all female, are becoming possessed by demons who are overcome with the desire to confess their love, attack you and be all up in your flavor. You need to use the special Pheromone Shot to overpower the demonic presence, and the shot is most effective when it hits them in certain bodily areas. Capture released demons with your Demon Buster (a vacuum, really) and help the angel Risu reach her quota to show Heaven she’s not a total screw up! Oh, and if you don’t finish the quota in time, the goggles stay stuck to your head forever, and Risu can’t return to Heaven, and that’s bad. OH, and there’s a devil who’s specifically at your school to spread evil to the female students and to taunt Risu with bad dialogue and strangely cute antics. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Gal*Gun 2 is a game that wears many, many hats, and they all fit very well in the capacity they work with. On the one hand, this is primarily an on rails, arcade style shooter. Your main gameplay is going to be working through a number of scenes in a scenario, dealing with girls coming at you from all directions. The AI girls have a number of attacks. Some will run right up and hand you love letters. Some will tackle you and try to kiss you. Others will shout things at you from a distance (either adoration or discouragements) and you need to shoot their words out of the sky before they hit you. And still others have a bit of a mean streak, and they’ll slap you, knock you to the ground and then plant a foot on your…chest? The perspective is confusing, but the point is that you can’t take too many hits or the game is over. All you can do is shoot and shoot well to stay alive and keep the girls from overpowering you.
Control-wise, Gal*Gun 2 is a pretty damn competent shooter. You have the ability to double zoom, which works out wonderfully for distant targets (but leaves you at the mercy of girls who sneak in close). The accuracy is fantastic, I never felt like a shot got away that I didn’t flub myself. I did enjoy the fact that, if you sacrifice a few seconds, you can look deep into a girl*s eyes, fill up a heart meter and fire a dokidoki shot that overpowers all girls currently on screen. It doesn’t do a ton for points, but it can help you out if you just want to progress in the level. One of the first things I did, however, was turn off motion controls: I’m just not that accurate, and it felt like I was swinging around wildly during zoomed shots. However, if you’re strong in the motion control game (think ARMS level), you can rack up fast combos by successfully chaining shots to the face and loins (seriously) to maximize your points. Points are helpful in completing the demon busting quota, as well as unlocking decorations for your room (cool), weapons upgrades (cool), and snacks for the girls (what?).
One last note about the game in the shooting aspect: all shooting scenarios fall into three types of missions: attack, defend and treasure hunt. The attack missions are brilliant, straight forward and fun: shoot everything, suck up the demons as best you can and don’t die. You can find plenty of hidden things to shoot (demon statues with bonus demons to bust, pink blobs that give bonus points and Demon Buster charge) and even find hidden perspectives to move to for the next round of shooting, such as under a bench or beneath a manhole cover. Attack is my favorite. Defend is alright, but you really have to be on your A game at all times. Demons will do their best to possess a certain number of girls, and you need to shoot, bust and protect in multiple waves. You will HAVE to do some defend missions, and they only feel feasible after your first Pheromone Shot upgrade. After that, they become the highest potential points getter since you’re busting so many demons at once. The treasure hunt ones are straight up bullshit, and I hated having to do one to progress the main story. Basically, there’s some stuff hidden in the room, you have to find it with your gun/vacuum, there’s a time limit and girls will occasionally bumrush you and you gotta deal with them before continuing. The items you need to find are randomly placed, and they are sometimes in locations that are borderline impossible to get unless you find them first/last. Vacuum up the right amount of stuff, move it just so, shoot at an angle, etc. There was one time where I could SEE the item but could not shoot it because an unmovable box was blocking my angle. It was awful, and I had to do the mission about eight or nine times before finally beating it and moving on.
Besides the shooting, Gal*Gun 2 is all about the interactions with the girls, and now I need to drop all pretense: there’s some pretty perverted stuff in here, from front to back. I could go into great detail about every single aspect that stands out as “questionable” or “suggestive,” but, instead, I present this screenshot, from mid game, with little to no context to best explain how the whole thing feels.
Gal*Gun 2 rides the line wildly and unflinchingly between dating simulator and whatever the hell the game actually is at all times. On the one hand, I do have rapport with Risu, my best friend from school, Nanako (pictured above) and the shut-in next door, Chiru. You have a number of conversational scenarios with them, particularly with Chiru, where the player attempts to help her overcome her agoraphobia and get her out into the real world again. Plus, you can start up friendly relationships with a number of girls whom you rescue in the course of your missions, being able to chat with them and learn more about them.
But any/all dialogue (with the exception of Risu) is started by giving girls snacks, and certain girls respond better to different snacks. Once you enter into dialogue, your choices of what to say are incredibly limited to usually two or three choices, and there’s a ton of times where everything is borderline socially broken. For example, when Chiru offers me a bite of her ice cream, I can either suggest that sharing an ice cream is like a secondary kiss, or that I’d like to lick something else. THAT’S IT. What kind of inability to talk to people is happening with our protagonist? And when I decide to hogtie Nanako and perform an exorcism on her to drive out the demons that might be inside her? There is ZERO option to tell Risu “Hey, this is getting out of hand.” Nope, just merrily keep splashing her till her outfit is more transparent, and then she leaves pissed off for some reason. Women, am I right?
And those are with the girls that actually matter in terms of storytelling. If you just want to creep on chicks, man, Gal*Gun 2 has you COVERED. The girls you befriend from missions? You can call them between missions and tell them to meet you at any part of the school. Then they’ll dress in any outfit you want them to (and there are a lot, and probably more coming if previous Gal*Gun games are indicative). After that, you can stare at them, feed them snacks to chat and build relationships, or you can enter fantasy mode, where you fantasize about the girls being possessed by demons on very specific parts of their bodies. The girls will gratefully move into new poses so that you can get those pesky demons off of them, and, eventually, you’ll shoot off all their clothes save for their underwear. But don’t worry: this was just a fantasy, you just stood in front of them on the school roof, daydreaming about shooting off their clothes while they posed in a swimsuit and waited patiently for your wank dream to conclude.
Gal*Gun 2 knows EXACTLY who their audience is, and it’s almost impossible to avoid getting into situations that are sexual in nature. Demons are hard to vacuum up, so you get an upgrade to the Demon Buster that puts it into hyper suction mode. Awesome! Hyper suction mode also strips off all clothing from girls! Well…ok. You can actually decide what kind of outfits all the girls spawn into depending on location, so you can make it feel authentic (gym uniform for the gym, long sleeved uniform for outside) or you can just get your rocks off (everyone in school issued swimsuits, everywhere, FOREVER!). It never goes further than underwear, but there is a lot of variety in terms of bra and panty sets, and no one seems to know how to coordinate their undergarments. Is that just a thing in Japan tropes that I’m blissfully unaware of, the girls who don’t know that you should match your clothes? This is a game that I had to play on the train to get the full hours in prior to review, and holy crap did I feel embarrassed. Yes, the game is portable, but, regardless of your gaming preferences, you should have the good sense to try and be a bit secluded before you get into the game. Not everyone wants to see it, and, yes, you have a right to play it, but you also have a social contract to not be a creep.
But here’s the crazy part: I kept playing. Because Gal*Gun 2 is pretty frigging fun as well. The shooting aspect is spot on, and it’s frenzied in the best way. Being accurate with hitting the demons and racking up combos is thrilling, and the art style, seriously, is damn cute. The girls are all nice to look at, if you like anime, and the suggestive, sexualized conversations are all one sided, so you can see the girls treat you like a creep most of the time. I was pretty amused when I didn’t have a choice but to take a bunch of photos of my neighbor in a swimsuit because apparently she thought that’s what I wanted and the game wouldn’t let me say otherwise. It’s so broken it’s almost perfect. It runs incredibly well: no matter how many girls were on the screen, I didn’t stutter even in handheld mode. The soundtrack is upbeat and poppy, and the voice acting is spot on. The audio actually pitches and rolls depending on where you’re facing, so I stopped hearing people in one ear when I turned away from them. Inti Creates put a lot of time and effort into making this game be a gangbusters release for the Switch, and between a fair install size (3GB) and the massive amount of fan content, this is a buttered dream of a piece of software, at least from a performance angle.
If you’re looking for a wholesome, honest-to-goodness dating sim, don’t even bother: this isn’t your game. If you want something that you can play with the kids and your mom, you’re barking up the totally wrong tree. If you want a game to teach you how to speak to women, this is also the wrong choice. Gal*Gun 2 is here to let you shoot demons out of girls, look at their panties and offers a New Game+ so that you have all your upgrades, unlocks and girl-bribing snacks. In a world of apologist developers and whiny, hateful non-players, Gal*Gun 2 is an incredibly bold move forward by both Inti Creates and Nintendo, and I can recognize a game that someone’s going to enjoy even if I don’t enjoy it myself. This won’t be at the top of everyone’s wish list, but, for players who like anime chicks, ecchi situations and underwear, Gal*Gun 2 is a hilarious joyride.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.