Despite originally releasing just six years ago, Gal*Gun: Double Peace carries with it a strange aura of a long-lost Japanese retro game. There’s a very good reason for this – it came from a completely different era, back when a shrinking domestic console market led to publishers doubling down on erotic-themed releases that would guarantee a small, but enthusiastic, audience of gal game fans. Sony’s PlayStation Vita was the last hold-out in sustaining this market, and fittingly, it is where Gal*Gun: Double Peace originally debuted.
Of course, the subsequent quick success of Nintendo’s Switch has made for a market that is quite different today. But there is always room for more Switch ports from any era, and Gal*Gun: Double Peace is the latest to arrive this week, courtesy of original developer Inti Creates.
Given the screenshots on this page, you’d be forgiven for concluding that Double Peace is just a bad game hiding behind an unashamedly perverse concept and reams of unsubtle fanservice. While that was indeed the case with its disappointing sequel Gal*Gun 2, with this older title it couldn’t be further from the truth. Double Peace continues to stand out as one of the better on-rails shooters to emerge after the death of the genre at the hands of modern televisions.
Gal*Gun: Double Peace puts you in the shoes of luckless, by-the-numbers student Houdai, who suddenly awakens after abruptly being shot by a cupid’s arrow. The catch is said arrow was carrying a super-strong dose of love magic, causing all his classmates to collectively lust after him. Things only escalate from there, but the premise is simple: You’ve got until the end of the day to find your one true love, lest you become eternally cursed.
This is a game that wears its crazy setting on its sleeve with no compromise, but despite the absurdity of it all it also happens to be a great fit for an on-rails shooter. The school grounds are architecturally dense, providing both open areas and cramped confines for you to fend off hordes of enemies.
Your weapon – a gun that shoots pheromones – is another crazy addition of top of many, but it’s also an example of how the fanservice-heavy theme of the game has allowed the developers to approach the genre in a creative way.
The gun’s scope attachment lets you peek through opaque objects, you see, and while there is One Very Obvious Reason why this was included, the designers have thought beyond the fanservice, using its window into the unseen as a means of hiding secrets and enemies behind certain parts of the game’s environments.
Developer Inti Creates also clearly understand the arcade heritage of the on-rails shooter. This isn’t a bloated, long adventure like the 10-hour long Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, instead opting for a much shorter running time; one that’s designed to be replayed through the inclusion of multiple routes and endings.
Overall, Double Peace’s many short stages provide the quick thrills the genre is known for – faster moving sections require a keen eye for enemies and secrets, while slower, more stationary sequences force you to play defensively. There’s rarely a quiet moment, forcing you to maintain careful accuracy if you’re in pursuit of a good score.
At the same time, however, Double Peace’s melding of the gal game genre with on-rails shooter creates an odd balance between the immediacy of its arcade roots and the slower pace of its story trappings. In particular, you’ll need to attain good or true endings with your chosen love interest in order to unlock some of the extra routes through the game, putting dialogue choices at even importance as skilful shooting as far as determining what ending you get.
This isn’t bad in itself â€“ in fact, Double Peace represents a rather competent mix of two genres â€“ but it also means if you’re not interested in all the characters, you probably won’t care enough to replay the game subsequent times to get the good endings and unlock more routes in score attack mode.
The school setting, too, doesn’t offer enough visual variety to clearly separate all of the game’s many routes from one another – you can only go through so many corridors, staircases, courtyards, libraries, and rooftops before it all begins to blend together. The backgrounds just don’t weave an adventure together in the way classics like House of the Dead 2 and Ghost Squad did. Double Peace instead has to rely on its dialogue sequences for that, but they lack the brevity of its gameplay.
Here we’re looking at a brand-new port to the Nintendo Switch, and unfortunately, there are no snappy motion controls to finally replicate the light-gun experience, similar to how its predecessor on PS3 featured PlayStation Move support. Double Peace on Switch is unfortunately a bare-bones port of the original game; outside of included DLC there’s no new functionality to utilise the Joy-Con or Pro Controller’s gyroscopes like how mouse controls were added to the PC port.
It’s not an outstanding port on a technical level, either. Character shadows have been downgraded to simple circles, docked mode outputs the game at the same resolution as playing in handheld, and it targets the same 30fps target as the original Vita release. Sure, the Switch actually maintains that 30fps all the time, but it’s hard to believe it couldn’t have done better considering the simplistic visuals relative to other Switch releases on Unreal Engine.
All in all, then, Gal*Gun: Double Peace is an accomplished on-rails shooter wrapped up in an unabashedly crazy premise. Importantly, it continues to live up to its legacy as one of the last of a dying breed of unapologetically niche games made amidst a declining Japanese home console market.
Gal*Gun: Double Peace is out 17th March on Switch.