Inti Creates’ 2011 on-rails ecchi shooter Gal*Gun, a bishōjo game that has only ever seen the light of day in Japan, finally makes its way onto western consoles in this remastered edition that comes complete with dolled-up visuals, full voice-acting and all previously released DLC. But does it improve on the decidedly-average Gal*Gun 2? No, not really.
In Gal*Gun Returns, you assume the role of Tenzou Motesugi, a lad who’s fairly unpopular with the local ladies – until one day he’s accidentally shot with over fifty pheromone arrows by Patako, an apprentice cupid angel and major league klutz who’s really struggling to complete her angel school assignments. With this insane amount of pheromones now coursing through his cursed body, Tenzou becomes a target for the out-of-control lust of every single female in Sakurazaki Academy, and must use a pheromone gun to overload incoming girls with excitement, dropping them to their knees in ecstasy so he can make his escape.
Gal*Guns Returns’ story mode sees Tenzou blast his way through the dull, lifeless interiors and exteriors of Sakurazaki in a super basic on-rails fashion, shooting at pupils and teachers alike as they pop out from around corners and throw themselves at him with love letters in hand. As well as surviving this onslaught over a handful of extremely samey and unchallenging stages, Tenzou must also choose from one of four “true love” girls as he starts out on his campaign who he will attempt to successfully make fall in love with him through a series of very basic dating sim aspects and mini-games that are dotted throughout proceedings.
As you walk around a school shooting teenage girls and their teachers here, as you scroll your gun’s target over them, you’ll see icons pop up in certain areas of their bodies; hit these targets and you’ll perform an ecstasy shot, downing them in one and adding to a little gauge that, when full, enables you to enter “Doki Doki” mode. Here you can rotate and tilt a 3D model of the girl you’ve activated Doki Doki on and the objective is to use the ZR button to zoom in on areas of her body and take a shot.
The longer you stare at any one area the more aware she’ll become, attempting to block your view by covering up. But that’s OK! Because if she blocks you as you stare at her rear end, for example, you can just turn her around and stare somewhere else that makes her nervous and uncomfortable. Successfully pulling off shots in this mode fills another gauge which, when full, throws the unlucky lady into a fit of orgasmic ecstasy, with the knock-on effect of taking out all the girls in her proximity once you resume normal shooting action, like some sort of orgasm grenade… or… something.
All of the shooting here – and it’s literally all mindless, repetitive shooting – is accompanied by an endless soundtrack of girls moaning and climaxing, a bit of an awkward audio backdrop when you live with other humans, and one that saw us turn the sound off completely for most of our runs through the game because it’s just too much to listen to – a bit of a shame as this updated version features fully-voiced ladies for the first time.
Gal*Gun Returns also features a gallery where you can go and view models of girls who you’ve bested in Doki Doki mode. Freed from the constraints of having to shoot them, here you can zoom in, out and around their bodies at your leisure, turn on a little fan so their skirts lift up or even push a button to make their boobies jiggle.
All of this stuff aside, whether or not you’re into this type of game or not, the fact is that on a mechanical level, this is a seriously dull and basic on-rails shooter that’s neither fun nor challenging. There are four different routes through the campaign depending on which “true love” you choose to woo, there’s a Doki Doki Carnival mode that lets you enter Doki Doki with multiple girls at once, and a score attack mode thrown in for good measure – but all of it is so lacklustre, so repetitive, old-fashioned, unchallenging and short-lived (you can rinse the campaign’s four routes in as many hours) that it’s almost unbelievable that it’s being sold at the hefty price it is.
In terms of controls, you can use the left and right shoulder buttons to slow down or speed up how your aiming reticule moves around the screen as the game auto-drags you around its dull locales but, to be honest, this doesn’t really help matters when things get busy as it’s hard to centre your target precisely over the spot on a girl’s body that grants you an “ecstasy shot” when they are charging you in groups. This game really needed gyro controls in order to at least make its dull shooting feel a little bit more responsive but, given the lack of care shown to all other aspects of the actual gameplay here, it’s no surprise that they aren’t included.
If the on-rails action was actually good here, if the campaign made any sort of an effort by adding even basic, expected stuff like multiple paths through an area, variety in enemies and attacks or just any sort of surprises or challenge whatsoever, we might be able to summon some sort of half-hearted positivity towards the whole endeavour – but it doesn’t. Beyond the cringe-worthy “titillation” aspects of what’s going on here, there really is nothing else; it’s a short, shallow, mechanically basic yawn-fest that’s neither worth your time, attention or the column inches its banning from Xbox consoles has generated.
Gal*Guns Returns is a so-so remaster of a tedious on-rails shooter that features dull, unchallenging and highly repetitive action set against a cringe-worthy story that’s neither titillating or in any other way engaging. This is a very short and basic game for the asking price, and one that it’s hard to see anyone outside of hardened (no pun intended) Gal*Gun fans deriving even the slightest amount of enjoyment from.