Short Version: It’s alright. It’s not great, but it’s definitely not a bad game either. If you love fan service like I do, then you’ll like it, but it’s pretty tame on that front as well. The art style is great, but music is generic and forgettable. The story is lighthearted and fun, though a bit bland at times. Even then, it has some pretty pleasant surprises scattered all around that are worth seeing at least once. Go get it if you ever find it on a sale for a discounted price, or you can even rent it, which I think might be better.
Long Version: When I played the Japanese demo for Gal Gun: Double Piece on my PS Vita, I had a pretty good time, but I felt that the time I spent with it was a good enough fill for me. Because of this, I wondered if there was more to the full game than this very simplified and relatively slow on-rails shooter featuring high school girls getting shot with pheromones until they reach euphoria. After playing the game for a good while now, and beating it multiple times, I can say that there are a couple things here that might keep you interested, but most of the game is repetitive and a little dull after a while.
Locked And Loaded
Gal Gun: Double Piece is the sequel to the original PlayStation 3 Japanese game Gal Gun, which never came out in North America. Minus a couple references to past events sprinkled around the game, you don’t need to play it in order to understand what’s going on in the sequel. Basically, you are a faceless, voice actor-deprived high school student that gets shot with an overdose of love arrows by the angel Ekoro. Thanks to this, every single girl in school is in love with you, but it comes with a catch. If you can’t find your true love by sundown, you are destined to be lonely and unloved forever. That’s basically what the story boils down to, with not a lot of complexity beyond that.
When it comes to Double Piece’s narrative, it is very entertaining to see that it doesn’t take itself seriously in any way; and when it does, it usually makes sense and makes those particular scenes slightly more memorable, though that may be me being a bit too generous. If you are a fan of anime in general, you’ll be pretty well versed in the types of clichés and stereotypes you tend to come across on a regular basis, which happen to be fully present in Double Piece. While the cast isn’t particularly large, all the characters can be traced back to some sort of stereotype save for some subtle changes and differences. However, these small surprises in the story are not enough to truly make these characters shine in the way that I can totally see, had they not relied on such tired templates. On the other hand, if it weren’t for those things, the comedic and lighthearted atmosphere probably would not have worked if the story got too complex or crowded in conflict; so in a way, I can forgive that. These are very simple love stories, which I can appreciate to a certain extent, since none are drowned in the typical melodrama that most anime series might have, in favor of a much more comedic and banter-focused approach.
The Only Kind Of School Shooting I’m Okay With
While you’re not busy going through visual novel-style dialogue scenes and making dialogue choices that will affect your standing with all the girls, you’ll be shooting pheromone shots at all the high school girls who want a piece of you, which is pretty fun, but it gets repetitive after a while. It is pretty entertaining seeing all of these anime high school girls fall over with pleasure or find different ways to reach you with comedic effect, but after a while, you’ve seen it all and wish for something new to happen. Going back to my experiences with the Japanese demo, I remember playing about 3 levels and a small mini-game before the demo ended, and I felt that was more than enough time spent on the game for one session. After playing through Double Piece multiple times, I can safely say that this game is better played in short spurts at around the same length that I described for the demo.
There are a couple of mini-games and boss fights involved, but the way you deal with all of that boils down to the same thing. The game doesn’t do enough to shake things up or feel like your ever being challenged, since the game is fairly slow and easy. Even playing the game on higher difficulties is not that tough. The main shooting mechanics are very simple and leave a lot of empty room for creativity, which is never used. Simply shoot the girls, avoid their “attacks,” like receiving love letters a little bit too assertively or getting hit by flying Japanese symbols expressing their love for you, and then move on. It you don’t care for the fan service, then the gameplay will quickly get old for you, which is why I don’t recommend you binge on this game, despite it being very short.
Don’t Be A Creepozoid
Elaborating on the game’s length, there are only about 6 episodes with sub levels within it. It’ll usually take you about 3 or 4 hours to beat it, but just because you beat it once, doesn’t mean it’s the end. At the start of every new game, you are met with an important decision you have to make where you choose which character you want to have a relationship with, which will dictate the rest of your playthrough. After beating one route, you’ll unlock access to more of them, in which you’ll have the opportunity to see different stories, outcomes, mini-games, secrets, bosses, and endings. There is a ton of replay value here, which turns the games shortness into an advantage for anyone who wants to get to certain parts quickly. Some parts are worth it, some are not, but you’ll never know unless you give the different routes a shot.
However, there are a few drawbacks to this, mostly having to do with saving. In most visuals novels, you’ll have the opportunity to save your progress at any point, no matter where you are, which is incredibly useful for creating checkpoints and faster ways to unlock everything. It’s a fairly common practice among visual novel players and is an efficient form of completing these games. Unfortunately, Double Piece doesn’t have this. In many occasions, the dialogue options are so vague and unclear that I struggle to find the correct answer and screw up, which makes me want to reload and try again. This would not be bothersome if it weren’t for the fact that I just played through a whole level, a boss fight and a dialogue scene to get to this point. If I had the ability to save wherever, I wouldn’t have to waste my time and slog through everything all over again. It’s moments like these that make me want to stop playing, because the thought of having to play large sections of the game again, or simply start all over from the beginning, just to make different choices that might not be the best ones anyway make want to go on the Internet and look up videos for the endings instead, just to save myself the trouble.
I guess now it is time for me address the elephant in the room; the main reason for why many people even now about this game’s existence to begin with: the fan service and sexually suggestive content. As a person who is very open and honest about enjoying anime with ecchi content, and spend a lot of his time defending games that grow beyond that, I can say that the fan service is really not as bad a some people make it out to be. When fighting of hordes of girls, you can zoom in on them and see through their clothing, which can leave an impression on some people, but after doing it for the millionth time, it won’t matter anymore.
You can also go to a dressing room and change everyone’s outfits, which are simply school uniforms and other regular pieces of clothing, so no scary nudity present here. There are other pieces of clothing and features that you can download through absurdly priced downloadable content, but I don’t recommend you get any of it, unless you plan to stay with this game for a while and VERY URGENTLY want it. Honestly, the fan service here is not that bad. This is definitely no Senran Kagura and the general reactions to it will wither away after a bit. Same as the gameplay, the novelty of it will keep you entertained for a bit, but after 3 hours, you won’t even blink at the sight of it.
Love ‘Till Sundown
Overall, the game is pretty fun if you have an afternoon or a lunch break at work to spend, but I wouldn’t recommend long sessions with it, especially when playing it on the PS Vita, which is the version I recommend. The characters are endearing, the art style is very pleasing to the eyes and exploring all the different routes, along with its sense of humor and above average localization, is interesting enough to keep you coming back until the credits roll. On the other hand, the gameplay can get really repetitive, the music is forgettable and bumping into other tiny struggles along the way hold the game back from giving a full recommendation.
This game is very similar to a firecracker in that it is very pretty, fun and attention grabbing for the first few times you use it, but after doing that same thing hundreds of more times, you get sick of it and stop doing until it becomes interesting again a week later. Personally, I say you rent this game and see how you like it.