Gal*Gun Double Peace is the sequel to a rather groundbreaking rail shooter game initially released on the Xbox 360 in 2011 by Alchemist & Inti Creates. Instead of shoot-to-kill with firearms, the main character in Gal*Gun uses his "lady-killer pheromone-infused gaze" to incapacitate lovestruck girls who chase after him, an aftereffect of a cupid(in-training)'s epic failure.
The 360 version later drew flak from fans because of a mandatory update that incorporated what's called "PPP" or Panties Protection Patch, where pantyshots were covered by fixed camera angles, dark filters and starch-infused skirts. Bad move considering that the essence of this game is softcore fanservice. The game was ported to the PS3 sans that dastardly patch a year later, and was well-received.
Now we come to this sequel, released for both the PS4 & Vita by the same outfits plus Experience, Inc. For clarity's sake, my review will be for the Vita version only.
Ekoro was acting all high-and-mighty back in the PS3 version... but when it came time for her to perform, she made THE EXACT SAME BUNGLE that Patako did a year ago.
You may be asking what the deal is with the "Double Peace" thing? Well, it's a currently popular aspect in the field of Japanese erotica. I won't go into details here, try looking up the keywords "ahegao & double peace" in any old search engine and you'll see what I mean. Do so at your own risk. Don't hold me responsible for the inevitable culture shock you may experience.
The story of Double Peace takes place a year after the first Gal*Gun: Tenzou Motesugi's exploits in Sakurazaki Third HS became a hot topic around the students on campus, dubbed the "Motesugi Legend". (this is actually a play on words; if written another way, Motesugi can also mean "Too Popular" in Japanese) It's unclear what happened to him afterwards (probably transferred out with the girl he ended up with, which can be either Kaname, Akira or even the graduated Kaoruko? Aoi returns in this game, which means she probably wasn't canonically chosen... awww...).
Enter the new main character, Houdai Kudoki (yet another wordplay name that belies his actual personality, if read and written a different way, it can translate to "irrepressible sweet talker"), a second year student. He's only heard bits and pieces of last year's Motesugi Legend, downed by food poisoning on the actual day. Little does he know that he's next in line for that phenomenon, as another cupid has her sights on him as a subject for her graduation test...
Needless to say, history repeats itself.
Besieged on all sides by lovestruck girls and the impending possibility of being single for life if he fails to get a girlfriend before the sun sets, Houdai must man up and make a choice; will he pursue either of his childhood friends, both, or another girl altogether?
Being a rail shooter, Gal*Gun Double Peace is ideally meant for use with a light gun/PS Move Controller. However, neither the PS4 nor the Vita has such peripherals at the moment. Even so, it's playable enough with the analog sticks, controller buttons and the Vita's touch screen with just a bit of a learning curve involved.
On with the review. While I'm a longtime fan of the series, this will contain anything but just mere blurbs. I'll be pointing out the good points and bad points in itemized order for easy reading.
*Ecstasy Shot Judgement Is More Lenient: The most stressful part about the fist Gal*Gun is that for Ecstasy Combo shot combo counter to continue, you have to consistently hit girls in right spot every time. Hit a non-reactive part and the combo is instantly broken. In the case of Double Peace, you can do stun lock shots. The combo counter is kept as long as you don't incapacitate a girl in the wrong place. You can also stun them with a charge shot or by touching them on-screen. Beware though, the Student Council and Disciplinary Committee members cannot be stunned.
*Zoom Is Much More Functional: In the first game, some NPC girls stay nestled in places with their weak spots hidden (bad news for Ecstasy Combo hunters) and the zoom function is merely for faraway targets (which are often few and far between). Now, the zoom goes through obstacles and then some. It's also an important function in Action Sequence Battles.
You can't hide your weakness from me anymore... resistance is fertile... er, futile.
*Doki Doki Mode Gets Full Overhaul: Before, you had to aim carefully and hit Triangle to subject a girl to Doki Doki Mode, and it can only be done one girl at a time. The PS3 version's "Doki Doki Panic" mode introduced the concept of being able to do that with multiple girls. In Double Peace, hitting Triangle stuns all girls on-screen. Depending on how much you've built up your Doki Doki Meter, you can freely pick up to three girls to play around with. You can (literally) tickle their fancy by either tapping or rubbing their weak spots on the touch screen. Do it enough and they'll reach the "Double Peace" state. The best part? They don't block. The old style is now called "Final Doki Doki Mode", and can only be done in the Ending part.
*Power-Ups: Aoi Uno returns in this game and she's in charge of the School Shop, which uses Golden Feathers as currency. These are obtained whenever you beat a stage, rank up and fulfill search quests posted in the online campus message board "Sakura Talk". During every Intermission part from Stage 2-1 onwards, you can buy power-ups for HP, Shot, Special Skills, as well as trait up/down items. There's also a donation box to help Aoi's band on their way to stardom.
*NPC Girls Can Be Easily Pursued: This one can actually be done in the first Gal*Gun as well, but you had to put in a bit of effort to be rejected by the heroine you chose to pursue first by mucking up trait stats and dialogue choices. In Double Peace, If neither Shinobu nor Maya floats your boat, you can forget about them completely and directly chase after the NPC girl you want. No fuss, no muss. Of course, there's a small matter of unlocking that route first though... for her part, Aoi just requires bri-... err, donations.
*Doki Doki Mode No Longer Contributes To Your Score: I guess that would have to be the down side of being able to accommodate up to 3 at once at with them putting no unnecessary resistance. Unfortunately, the same also applies to the Final mode. The good news though is that the bomb effect still counts, multiplied by your current ES combo count.
*Oddly-Placed Collectible Items: To get the raw info on the NPC girls, Doki Doki mode alone is not enough; you will need to collect Student Handbooks scattered around the stages. They are often easy to spot and obtain, but there are a few placed in some of the most annoying locations where they're either hard to hit even with zoom, or an open area around the middle/end part of the stage where the screen will just keep moving, giving you only mere seconds to shoot it. You'd have to restart the stage if you miss the handbook, which brings us to our next issue...
*Loading Times: If you play this game vanilla, the load times for all the modes will be horrendously long, regardless of the system. A patch was made to fix it (though at a whopping 1.2GB, almost the size of a full DL Vita game). The in-game load times were cut. But on the flip side, the boot up time became the next point that lagged. At least that's a one-time deal and there will (hopefully) be another patch to fix it later on.
*Too Few Unlockable Costumes: With this game, DLC and exclusive costumes are a given. But did they really have to skimp on the scant unlockables? Worse, only one costume (Dengeki Elena Uniform) has a corresponding accessory, the rest have none. It would have been nice if the same costumes from the first game were also included.
On a side note, I'm liking the fact that Double Peace has a bit of a collaboration going on with Bullet Girls (another Vita game that also involves fanservice), since one of the unlockable costumes is the Misakimori HS uniform.
*Time Judgement In All Stages: I don't really see the point. Damage and Accuracy are understandable, but this one? While the story revolves around time pressure on the main character to find a girlfriend before his once-in-a-lifetime day of extreme popularity runs out, the core of the game is to have fun with the NPC girls as you go through each stage. Of course, you'd inevitably have a handful of favorites among them that you'd like to subject to Doki Doki Mode as much as possible, but do it too often or in the wrong instances and your time total suffers. This means you have to divide your games into 2: A high score speedrun & a leisurely run. In the first game, you can do both at once and on a whim because there was no time judgement. A separate "Time Attack" mode would have made more sense.
*Cannot Directly Restart Non-Battle Action Mini-Games: Even with the patch, the load times per stage are still quite long, and there are people who want to go though certain runs quick without having to worry about perfecting the Action Mini-Games later (especially for those doing trophy runs). In the first Gal*Gun, you can restart directly from any Action Sequence. For Double Peace, you can only do so for the Battle parts... that means that if you muck up a mini-game and want to do it over, the only way is to go back to the title screen and start the whole preceding stage from scratch. Bad move. Verry bad.
Girls can now do "grab & kiss". Why it drains Houdai's nerves escapes me, if I was grabbed & kissed by a girl, I'd be powered up instead and take the lead for what would inevitably come next...
On an unrelated note, I'm a bit disappointed that certain NPC girls did not carry over to the following year. Minamo Yamamoto (1st year) and Sanae Midou (2nd year) were among my usual Doki Doki Mode targets alongside the Kuroda sisters (the latter of whom are thankfully present sans the eldest who has now graduated) in the first game. Despite this, a handful of the new students are quite charming, so (almost) all is forgiven.
Overall, a lot of the problem areas from the first game were fixed, but new problems emerged hampering the fun factor in some points. (with any luck, some of these will be worked on in future update patches). Even so, Double Peace is still an engaging game for rail shooter/softcore fanservice lovers, and there are still plenty of things to do even after finishing that Trophy run. Do you have the guts (and the patience) to get the ending for EVERY SINGLE GIRL in the game?
OMAKE: Recently, the outfit came up with a handful of DLC that they claim are for "hardcore Gal*Gun players only", and are priced steeper than the average costumes. The first two, priced at 1000 yen apeiece, increases/decreases the bust size of all the girls. The other one, valued at a staggering 10,000 yen (yup, that's the big ol' ichi-man en), powers up see-through zoom function and turns Doki Doki Mode into a full-on underwear peep show.
I wonder what the execs & devs were smoking when they came up with that price?
There are other fanservice games around that show underwear (and then some) as a package deal with no extra microtransactions for roughy half of the amount of the latter option. (Bullet Girls & Senran Kagura immediately come to mind) Heck, R-18 anime videos are priced even less.
From a local standpoint, console/handheld fanservice games are ostensibly meant for the U-18 crowd who aren't allowed to purchase explicit stuff yet (though junior high/high school students can freely buy adult rags from vending machines and there are gaping loopholes they can exploit for internet shops/auction sites anyway). I'm usually not very critical of DLC, but a singular option for double the price of a full game? Ludicrous.
I'd rather have an apron-only DLC costume at 500 yen like with the first game's PS3 version please, thank you very much.