The premise of the game is that main character Tenzou has been struck with what appears to be one of Cupid's arrows by a rookie angel named Patako, prompting the girls of the school to rush to confess their love to him. The only problem being that after a day has passed, the effects of the arrow will wear off, leaving Tenzou unable to find his one true love. Thankfully Patako has decided to keep the gaggle of girls at bay by shooting them with pheremone shots until Tenzou can locate his true love and win her over. Shakespeare this is not. At the start of the game you get the choice of one of four girls who is the allocated 'true love'. These encompass most anime girl archetypes and will be immediately familiar to anyone who has spent time with JRPGs or anime and essentially take the role of the princess who needs to be saved at the end of the game.
As the infatuated girls rush towards you, shooting them with the pheromone shots take them down, keeping them at bay. It takes around three shots to fell each girl, unless you manage to shoot them in a special allocated area, prompting an Ecstasy Shot which takes them out in one. As you continue to shoot the girls, a meter in the bottom right of the screen slowly builds up. Once this has been maximised, pressing Y when a girl is in your sights takes you to Doki Doki Mode where you are face to face with the girl you shot. During this timed section, you use the analogue stick to move all around the girl and try and locate her weak point. When she has been shot enough, she cries out with pleasure, you gain a health boost and you revert back to the usual shooting. This mode breaks up the repetitive blasting nicely and is also pure fan service for anyone with a weakness for moe girls. To avoid any potential embarrassment in case the player is interrupted in real life whilst this is going on, the developers have included a handy panic screen accessed by pressing the back button on the controller which turns the game into a mock 8-bit RPG.
At the end of each stage is a boss battle which involves the girl selected at the outset. These take a variety of forms but the overall aim is to rescue the girl from certain predicaments. For example, one such scenario involves a tentacled monster which has highlighted weak points that need to be shot at to release the girl. Others involve reflecting back projectiles. Like the Doki Doki Mode, these battles are a welcome diversion from the repetition that creeps in during the standard shooting sections, although a bit more challenge would be welcome.
In terms of the controls, they are responsive and fluid. The cross-hair is moved with the left analogue stick at a nice pace – not too fast or twitchy, where precision aiming would become a problem and not too slow as to hinder the ability of the player to accurately and effectively shoot the girls. Due to the on-rails nature of the game, there are times where the screen scrolls a little too fast to allow the player to target and shoot all of the girls on screen, but this is really only a concern for those going for high scores and is not enough of an issue to take away any enjoyment from the game for the average player.
In between the action are some story sequences with multiple choice options at certain points. The intricacies of these will be lost on anyone without an understanding of Japanese, but I don't imagine too many people will be buying the game for its story. The choices made here affect the overall ranking at the end of each stage though, so not having a full grasp on what is being said will have an impact on any potential replayability to achieve better scores.
Overall, Gal Gun is a curious package. Its lightgun shooter elements immediately make it stand out from other niche Japanese genres, but at its heart it is a game targeted at the Otaku crowd. For that reason, anyone debating buying the game to scratch an itch they have for a fresh take on the lightgun game will be left bamboozled and possibly disturbed. Those amongst us with a love of quirky games from the Land of the Rising Sun however, will come away knowing they have played something that is unique and unlike anything else our PAL console owning colleagues will have experienced on their 360. Just remember that the back button is there to be used in case of emergency incase the aforementioned colleagues' curiosity is piqued.
- Unique take on the traditional Japanese text adventure genre.
- Lovely cell-shaded graphics.
- Boss fights and Doki Doki Mode.
- Region locked!
- A fairly short game with only 4 routes to choose from.
- Standard levels get repetitive quickly.