Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Game Review: Gal*Gun (First Impressions)

Gal*Gun (Demo)
  • Publisher: Alchemist
  • Developer: Inti Creates
  • Release: PlayStation 3, 23 February 2012 (Japan/South Korea)
  • Genre: First-person action
  • Players: 1
  • Rarity/Cost: Free
NB: I should note that the following text reflects not the full version of Gal*Gun, but a free demo available on the Japanese PlayStation Network store. It's possible for foreigners to create and use a PSN account, to not only buy the game but get its free demo, but it takes some doing. The late JewWario of You Can Play This has uploaded a video to instruct you on doing such, as a matter of fact, so go watch that. Oh, and the title is listed in Japanese, so search for "ぎゃる☆がん" ("Gyaru Gan").

Everyone done? Good. Now, on to the review, inasmuch as I can call it one.

A little Fun Fact about me as a gamer: I love light-gun shooters (Japanese-made ones, that is), as evidenced by the fact that I have an article tag for them. My favourite has to be the Time Crisis series by Namco, and I shall have to review them sometime. But stay in love with a genre for long enough, and sooner or later each new experience starts feeling like the last. Not to mention, a lot of these games are bloody short! Of course, that's because most of them are ports of coin-op arcade games, which are short by their nature of being designed to get players on and off as fast as possible, but still. So it's about time for some new blood in the genre, I say, and then along comes Gal*Gun, an Asian-exclusive PS3 game, providing a cute quasi-parody of the genre. Is it the new blood we need? Let's find out.

Gal*Gun started life not as an arcade game, but an XBox 360-exclusive from early 2011. However, somebody forgot to make a light-gun controller for the 360, so you have to play it with a traditional controller. Not that it's inherently a bad thing, I mean, a lot of these games have traditional controller support. Not very good traditional controller support, but hey, the spirit of inclusion is there. Besides, this version is region-locked against non-Japanese XBox 360s, and they made a patch to censor the panty shots... more on that some other time. But then along came a port for the PlayStation 3 a year later, bringing along with it Move controller support and the ability to play on non-Japanese consoles. But would you want to? Again, let's find out.

You play as Tenzou, an Ordinary High School Student who gets accidentally shot by a bunch of magical arrows by a cupid named Patako. Although according to the opening cutscene I don't think it was that unintentional. But anyway, Tenzou is blessed with super sex appeal, although he has to find true love before the magic's affect wears off, he'll be lonely for the rest of his life. Now, I actually had to find that last part off of the game's Wikipedia entry, because its story is presented visual-novel style in spoken and written text, which of course is presented entirely in Japanese. But the end result is that all the girls in Tenzou's school go crazy over him, and he has to fend them off with the use of Patako's Pheremone Gun. And I'm like, what is your problem Tenzou?  Why are you even fighting them in the first place? Aren't you supposed to find love before the day is out or whatever? Maybe you're one of the few among us who know the difference between love and lust; that's the best explanation I can manage.
Enemy "bullets", in the form of text characters, are easy to block.
But anyway, here's where you come in. You move a cursor with the Left Stick and press a button to "shoot" at girls, whereupon instead of dying they swoon with delight and disappear. It even does that Virtua Cop thing where the camera automatically zooms into certain targets. And you know how in most shooters you can deal more damage with head shots? Well to that effect Gal*Gun has "Ecstasy Shots", which are located around the front of their skirts (you know... where they hide their lady parts), and bring them down with one shot instead of the usual three or four. The girls' attacks consist primarily of launching various kana and kanji characters that drift lazily towards the screen, and you must shoot to block them or incur "damage", inasmuch as I can call it damage given the context of the story. But whatever it symbolises, if it falls to zero, it's Game Over, of course. However, unlike most shooter games, light-gun or otherwise, your Pheremone Gun has unlimited ammo; you don't even need to reload its magazine or anything. Combined with the lethargic sense of danger, and based on the demo alone, Gal*Gun shapes up to be an unfortunately boring experience. Maybe the pace picks up in the later stages of the full version, I don't know.

In addition to your health meter, there's a heart-shaped meter which you can fill up multiple times with successful hits. Once it fills at least one, you can hover your cursor over a girl and press Triangle to enter what's called "Doki-Doki Mode". As the setting shifts to a different plane of existence or something, you move your cursor between various pre-set points along the girl's body, and press the fire button/trigger to, I don't know, poke her there or something, filling up a separate meter on the left. But you have to do it before your heart meter runs out of juice and you get kicked back out to the main game. And you can't just button-mash your way to success like in the main game; as you place a hit and the girl, ahem, "reacts", you can't fire again until her animation completes. This partial denial of input makes for a truly boring, tedious diversion. So anyway, assuming you manage to complete this mini-game (don't forget to press Triangle again to deliver the, ahem, "finishing blow"), and do you want to know what the reward for all that was? A bomb, inasmuch as I can call it a bomb. All the girls on-screen, ahem, "cleared out" simultaneously. And I'm like, *why* couldn't I just launch a "bomb" instantly when I press that confounded button!?
The Doki-Doki Mode takes way too much time to get through.
If I ever purchase the full version, I'll make a part-two of this review, but the demo hasn't given me much to be excited about. Let me put it to you this way: this isn't a game that should make you buy a Move system if you don't already own one. Rather, if you don't already own a Move system, then give this a pass. The unorthodox setting is cute, either in the sexualised spirit with which it was intended, or in its camp value for attempting the former and failing. But as a game, let alone a light-gun game, it's rather boring and slow-paced. Maybe the full version ramps up the challenge something decent, but otherwise I can't quite recommend this game, inasmuch as I can call it a game.

Control: 4 Ecstasy Shots out of 5
Design: 2 Ecstasy Shots out of 5
Graphics: 5 Ecstasy Shots out of 5
Audio: 3 Ecstasy Shots out of 5
The Call: 3 Ecstasy Shots out of 5 (C)

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