GAME REVIEW | Doki Doki Fun Returns in "Gal*Gun" Remake
It’s been ten years since Inti Creates brought to the world its Gal*Gun creation. However, the Western side would have to wait until Gal*Gun: Double Peace arrived before they could experience this unique rail shooter. While we can’t go back in time and convince the Japan side to have the rest of the world see what this game had to offer, the next-best thing has arrived: a full-blown remake aptly titled Gal*Gun Returns.
Of course, a game this massive can’t be conquered by just one person. So with the power of Doki Doki magic, the Boston Bastard Brigade’s King Baby Duck and Wicked Anime’s Andrew Fleming are double-teaming Inti Creates’s 25th anniversary project. Are they both swooned by its Pheromone Shots, or are they immune to the power of angels?
King Baby Duck: It’s hard not to start off talking about Gal*Gun Returns without taking a look at its story. Going the silliest route possible, the narrative follows male student Tenzou, who is shot by rapidly-fired arrows by angel-in-training Patako. Suddenly, all the women at his high school are falling head over heels in love with the guy. That’s when Patako fills him in on his situation: either find his one true love today, or never find love ever again.
The premise is similar to what Gal*Gun: Double Peace did, where you have the entire school day to evade all love confessions and attempt to melt the heart of your beloved. Taking the dating sim route, there are four women you can confess to, ranging from the childhood friend Kaname to the school rock ‘n’ roller Aoi. Although the game doesn’t go far into detail regarding character development, it does tell enough to add some dimensions to these characters.
However, where Gal*Gun Returns shines is in its sense of humor. Poor Tenzou is obviously the straight man to Patako’s antics, even going so far as to being a lot more chivalrous than his counterparts. He may have his pervy sides, but he makes some good points about relationships that get stomped all over due to his “unfortunate” situation. There are some jokes that have been Westernized for the sake of the English audience, as I am certain that Japan’s style of humor may go over some people’s heads.
Andrew Fleming: This is my first experience playing a Gal*Gun title. Most of my previous experiences have been viewing it from the outside seeing videos or promotional material so I’ve never had any idea of a story or what kind of content could be brought forth past just shooting high school girls who have and some sort of fascination with the main character. On my first playthrough, I found that I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t anything super sleazy, but it did, in fact, check all the right boxes for short form visual novels from Japan with some extra bits of gameplay.
I had the chance to play through a full route of one of the girls and a little bit of another, and from that experience alone, I understood everything about the rest of the game that I would need to know (In the best way possible). Now, I wouldn’t say that Gal*Gun does anything revolutionary with the story that you haven’t already seen in some other rom-com titles that have flown their way over from Japan, but if you find that you like one of them, you’ll probably like the rest of them too. The major element that the story has going for it is how incredibly tongue-in-cheek everything is. This game knows exactly what it is and fully owns it’s absurdity. Do you wanna chase your crush around the school with a cupid angel throwing saucy glances at chicks who want nothing more than to confess their love to you? Well, I wouldn’t have come for anything less!
The whole purpose of the story is for your main character, Tenzou, to find the girl he wants to confess to or else he will never be able to fall in love again for the rest of his existence. My main experience in the game revolved around myself chasing after Akira, with a little bit of Aoi afterwards. The story is simple, clean and short. There isn’t anything confusing or complicated happening and it certainly hits the anime “cute factor.”
KBD: Like in the rest of the series’s titles, Gal*Gun Returns is set up like a rail shooter. Using the Pheromone Shot, players control Tenzou as he runs through the school shooting love-stricken classmates. You can easily fire off random shots, but getting a one-time Ecstasy Shot will result in higher points. With enough in your chamber, you can implement Doki Doki Mode, which has you getting a little closer to your target in ways that’ll make them melt like putty in your hands.
It’s impressive how well this rail shooter plays on the Nintendo Switch. While it may not have the same feel as using a Wiimote in games like House of the Dead or even the NES Zapper in Hogan’s Alley, the movement of the control sticks are incredibly smooth. Zooming in on targets and aiming for an Ecstasy Shot is fairly simple, so long as you’re not being drowned in classmates clamoring for a piece of Tenzou’s love. Sadly, it’s disappointing that there are no touch screen controls when playing the game in Travel Mode, as it could’ve added a bit of humor in the same way that Moero Crystal H’s did. (What kind of humor that’d be, I’ll leave to your imagination.)
When Gal*Gun Returns switches things up, the gameplay can be a little more fun. Segments where you’ll have to balance Kaname while grabbing books or help Aoi figure out song lyrics was a nice change of pace in their storylines. However, it would’ve been nice to have seen more of these left turns throughout the game rather in one every other chapter. As such, it can sometimes lead the game down a somewhat repetitive path.
The same can be said about the Doki Doki mode, whose Double Peace variation still stands out as the best. Yes, there’s a challenge when it comes to finding the right spots, but since it practically gives you all of the time in the world, it never feels urgent to get it right. It’s only when you are trying it out with your hopeful girlfriend-to-be when there is a challenge thrown in, as the guardians that appear do offer enough of a nuisance to make some feel hurrisome to complete it.
AFLM: First things first, on PC, this game is easy; in fact it’s incredibly easy! Using a mouse basically turns this title into a point and click adventure rather than a rail shooter as you throw sick flicks to the high school girls chasing tail. You can easily handicap yourself by plugging in a controller, but why would you ever wanna do that?! You want to be the best ladykiller there ever was! I had an idea that this would be the case going in so I set it right to the highest difficulty I could…there were only two at base and I made quick and easy work of the story. Being someone who’s never even touched one of the previous titles, I still found myself getting ‘Perfects,’ taking no damage, and shooting any and all females on the screen before animations could complete.
Lack of difficulty aside, it’s still fun! The most impressive thing I never expected out of this game is that the characters aren’t just generic npc females chasing you around the school. It’s an actual roster of 30+ characters or so, both teachers and students, that keep appearing and keep chasing you throughout the adventure! This is really cool and a level of detail I never expected from a rail-shooting visual novel. As I continued to play through the game, I finally figured out the importance of this element when using the Doki Doki Mode to profile and “capture” different characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this about the game!
KBD: On the Nintendo Switch, Gal*Gun Returns looks a lot better than I thought it would. The anime-styled graphics are very cute and well-detailed, with every character on screen brimming with some unique visual personality. While the backgrounds can be a little same-y, the rest of what the game offers from an artistic perspective is certainly pleasing on the eyes. Although it still looks good when playing in Travel Mode, I did notice a bit more fuzz and clothing clipping that wasn’t existent in the Docked Mode.
AFLM: The visuals are great! Nothing super special as far any other anime title, but certainly not lazy by cutting corners on the graphics. If you like anime, you’ll like what the design and texture and model choices are doing for you! The animation is a little odd at times during the visual novel scenes as far as the talking mouth flaps and pose-to-pose actions go, but that would only be a nitpick on my end. Everything is truly fine about how it looks.
KBD: Each run-through of the Story Mode will take you roughly two hours to complete. However, as there are four girls with two endings each, there are plenty of reasons to dive back into it, resulting in at least ten hours of gameplay. Once you get at least one True Mode, you’ll unlock "Doki Doki Carnival", which takes a more visual novel route as you find a way to rid yourself of Patako’s curse forever more. This mode also lasts two hours, but has branching areas that make replaying it a must!
As you play the game, you’ll earn feathers that can unlock some nice visual goodies. These will range from promotional posters and character drawings to rough sketches and level designs. There’s also a nice little bonus you can unlock with 100 feathers, but I’ll let you see it for yourself so as to not spoil the surprise. You can also switch around outfits for all of the characters, so if you’re in the mood to see everyone in maid costumes or having panda bears clamped to their legs, then there will be no stopping you!
AFLM: There is alot to unlock in this game, that alone gives a player the motivation to keep trying different things. My first playthrough got me the ‘Good Ending’ with Akira and makes me wonder what I may have missed if I had made some different choices. The characters are all unique enough that you know that you’ll get a different story experience based on the girl’s personality, but the gameplay will wholly be the same.
Maybe change the characters' outfits in the dressing room to get new visuals as you make your way through again. Perhaps if the dedicated community adds any mods like for the previous titles, that may add some extra intrigue for more playthroughs as well!
- Funny story, memorable characters
- Easy control scheme
- Cute visuals
- Full unique roster of characters including all the extras
- Plenty of content to unlock and experience, including a second game mode
- Easy to pick up from your first playthrough
- Lack of touchscreen controls on Switch
- Gameplay slightly repetitive
- Very Easy
- Just shoot everything, not much else
KBD: Gal*Gun Returns brings plenty of laughs and naughty fun for fans of anime and rail shooters. While there’s more gameplay curveballs thrown in both Double Peace and the sequel, what’s offered here is still enough to warrant a good time. Even though there are some that may scoff at its concept, one cannot deny that Gal*Gun Returns delivers what it promises, and then some!
AFLM: The game has charm through it’s absurd storytelling. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary as far as Japanese rom-com goes, but at least it’s a visual novel with an on-rail shooting mechanic to it to keep the pace moving. Gal*Gun Returns knows exactly what it is, and I suspect whoever is purchasing this game will as well. If you like anime rom-com, there is nothing really to be disappointed about, but know that on the PC, you will be the fastest love gun in the East.
Promotional consideration provided by PQUBE Games. Reviewed on the PC (AFLM) and Nintendo Switch (KBD).