The Vita is dead; long live the Vita.
Remember the PlayStation Vita? I sure do. It was Sony’s half-assed attempt to level-up the PSP, but it failed for many of the same reasons—first and foremost among them, Sony left it on somebody’s doorstep and ran in the other direction. The spunky little handheld received almost no first-party support and eventually mutated into a bastion for weird Japanese waifu games, like Hyperdimension Neptunia, Senran Kagura, and, of course, Gal*Gun. Now that Sony has stopped producing Vitas and memory sticks are not just prohibitively expensive but harder and harder to find, one wonders where waifu games will end up. The answer is that they’re going to end up on the Nintendo Switch.
Gal*Gun 2 is, counterintuitively, the third game in the Gal*Gun series, which has, until now, only made it to Vita and Steam in North America. All three games are, shall we say, whimsical first-person shooters in which you are approached by amorous female high school students and must shoot them with a “Pheromone Shot” until they collapse in a heap of ecstasy and disappear (where they go is not made clear). In between missions, you maintain chatty relationships with several female students and your choices affect the flow and ending.
In Gal*Gun 2, the setup is largely the same. A cute female angel, Risu, gives you the “Pheromone Goggles” and matching gun and asks you to hunt down little Chibi demons that have run amok at your high school. Thanks to the goggles, only you can see angels and demons. During most missions, you move between several spots in a single location, aiming in all directions to shoot girls and more importantly, the demons they potentially harbor. Once you shoot the demons off the girls, you suck them up in a vacuum. The goggles however, also attract normal girls to you, and they will mindlessly flock in your direction.
You take care of this by shooting them several times until they joyously collapse in a heap of ecstasy and disappear. Each girl in the game has a “weak point” on her head, chest, torso, or legs. A single shot to that spot (which highlights as you pass your reticule over it) is an instant KO. Otherwise, girls take several shots to put down. Girls with demons stuck to them are shielded from your Pheromone Shot until you pop the demons off, at which point you can hit the girl in her weak point and suck up the Chibi demons. Once your vacuum gun is sufficiently powerful, you can actually just hold down the "suck" button and inhale both Chibi demons and the clothing of your targets.
You do this repeatedly until the mission ends. Two variations on this theme are included: in one, you must simply defend some girls from waves of incoming demons by either shooting or sucking them up. If the girls run out of HP, the mission fails. In the other, you are looking for specific objects, Metroid: Other M-style, within a short amount of time, and you’re usually attacked by girls at the same time. These pixel-hunt missions border on frustrating and I tried to avoid them whenever possible. The objects you’re asked to find are often downright tiny and the time limits are too short to include scouring an environment and shooting down girls.
In between missions, you’ll have lengthy conversations with four characters: your angel buddy Risu, neighbor Chiru, classmate Nanako, and Kurona the Demon who’s apparently been in previous Gal*Gun games. She seems to be the cause of the Chibi outbreak at your school. Dialogue trees tend to stick with a good, bad, and neutral response, which is fine, but a few times you are given “pervy” and “not quite as pervy” options, which I didn’t like. The main mission types and the story sequences make up the bulk of gameplay. As you progress through the story, you’ll constantly accrue candy (more on this in a second) and decorations for your room.
Completing optional side missions reward you with the phone number of the girl who requested it. You can call her up at any time, which acts largely as a character model viewer but you can give her candy to make her like you, change her outfit (there’s apparently DLC coming) and…fantasize about her.
We should probably talk about the fantasizing. Hold on, let me pour a shot of Fireball.
*gulps it down* *pounds table*
At various times during the main story, you will be asked to exorcise Risu, Chiru, Nanako, and Kurona of demons that have managed to get into their bodies. This is also what the “fantasizing” option is when meeting up with classmates (although there it doesn’t have any story consequences). In this mini-game, you have a certain amount of time to poke around at her body, and when you find an area that houses demons, you shoot it like crazy while she moans until all the demons are out (you’ll know when that happens). You continue doing this until time runs out. Yes, kids, demons have a tendency to gather on the bust, rear, small of back, and lips. For some reason they also like hands, feet, and knees. If you do this enough on any particular girl, her clothes disappear and she’s reduced to a bra and panties.
This is weird enough on its face, but when you consider that all of the students at this high school—all of the students—are underage teenage girls, your teeth start to grind. Kurona is a straight-up loli character and Chiru isn’t much better. It’s difficult to describe how uncomfortable these sequences made me. If only the screenshot button could be used to memorialize by face reflected in the screen—it would be an expression of abject horror. The classmate meetups are totally optional and you don’t have to do them, but the four main characters’ exorcisms are story sequences. It’s bad enough that you’re creeping on schoolgirls, but their jailbait dialogue and ecstatic vocalizations is just too much.
This is a line in the sand I’m not comfortable crossing. “But Zach,” I hear you say, “you love the Senran Kagura series, which is totally about ridiculously busty schoolgirls tearing their clothes off each other.” I wondered about this too. In Senran, it’s the girls who are shredding each other to pieces. They have agency; they’re the ones doing the deed. In Gal*Gun 2, it feels completely exploitive. I should mention that all of the Senran games have mildly pervy dress-up modes where you can poke at a character’s body to elicit different reactions—this is a mode I always avoid because, again, it strikes me as exploitive.
If you can get past the underage ogling thing, Gal*Gun 2 is a fun, if short, game. Once you beat it, you can start a New Game+, which keeps all your phone contacts and goggle/gun upgrades, but the only real motivation for replaying Gal*Gun 2 is to pick different responses and see where the story winds up. Otherwise there’s not much meat on these underage bones. I don’t know if I can recommend Gal*Gun 2. I’m not trying to be a social justice warrior here; I’m just saying that poking at the half-naked bodies of minors is creepy. The rest of the game is fine, and maybe there’s a dialogue tree that avoids those creeper parts; I don’t know. If that stuff makes you uneasy, I’d avoid this waifu game.