Less is more.
If you good readers would like some past examples of this unique format, check out these recent reviews. Generally, when I find a traditional review is not coming together, that’s a pretty good indication that the FAQ format will be a good fit, as has happened here. For a little more homework, you should at least skim my review of Gal*Gun 2 from a few years ago. Now then…
Hey Zach, I hear you’ve been playing a new game.
Indeed I have, voice in my head. For some reason I decided to fall on the Gal*Gun Returns sword for the benefit of all our lovely readers.
Okay, that’s a little surprising.
If I recall, Gal*Gun 2 made you want claw your eyes out.
Oh man, did it ever. It crossed a very specific line—ogling and poking the bodies of young, high school-age girls eroded my soul. The shooting gallery stuff, where you shoot incoming amorous women with your “Gal Gun” was silly but mostly harmless, but holy lord, the more focused leering and vacuuming up their clothes? Kill me now.
Thankfully (?), Gal*Gun Returns is a far more vanilla, but more tolerable, game. Hilariously, Returns is a remake of the original game, developed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Gal*Gun franchise.
Is that even warranted?
That’s a very good question! The Gal*Gun saga primarily involves three games: Gal*Gun, Gal*Gun: Double Peace, and Gal*Gun 2. There’s also a VR game that I assume nobody played. My guess is that we’ll eventually get Double Peace on Switch, but yeah, this ain’t Nep-Nep.
Okay, well…how is it?
Thankfully, it’s not nearly as cringe-inducing as either Double Peace or Gal*Gun 2. You’re doing three things in Returns: shooting gallery segments, an early version of Doki-Doki Mode, and unique minigames depending on your paramour (see below). The shooting gallery is the same as it’s always been: you wander through school in first-person, shooting down love-struck girls. As you scroll the reticle up and down their slender frames, you’ll be able to see their weak points, and shooting their weak points puts ‘em down immediately. You don’t aim with the Joy-Con, you use the sticks, which works fine. Teachers (who are thankfully visually differentiated by outfit) take a lot more ammo to take down OR you can just hit Doki-Doki Mode and satisfy them that way.
Oh god here we go.
I know, but the saving grace here is that Doki-Doki mode is not nearly as exploitive as in Gal*Gun 2. Outer layers don’t fly off and the girls are not as…vocal while you shoot them in certain areas. But you’re still scanning their bodies and shooting them in the back, groin, butt, boobs, neck, and face for maximum “ecstasy.” If you linger too long on a particular body part, she may cover up, forcing your wandering eye to drift to other potential targets. Anyway, you fill up her “love meter” and that will detonate an “Ecstasy Bomb” that will hit all the girls onscreen so it’s kind of your “super attack.”
Is that it? Is that as bad as it gets?
Yes, thank Arceus. You have individual stats (intelligence, athleticism, fashion, and horny*) that will shift around upon completing a Doki-Doki attack. The goal is to get all your stats to 100, so you’ll want to save your specials for teachers, who generally raise most, if not all, your stats, while younger targets may lower one or more.
One thing that differentiates Returns from its sequels is that you’re asked, at the outset, to choose one of four girls to pursue in your quest for true love and you’ll then often find yourself in conversations with that girl. Sometimes you’ll be asked a question, and you only get three responses which broadly fit into three categories: squeaky clean, playing it safe, and horndog. If different responses affect the story, I couldn’t tell, and I don’t really want to find out by playing this multiple times. Each girl has a particular story arc, which is nice (I guess) and character-specific minigames.
What are the minigames like?
Well, in one, you have to hold a ladder while the object of your affection selects books from a library shelf, and you have to balance keeping her up while occasionally letting go to grab books. In another one, you have to quickly select a pose that she calls out (out of three choices) and then fight drowsiness by shooting sheep before they reach the other side of the screen. A later game has you trying to free your girlfriend from a cartoonish cage (or, in another, a plant monster) before she’s abducted, which was surprisingly hard to do. I actually enjoyed the minigames but there aren’t enough of them. You’ll spend 80% of your time in shooting gallery segments.
Once you beat the game, you can mess with the costumes of the students, teachers, and the four main girls. There’s even a bunny suit costume, which you can bet your bottom dollar I activated immediately. Beating the game also earns you zenni which can be used in a Gallery mode on concept art. There’s a ton of concept art, but that means you’ll have to play through game many times to unlock it all, which I’m not sure I’m willing to do. One thing that makes me chuckle about these games it that I’m pretty sure they all use the same assets: the school setting is the same between games, the girls don’t really look any different, the music rarely (if ever) changes, and the animations are canned and repetitious. They’re mostly differentiated by their dialogue/dating sim components, minigames, and degree of creeptastic voyeurism.
I’m still finding it hard to get past Doki-Doki mode since almost all the characters are very young.
Maybe you shouldn’t play it. However, if you can put yourself in an academic, emotionless state of mind, there really is some fun to be had, arguably moreso than in Gal*Gun 2. But you do have to wade through some…questionable…content.
*Horny is not an actual stat, but you wouldn’t be surprised, would you?