Gals Panic 4 along with that installment’s unusually tame content.">

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Gals Panic SS (Saturn) artwork

Gals Panic SS (Saturn) review

"This atypically console-native edition of Gals Panic is hands down the best offering in the beloved “uncover a glowing silhouette to see some skin” genre – which is why it gets a seven. No seriously, it’s actually a surprisingly decent puzzle game featuring virtually identical gameplay to the arcade-only Gals Panic 4 along with that installment’s unusually tame content."

This atypically console-native edition of Gals Panic is hands down the best offering in the beloved “uncover a glowing silhouette to see some skin” genre – which is why it gets a seven. No seriously, it’s actually a surprisingly decent puzzle game featuring virtually identical gameplay to the arcade-only Gals Panic 4 along with that installment’s unusually tame content. Unlike the earlier GP games and their occasionally horrific clones, instead of exposing digitized photos of skanky women exposing themselves, you’ll be peeking at cute, colorful sketches of fully-clothed anime girls going “tee hee.” We’re not talking about creepy hentai pictures, either; there’s practically nothing unseemly in the entire game! Having thus outraged their legions of faithful, horny fans all over Japan, Kaneko subsequently went the hentai route for all subsequent editions, but the damage was already done: they’d accidentally managed to release a few enjoyable games in a genre that’s become synonymous with “wanking material for pathetic nerds.”

(For the purposes of this review let’s just pretend you’re not in the “pathetic nerd” category, okay?)

Replacing the meager arcade roster are twelve brand new characters, each one challenging you with five different scrolling pictures to uncover instead of only three. Simply avoiding the enemies and uncovering at least 80% of every silhouette to finish all these rounds would be pretty simple, except it would also be missing the whole point. Your true goal on each board is to garner a perfect 100% completion rating (once again punctuated with sparkling fireworks and a brief shower of watermelons) and thus unlock a bonus shot unique to that picture, but since they instantly end with a rather incomplete victory as soon as you hit that 80% mark you’ll need to be a little crafty. By luring the boss creature into one of the corners and cutting it off from the rest of the board, you can then chip away the glowing sections on its newly-made island and subsequently uncover all the remaining silhouette in one fell swoop – all the while avoiding its frequent projectile attacks and the hordes of smaller enemies crowding the screen, of course. You get infinite continues, but exhaust your current batch of lives or the quickly-dwindling timer and you’ll have to start that round all over again. These pictures also vary significantly in terms of their ratio of silhouette to background as well as their positioning, so some are pretty easy to score a 100% on, while others are nearly impossible.

Fortunately a gallery mode lets you look at all the pictures you’ve cleared or unlocked at your leisure, and clearing all of a girl’s rounds with a 100% rating, whether in one go or on multiple playthroughs, further unlocks a massive final spread. Unfortunately despite the huge number of pictures to work on, there are only four different bosses, all of which fire slightly different variations on the same projectile attack. You’ll be seeing the same enemies over and over again, and they’re nowhere near as cool as the coinop’s giant Mode-7 centipede with its flamethrower breath, or the giant sun’s conspicuously absent ability to blast a massive laser beam that would actually cover part of the picture back up. Obviously Kaneko concentrated the lion’s share of their efforts on the actual pictures themselves; while Gals Panic 4 mostly just used the same types of scenes over and over again, this time you’ll find a wide variety of lavishly drawn poses ranging from lounging by the seashore to lovingly hefting a long, smooth . . . assault rifle. And in addition to the expected parade of school uniforms, yukata, and bathing suits, they also thought to include some interesting characters like the sporty redhead in overalls, delinquent girl gang boss, and what appears to be some sort of bow-wielding pixie.

But don’t get too excited there, Sparky – remember that the art style is aiming for saccharine cuteness rather than trying to be sexy; there might be a bit of cleavage here and there, but it’s all presented in an innocent sort of way and amazingly enough the character designs appear to be over the age of eighteen for a change. If you were hoping for the teenage schoolgirls and leather-clad queens of the later games you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed, but Gals Panic SS confounds all other expectations by being a worthy Saturn import.

No, seriously.


sho's avatar
Staff review by Sho (January 26, 2008)

Sho enjoys classic video games, black comedy, and poking people until they explode -- figuratively or otherwise. He also writes a bit.

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