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Gals Panic S Extra Edition (Arcade) artwork

Gals Panic S Extra Edition (Arcade) review


"One of the most striking differences actually won't impress a lot of folks: there are fewer bared breasts to see. The highlight of the original Gals Panic was that you could clear stages three times to finally uncover a drawing that portrayed the lovely lady of your choice with bosom exposed, smiling sweetly. Then the game would flash to a photograph of the girl that inspired the sketch—in the same pose—and that would stay on the screen long enough for adolescents to sigh adoringly before things progressed to the stage selection area. In Gals Panic S, that simply doesn't happen."



Games have come a long way since I first saw a Gals Panic cabinet while visiting a truck stop with my father. At the time, I remember thinking that I would like nothing more in the world than to plop in a few quarters and use my elite skills to reveal nicely-drawn sketches of cartoon girls in lingerie, but I had no money on me and my dad generally had little patience for entertainment (or, I was sure, sexy hand-drawn trollops). It was not to be. Only now, fifteen years later, am I able to belatedly experience what I couldn't in my early teens.

As it turns out, I didn't miss much. There just isn't much to the Gals Panic series. The goal in each one is simply to move an icon around the screen, gradually drawing adjoining shapes. As you section off an area--usually a square or rectangle but sometimes something else if you're getting creative--it will flash and fade to reveal part of the background image. To complete a stage, you must do this to a set percentage of the board without running out of lives... because there are hazards that will try to bump into you or shoot at you along the way.

Gals Panic S is like its fellows in this regard, but a few differences set it apart and allow it to serve as the crowning moment in a franchise that never really went anywhere (despite the numerous installments).

One of the most striking differences actually won't impress a lot of folks: there are fewer bared breasts to see. The highlight of the original Gals Panic was that you could clear stages three times to finally uncover a drawing that portrayed the lovely lady of your choice with bosom exposed, smiling sweetly. Then the game would flash to a photograph of the girl that inspired the sketch--in the same pose--and that would stay on the screen long enough for adolescents to sigh adoringly before things progressed to the stage selection area.

In Gals Panic S, that simply doesn't happen. There are 12 lasses to choose from--each of them cute and Asian in an anime sort of way that makes actual guesses at age and race impossible--and you complete a given stage only once. Then you'll watch a panoramic scroll over a titillating drawing of said girl in a provocative pose but with nary a shot of nipple or rump. To see 'the goods,' you'll actually have to wait for a 'Show Time' area (accessible after you clear several stages) where there's a brief image of a girl lounging about naked, then maybe a close-up shot. These are hand-drawn and they don't display long before it's on with the adventure.

Surprisingly, the lack of nudity doesn't hurt this entry as much as it could have. Gals Panic definitely had the upper hand in terms of flesh on display, but it relied on that almost exclusively and paid less attention to rewarding gameplay. That's what makes Gals Panic S such a treat: it recognizes the flaws of its predecessor and addresses them. One way it does so is by providing more even progression. The stages start out fairly simple, with monsters and attacks that are truly avoidable. It's not long before their assaults evolve into something more deadly, but it doesn't feel cheap when that happens. At least, it doesn't frustrate to the same degree that it did in the original.

Your adversaries have numerous ways of attacking. Some will send out bursts of shrapnel so deadly and abundant that you'll swear they spend off days populating the skies of a typical Psikyo shooter. Others simply send a trail of homing shots, while still others don't blast at all but instead careen toward you, kamikaze-style.

The attacks you face aren't always fatal. Many can be avoided simply by not trying to draw a segment when you know one is coming. Playing too cautiously works against you, though, because it affects your score. If you're playing for personal satisfaction--and you must be, since the nudity is so negligible--then you'll work especially hard to strike that perfect balance and to plan out your moves in a way that allows you to progress unharmed. You also want to step lively because there are times when your opponents can undo some of your work. One dragon-like creature will start flashing, then bounce around clearing any panels in his path, while an orb-shaped sentry will fire walls of blazing aura that have similar effect. You must not only avoid these devastating moves, but watch in dismay as they vaporize some of your success.

Just the act of requiring strategy on the player's part shows that the developer was starting to get the hang of this whole video game thing. At the same time, though, things don't move so far in that direction as to ditch some of the off-beat humor that appeared in the original. For proof of that, look no further than the stage where you must work feverishly to unearth a portrait of two muscle-bound men hugging and shaving one another (that armpit hair simply must go) with obvious affection. It's rather amusing, and certainly not as annoying as the portrait switches that so often proved a nuisance in the first Gals Panic game.

In spite of its improvements and place at the head of the pack within its franchise, though, Gals Panic S is still an affair that most will approach with commendable hesitation. Certainly, there are better titles available within the genre that will provide a more lasting experience. If you happen to stumble across this version in a truck stop (unlikely since I believe this was a Japan-only release), though, and if you have a few minutes to kill, you could do a lot worse than to drop in a quarter or two. It's no classic, but the game is fair at what it does and that counts for something.

Rating: 6/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (June 22, 2008)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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whelkman posted June 22, 2008:

I haven't played 'S', but the vanilla "Gals Panic" was terrible. It's hard to imagine someone making Qix worse, but there you go. The number of ways for you to die and relinquish quarters is obscene.
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honestgamer posted June 23, 2008:

They're difficult games, all of them, but this one felt fairer and that was something that by itself made this one better than the 'vanilla' one. I believe I gave that version a 3. This one is probably a bit on the tough side even now, but overall the game is more polished. The only part of me less satisfied with this installment was the pervert, and I figure gameplay trumps boobs anyway. I try to tell myself that, at least.

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