How do you solve a problem like Galaxy Angel 2? Players looking to start this final installment will have already endured a male lead who has “developed” from Beigey McBeigerson to outright unlikeable, a selection of ladies who only manage to show brief glimmers of what could have been if they hadn’t been saddled with a writing team that seemed to hate their very existence, and a revolving door of unimpressive evil weirdos who all talk too much and all buy their generic Ships of Eviliness from the same evil military surplus store.
It’s not looking good, is it?
But Eigou Kaiki no Toki’s not going down without a fight; a game determined to not only go out with a bang but kick off with one too: Unlike the previous (and generally expected) introductory sequence of a pretty intro FMV followed by a quick recap of the previous game and then the expected slow slide into a fairly tame opening chapter we’re instead dropped into the middle of an unexplained emergency – all sirens and shouted orders and explosions and panic. Kazuya desperately dashes off to check on his beloved Angel (this is decided by the player as he’s making his way there)… only to find her room utterly devastated, the Angel in question missing, and a massive hole in the wall leading directly into the cold vacuum of space (emergency atmospheric shielding is a thing on the Luxiole, in case you were wondering)…
On its own that’d be a damned good start, but the game’s not done toying with your expectations yet: The game then smash-cuts from Kazuya’s anguished cry to the standard like-you’re-playing-an-OVA musical intro video and then unceremoniously dumps players straight into the first chapter of the game without any explanation or apology for this rollercoaster of emotions. To make matters worse they leave you hanging on this plot point for around two-thirds of the entire game – perhaps a little too long in practise, but for a series that honestly felt like it was actively killing itself off just one game ago this is a bold move that really packs a punch. In this tiny firecracker of an intro alone Kazuya demonstrates better leadership and more consideration for his fellow cast members than he did in the previous two games combined. GA2-3 doesn’t merely want to apologise for the past two games, it wants to make up for them.
Before we go any further I really need to comment on the new art style: This all-new look mercifully reverses the slightly disturbing “over-inflated chihuahua” style of the first two Galaxy Angel 2 games. Every single piece of character art and their corresponding portraits have been redrawn in this new style, and in a pleasant turn of events the quantity of art has increased in line with the quality, boasting more frequent unique event graphics than ever before and contributing to the feeling that you’re actually observing events as they happen rather than scrolling through the transcript of a radio play. The CG movie segments are unfortunately as “Well, I guess they exist” as ever, with the unchanged Angels-heading-to-battle scene as happily skippable as it ever was. It’s reasonable to assume that it would have cost more than it was worth to create a set of fresh replacements but for a pretty lengthy scene that they insist on playing before every battle it feels quite flat and more of a barrier to getting on with things than the flamboyant rallying cry it should have been. The good news is that when they did take the time to make all-new CG scenes to show off plot-related shenanigans the quality is more in line with GA2-3’s newfound love for itself and they do a good job of conveying the action.
As I’ve mentioned before the opening moments of the game aren’t so much an introduction as they are a statement of intent: The first chapter proper opens with Kazuya and his love in a sombre mood next to the grave of Roselle’s sister, recounting the events at the climax of the previous game that lead to his death. You do remember Roselle, don’t you? He was the impossibly-perfect “By the way me and my prototype craft are going to replace all of you Angels once we’ve worked out the bugs” guy who not only threatened their unique position as a special defense force powered by (essentially) love and justice but could also potentially cause a rift in the relationship between Kazuya and whoever his chosen partner was. Long story short: Not only was he not particularly pleasant to be around, but his character actively undermined some of the most fundamental aspects of the Galaxy Angel setting. Not a lot to love there, really. But this one-sided chat with a dead person neither the characters nor the player had ever met before was handled with style and grace, making for a surprisingly sensitive and sincere scene without swerving off into melodramatic misery.
So far we’ve had a shock intro and a touching moment handled well; you could almost feel hopeful after suffering through the past two games! Except GA2-3 then goes and shatters this fragile joy by reintroducing the the original and best women, the Moon Angels, in full force and in their iconic original uniforms too. Are they here to once again steal the show from under the new team’s noses? Thankfully not. The writing here frames it more as a meeting of equals rather than goddesses returning to save the day, and they leave almost as quickly as they arrive. To further underline their new role as a support act – and reassure the player that they won’t spend the rest of the game forcing the new crew into the background again – the plot then requires both the Moon Angel’s mothership Elsior and all of their original Emblem Frames (empty, I should add!) to be blown to smithereens, never to return. And the game stays true to this promise until the final battle where they do show up once again piloting generic support craft, only capable of taking out endlessly respawning minor ships while the Rune Angels take down the more dangerous targets and eventually the final boss.
At first blush battling these new enemy forces appears to be very similar to what’s gone before – and in very many ways it is – but it’s been tweaked in all the right ways and these interstellar scuffles now tend to require real input and strategy from the player; you will lose if you don’t pay attention. Fast ships are now noticeably more nimble than their counterparts in previous entries in the series and do need to be prioritised, and the slow-but-powerful cruisers will utterly destroy your home base if not destroyed or outmaneuvered. It was never going to be a fantastic stat-heavy space battle sim (and was never meant to be) but at least now it feels like a part of a game and not some brainless padding between painful chunks of dialogue.
The villains themselves have been drastically reduced in number which has the welcome knock-on effect of making those that do appear feel like a memorable and meaningful threat as opposed to a weak excuse for yet another tedious battle. And even when Sorbet (yes, Sorbet) is inevitably defeated and replaced by The True Ultimate Evil this event doesn’t feel plucked out of thin air as the plot had not only been building up to this point all along but it also managed to add something significant by raising the stakes even higher and tying in with the ending of the previous game by reintroducing a mind-controlled (and as mentioned, previously dead) Roselle as well as finally looping around and then building upon that dramatic opening.
By now I’ve hopefully established just how committed Eigou Kaiki no Toki is to being Not A Pile of Trash: Characters do things other than wait for Kazuya to admonish them for behaving exactly as they’re expected to behave, and Kazuya himself finally expresses a whole range of genuine emotions while successfully being the Angel captain and close friend that he was supposed to have been two sodding games ago.
Considering that the game had to continue on from the garbage that preceded it, GA2-3 is nothing less than an absolute triumph, tying up everything that happened before while simultaneously righting a sinking ship as it did so. Quite how they pulled this out of the bag after the iffy-but-OK Zettai Ryouiki no Tobira and “This has got to be deliberate internal sabotage” Mugen Kairou no Kagi is anyone’s guess but there’s no arguing with the fact that they did it, and I’d recommend playing Eigou Kaiki no Toki – and only Eigou Kaiki no Toki – to anyone who wants a little more Galaxy Angel in their lives. The Galaxu Angel II series as a whole is generally considered “The other one” and rightfully lost in the original Galaxy Angel’s shadow, but this last game tries so very hard to fix two games worth of major issues and does deserve to be considered fondly and treated as a good game in its own right.