Throw up those devil horns and get ready to rock cause Gal Metal from DMM Games is coming to Nintendo Switch. If you’ve ever fancied yourself as the next Lars Ulrich, then look no further as you will look equally as ridiculous as the old man behind the drums of a metal band. Gal Metal is a drumming rhythm game that uses the joy-con controllers to emulate the feel drumsticks. It has a lovely manga style and its story is as mad as Slayer playing at a Christian festival. It’s just a shame that the main mechanic of the game is tuned rather flat due to wonky and sometimes unresponsive motion controls.
To say that Gal Metal’s story was wacky would be an understatement. Displayed in the style of a manga, your two main characters are merged into one after being abducted by octopus-like aliens. If that wasn’t mental enough, you are tasked to end an alien invasion using the power of metal music all while juggling a social life and school. That’s not as complicated as it sounds but I will get on to that.
Gal Metal is a rhythm game but not like you know them. With games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, it was a case of following the prompts on screen and trying to hit the right notes at the right time. With Gal Metal you will be able to learn different rhythms but rather than being told what to play you have absolute freedom to play however you want. Creatively, this is a great move but mechanically it can be extremely difficult to pull off. The joy-cons aren’t always the most responsive and this can cause delays and ultimately have you losing timings and rhythms. It can be very frustrating when you’re in the middle of a song and have totally thrown off your timing.
Between “gigs” you can work part-time jobs or go do other fun things with your bandmates. You will build an affinity with each of your band mates which will unlock badges and special moments that are acted out like a puppet show. Text conversations will also take place between your group and although these can be pretty tedious they unlock these special events with your bandmates. The main reason for these sections is to build your stats. Each place you go to whether it be a café, restaurant or even an arcade will increase certain attributes. These attributes contribute to things such as combo scores and the frequency of enemy attacks. You will also have the opportunity to practice solo or with your band to help you nail the rhythms for each song. Of course, each event will consume energy and once you run out the day is over, and you will progress in the story.
It’s all about scoring big to take down your alien adversaries. Scores are dependant on a multitude of things. Each song is broken up into sections and depending on what you play within these sections determines how high your score will be. Play the same rhythm throughout the song and you won’t score very big. The trick is to experiment and chain together loads of different rhythms. You will only score big if you mix it up and hit the beats exactly. This constrains the idea of freedom as obviously, you must hit all the preloaded beats and totally going off and trying your own beats won’t come to much. The idea is to commit these rhythms to memory as you will not get any sort of beat guide during the gigs, only during practices will you get a guide. Of course, this is very reminiscent of actually playing in a rock band however, those who aren’t as musically inclined may struggle with it.
The story mode can be completed rather quickly and the scores required pale in comparison to those required in Freeplay mode. This mode is only for those who have really nailed the gameplay and have managed to get over any issues of latency. This gives the game a little bit more meat but ultimately the game is pretty repetitive no matter what way you look at it. Trying to fit in the catalogue of rhythms into each song can take a lot of practice and can actually be very difficult, but it is the only way to really mix it up and hit those huge Freeplay scores.
Gal Metal does try to open up the idea of musical expression but just fails to keep in beat. Control issues mean it can be very difficult to hit the rhythms and being even a tiny bit out means your beat won’t register. It can become frustrating until you find your groove. All the stuff in between is charming if not a little repetitive. For a game that prides itself on musical expression, it really has to sort its controls so that they flow freely and reward the player for using creative licence. Charming story, gameplay needs a tune-up.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*
- A great idea of expression even if it doesn’t fully work
- The characters are charming and the story does contain some fun moments
- Great soundtrack for any metal fans
- Latency is a big problem and hitting even slightly off beat will cause problems
- Repetitive gameplay
- No reward for good creative license