Gal Metal – Nintendo Switch

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Title:  Gal Metal
Developer:  DMM Games
Publisher:  Marvelous (XSEED)
Website: http://www.xseedgames.com/games/gal-metal/
Genre:  Arcade, Music, Adventure, Party
Platform:  Nintendo Switch
Audience:  Teen – Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes
Release Date:  30/10/2018
Price:  $29.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.

What the Developers say

Turn the Joy-Con™ controllers into a pair of drum sticks in this brand-new rhythm game experience! Memorize drum lines and jam to 13 tracks without any sheet music or rhythm icons. How you rock is up to you!

Hold the Joy-Con™ controllers in your left and right hand as if they were real drum sticks and make music by swinging them up and down.
(Gal Metal also supports standard button and Touch Screen input.)

Swing the Joy-Con™(R) for the kick drum, the Joy-Con™(L) for the snare drum, and both at the same time for a cymbal crash.

Memorize various rhythm patterns by practicing solo or with your band and deploy them however you like to build up your Metal Power in concert battles against the Octoids.

Just using a single beat won’t be enough to rack up the points — showcase a variety of rhythm patterns and earn yourself combo bonuses. Master the art of metal and send those nasty aliens back where they came from!

Introduction

Gal Metal, best described as a rhythm-based drumming experience, has been released on the Nintendo eStore having been developed by DMM Games. This wacky, wonderful and downright weird game has players using the joy-cons as drum sticks, taking on the role of drummer in the heavy metal band, K.M.G (Kichijoji Metal Girls.) So far, there has been no mention of the wacky, the weird or the wonderful, so read on to find out more in this latest Rapid Review. 

Looks and Sounds

The opening scenes of Gal Metal set the tone for the quirky experience I was to have during my playthrough. With excellent artistry and comic-book storytelling, I was impressed by both the creativity and attention to detail. Through a series of moving comic animations, Gal Metal introduced me to the main character and the merry band of woman who form the quartet known as K.M.G. 

Starting with the whacky, the main protagonist, initially introduced as a high school boy, is abducted whilst walking home from school. The aptly named Octoids, an extraterrestial species looking not to dissimilar to an octopus, transfer the soul of said boy into the body of a high school girl. What follows is a quest to take the Octoids down with the only thing the high school group know, Metal. Although a very bizarre story, it was very much in keeping with the atmospheric tone and upbeat nature of the game which I liked.

In keeping with both the aesthetic and the games name, heavy metal music is the order of the day where audio is concerned. Ever present in the main menu and during gameplay, it is varied and interesting enough to keep it feeling fresh. Being someone who isn’t too much of a metal fan, at least not since my young teen days, I thought the developers had down very well to successfully integrate this genre of music into the game without making it overbearing. What I did not like, however, was the typically ‘supermarket aisle shopping’ music found in the comic book cut-scenes. It felt out of place and meant that the atmosphere was lost at pertinent parts of the story. This felt very much an oversight and let down the otherwise brilliant artistry on display. 

Gameplay and Replayability

Once the introductory tutorial and story setting is complete, the game offers three distinct ways to interact with it. First and foremost is the rhythm based music mode. Taking the joy-cons, one in each hand, you are tasked with providing the backdrop to each song with the drums. This mode was a breath of fresh air, namely for two reasons. Number 1: the joy-cons were responsive and made me feel like a drummer as soon as I picked them up! Number 2: how you drum to the music is entirely up to you. Unlike Guitar Hero and the like, Gal Metal puts you in control of how you perform. It rewards you for creativity, musical thought and variety as you listen to the music and decide how best to utilise the kick drum (right joycon), snare drum (left joycon) or the rather satisfying cymbal crash (both joycons at the same time.)

What became quickly apparent to me as I played alongside by bandmates is how complex this offer of free-flowing rhythm based action must have been to develop. As someone with an appreciation of music, but no ability to play an instrument whatsoever, it was clear that although the game appreciated my efforts, it was not going to shower me with compliments for my execution. Many a time did it let me know at the end that more practice was needed – quickly verified when the whole song replayed at the end to share with me my poor endeavors with the drum sticks! 

This brings me to the main issue I had with Gal Metal. I found it too easy to progress through the story without really having to hone my skills on the drums. The sheer number of points I was able to obtain during each song was far greater than that which was needed to fend of the extraterrestial beings and meant that rarely did I have to play the same song twice. It therefore didn’t encourage me to develop my skillset as much as I would have liked. On the other hand, it does offer ‘Solo’ and ‘Group’ practice modes which can be used during free time outside of a gig.

As part of the aforementioned free time, you are given a set amount of stamina and time to use as you see fit. The activities on offer are categorised into: Work, Play, Club and Other. These activities are simulated once selected, and offer different rewards based on the choices made. For example, hanging out at the cafe will increase one of the five attributes, Passion. The other four include Morality, Guts, Kvit, and Activity. These subsequently affect your playstyle and rewards at gigs. This mode is a quick and efficient way to improve your stats and builds relationships with your bandmates. As seen in the image below, your bandmates are also using their freetime on activities and you can choose to join them at their location. 

Further to the two modes already discussed, the final gameplay element is the text-based story development. Through a series of ‘texts’ shared between the band mates in a group chat on a mobile phone displayed on screen, the characters discuss the latest plot development and share their feelings about it. This can, at times, feel rather tedious – especially when asked to respond to one of the band members with a suitable emoji sticker…

For the most part, these three gameplay elements work in harmony to produce a game which is inventive, interesting and rewarding. I fear, however,that the story and the gameplay itself may marginalise the potential audience of Gal Metal as it will definitely not appeal to everyone. It provides enough variety to try to appeal to all, especially with the option to play the game with motion control, button presses, or via touch screen, however it is just too unique to succeed. 

Conclusion

When all is said and done, Gal Metal is a game with a clear vision and one that has been executed extremely well. It won’t interest the masses, and I feel the developers may know that. What it will do, however, is provide a truly worthwhile experience unlike no other to anyone willing to take the plunge. Whether a fan of heavy metal, a fan of rhythm games, a fan of motion controls, or just someone looking for something that little bit different, there is a lot of joy to be had here. 

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

3 and a half out of 5

You can purchase Gal Metal on the Nintendo eShop on October 30th at the following address, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/SkyScrappers-1455060.html

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