Gal Metal Review02/11/2018
I think it is no secret that the Nintendo Switch has some unique games in its catalog. From games such as 1 2 Switch to Pato Box, the Switch has provided us with many different ways to utilize the joy cons as a motion controller in some goofy way or another. When I first saw DMM Games Gal Metal, it set all my alarms off in the best way possible.
1) Cutesy anime-esque artwork? CHECK.
2) Heavy Metal? CHECK
3) Using my joy cons as drumsticks to play that Heavy Metal? CHECK
For a guy like me that frequently listens to Dragonforce, Dethklok, and Rhapsody of Fire, this everything I could ask for in a black bowed present on Christmas morning. So did Gal Metal live up to the excitement that myself and others put into it? Let us look at the game!
Gal Metal is a rhythm game first and foremost. The main gameplay sees you playing the drums along the rest of your bandmates. You play a beat in time with the band. The better you keep the timing, the more points you will get. You have the freedom to play whatever you want and will be rewarded when you play different beats. However, on top of being a rhythm game, it also has one of the best stories in a music game I’ve ever played. The story sees a boy and girl from a Japanese high school abducted by aliens, only for those aliens to put both their minds in the same body as payback because of all the heavy metal music that the Voyager spacecraft broadcasted to the rest of the galaxy. This alien race, that happens to all be an octopus, have vowed to destroy the galaxy, and it’s your job to play that heavy metal they hate so much to repel their attacks. Sounds a lot like me repelling my parents away from my bedroom when I was 16 and playing Cowboys From Hell on guitar.
The story mode is unique because it is told via Japanese manga. You and your bandmates are all high school students, and so your communication with each other is mostly through texting on your phone. The camaraderie between the girls in very entertaining to say the least. There is a large amount of quirky back and forth commentary between the girls that gave me the giggles, like a schoolgirl! When you are not fending off the evil Octodads of the universe, you are doing things that a normal kid does. In a lot of ways, this reminded me of the Persona series! Doing activities such as part-time jobs, hanging out your band or going to different shops around the town will boost stats, though it sometimes can boost some but drop others! These activities can also be done with your bandmates. This is where you will get a lot of the side stories that are happening. You can practice the next song that will be played when the aliens attempt to invade, but honestly, I never did and I did just fine. You have only so much time to do these activities though. Each endeavour will take away so much stamina and after you run out of stamina, the day will be over. The next day is usually a fight against the aliens. This is a rinse and repeats for the majority of the story mode.
The concerts that you perform to repel the alien attacks are where the drumming takes place. You can practice the song to see what drumming patterns the game thinks you should play, but they are not necessary. There are 40 different patterns you can do to rack up points. The problem most people will have is if they have no experience with drums. Hell, I’ve had my fair share of time behind a drum set and I struggled. I found there were many times when a single swing of the joy con would result in double hits and that would throw the pattern off. The rest of the band sound like seasoned pros. It would be as if being in a band with Dream Theater, you take the role of Portnoy and yet you’ve only been drumming for a month…it’s not always very pretty. To top it off, during the concerts there is no drum track to look at. Your only guidance is to hear the song and figure out what the best bet would be to go along with it. It is especially embarrassing when after the performance, they play back the performance and you get to hear all the spots where you fumble around like a fish out of water. Somehow though, as long as there is some kind of rhythm, you will gain enough points to pass the song.
If using the joycons as drumsticks is not your thing, or you don’t have space to do it, you can also switch the controls to the buttons on the console or even to the touchscreen. I am not going to lie, as cool as it is to have the full drum set on the screen with the freedom to let your inner Dave Lombardo fly, this is very difficult. It can be daunting to see a full drumset and you will usually find yourself trying to pull off fills and it sounds rough. Keeping the time is hard enough, and if this game were about pop punk, this would be a different story. It will take a lot of time to get used to either method, but in time you too can sound like a drumming madman!
Gal Metal is a very ambitious game that in the likes I’ve never seen in any rhythm game before. From my deep background with Guitar Hero, Rockband and Rocksmith, I’ve never had so much fun with a story mode. I wish that there were more than 13 songs available. It would be neat to have a way of downloading songs off a network to jam along to. The problem most people will have is that, unless you are a drummer, this game will be difficult to play and be good at. With a bit of practice though, that game will charm you with the art, story and the heavy metal goodness \m/