Developer: DMM Games
Publisher: DMM Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Arcade, Music, Adventure & Party
Release Date: 8th of February, 2018 (JP)
Metal, a musical style that’s great for annoying your neighbours and fighting off alien invaders!
Enter Gal Metal, a heavy metal rhythm game about a girl band, developed by DMM Games. Oh, and did I mentioned there’s aliens? I realise straight away, Gal Metal must immediately sound like a silly game, but to be fair, the legendary Tak Fufii of Blades of Time, is behind it, so silliness is guaranteed anyway. But, if you think you’ve heard all the craziness, trust me there’s more, as the game’s full story is the tale of a Japanese town that gets invaded by aliens, a boy and a girl get kidnapped, and when they return, things are interesting, to say the least.
You see, the boy and the girl are now coexisting in the same body and the boy, who is now a girl, must assume Rinko Hoshino’s role as a drummer in an all-girl metal band named KMG (Kichijoji Metal Girls,) so as to help them fight the alien menace that continues to plague their home town. Something that was fun to see however, is that Gal Metal’s story, is actually told by 3 parallel stories across the game’s 13 Songs campaign, with one of them being the who body-swapping affair. Naturally, both boy and Rinko aren’t too happy by the turn of events, but acting as a separate entities, the girl’s body actually helps the boy to adjust, fit in and life. (If you’re at all familiar with the anime “Your Name,” this scenario is a lot like that.)
Then there’s a narrative driven story of events that plays out, dealing with life, interaction and your bandmates, which involved a whole lot of text messages that talk about a whole array of topics. From politics, to juggling everything life has thrown at the adolescent girls, the girls of Gal Metal just can’t wait to blow up your phone and if they’re not spamming you with text written in Kanji, they’re sending you weird emojis, for what feels like no reason at all. (Only no reason at all, if you have no idea what is being said, after all, Gal Metal doesn’t support English!)
Oh, and then there’s the aliens. Octopus-like aliens that really have it in for metal, since humanity sent up a collection of head-bangingly sweet tunage, which is nothing but a headache for the would be invaders. But instead of apologising to them, like any decent person would do, who wants to avoid a war, Gal Metal would rather see you treat their headache with more metal as opposed to aspirin. As for how it plays out, with Gal Metal being a game feature an art style befitting of a comic book, with comic book like heroes, there are comic book like cut-scenes of sorts. But that’s enough about the story, let’s move on to the gameplay shall we?
Being a rhythm game that turns the genre on its head, while playing a Pro Controller is possible, Gal Metal fully supports motion controls, which is actually the perfect way to play. As a drummer in a metal girl band, (members consisting of Rinko, Mani, Shuumi, Kia and Erii,) your job is to drum to the beat of classical songs that have been rockified and there is quite a bit to learn. Instead of the typical prompts games like Guitar Hero have given us in the past, how we play is more up to us, but a knowledge of the basics does help. So, when playing with detached Joy-Con, because you don’t play with the same rhythm, combing various rhythms is a must, to increase your score and don’t even bother looking at the indicators in front of you, as they’ll only act as a distraction.
Instead, acknowledge the bar on the top of the screen, above the chart, as there are more than 30 patterns to unlock that increase complexity and they different categories of rhythms are of course: Abyss, Rage, Beast Splash and Chaos. But most of the just listen to the music that’s playing and play what feels right to you and if the Joy-Con representing the snare and the other being the bass drum, aren’t to your liking, you can swap them around.
Now, something to bear in mind, is how you hold the Joy-Con and swing them, will cause different results, with many being bad results, but a lot of learning to play Gal Metal, is like learning how to play a drum in real life. Anyone can pick up a drum stick/Joy-Con and bash it on a surface to make a sound, but it takes finesse, skill and a willingness to experiment and learn, to actually make music worth listening to and when you find the knack, you will be racking up the points in story and free play mode, in no time at all. Just be warned story mode sets the score bar pretty low, so anyone can blitz through it, with free play mode featuring plenty of hard hitting scores for only the accomplished drummers able to stand a chance. (Worth pointing out, the songs you can play in free play mode, do require you to have beaten the song already in the main game.)
Should, for whatever reason, motion controls don’t work out for you, there are touch-screen controls and button controls if that makes things easier, but there is a little more to Gal Metal than just playing and hoping your performance passes the muster. When not playing, players can actually visit various dwellings, like a café, an arcade and even a store. Your notebook comes in handy for choosing locations to meet friends and build relationships and you’ll also be given 40 hearts that can be traded in for Skill Points on any given day. When enough days have past however, it is time to perform and get the show rock on the road, or at least the stage!
If after all that though and you’re thinking Gal Metal has nowhere enough content, there is paid DLC available from the eShop that adds the Metaru episode pack and it comes with more songs, more antics and more story. So, there is more if you want it, but you might want to stick to perfecting the easier stuff of the main game before expanding the workload with extra tracks to learn that could only confuse you further! There are also badges you can collect and with 447 of them available, it might take you a fair bit of doing! Still, if you like this type of thing and have a decent knowledge of the Japanese language, it is most certainly all worth it, in the end!
On the surface, Gal Metal might appeal to be a bizarre title you can do without, but even without a full knowledge of the Japanese language, it is a weirdly wonderful title that will punish you until you master the controls and timing, at which case it will actually start encouraging you. It is however without English support, so anyone who is willing to take a punt on what is a pretty intriguing, Switch exclusive, do need to understand that they will not be able to experience Gal Metal in its full entirety. But hey, if someone like me can kick a kick out of it, then the Japanese Gal Metal, really can’t be all that bad.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Physical Review Copy Provided by DMM Games
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This post was written by Jack Longman