Gal Metal (Switch) Review – Drumming Away
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Developer: DMM Games
Publisher: Marvelous / XSEED
Release: 2nd November 2018 (EU)
Rhythm games are a well-established genre with a steady flow of good but also never too innovative titles. So, when one sees Gal Metal for the first time, it´s almost ugly illustrations and the bizarre story, it doesn´t seem like worth bothering. However, at closer look, this particular title might be one of the most unique, interesting and new entry in the whole genre.
Late at night, a high school boy and girl are abducted by aliens, the evil Octoids! In their horrifying experiment, they transplant the boy´s consciousness into the girl´s, effectively fusing them together. Now, those two have to master their everyday lives together under the name Rinko, while at the same time deflect the Octoids´s attacks before they conquer the whole earth. Naturally, this is done through music, as Rinko is part of a heavy metal rock band as drummer!
Given, the story isn´t only absurd but pretty dumb too. On the one hand, the whole thing obviously doesn´t take itself very seriously, instead focuses on introducing one cliché after another, presumably to make jokes about them. Our main character´s/heroine´s conflict is handled as generically as you might expect, every band member is a walking stereotype and the Octoids are your typically dumb aliens. Sadly, that´s it for most of the time and Gal Metal opts more for a relaxed, predictable but not always really entertaining experience. Since it never really criticizes or makes fun of all these walking clichés, the whole thing gets quite tiresome towards the end, especially due to the length of each story chapter.
As a result, the whole thing also takes away the appeal of the optional character-dialogues one can select between the main plot and gameplay sections of each “episode”. Similar to Persona, you can decide if you wanna talk to other band members, visit stores and such from a world map. None of it is even comparable to the aforementioned game but could´ve been very entertaining if anything actually contributed to the bigger picture or grant more depth to the super flat, unsarcastically cast.
Instead, the most entertaining thing about the dialogues and plot are the sometimes awful drawings, presenting flat, unshadowed and bizarre looking environments. Each section is told like a comic book with little animations and such and looks like drawn in mere minutes. However, I really love that style because it actually trolls everything one associated with this kind of story-telling, while introducing its completely own style into the mix. Surely it´s something not anyone can enjoy, after all, you need to accept the fact they all look quite bad, still, it introduces a whole new level of stupidity, which is pretty great in my eyes!
So, the true heart, the rhythm gameplay that isn´t a rhythm game. While others may show you dozens of button prompts during each song, Gal Metal follows its relaxed, kinda dumb atmosphere until the end. Every episode has its own music section where you have to fight off the Octoids by playing heavy metal music, namely, the drums. However, this time, the game doesn´t care about anything you´re doing, as the whole thing revolves around freestyling and having fun.
So rather than diving head first into those scenes, every chapter has its own “practising” sequence, where you have to actually learn some basic drum patterns to you can use to bring some rhythm into the game. Starting out with the most basic ones until you get to some really challenging stuff, all of them are based on actual patterns, meaning, if you play the drums in real life, you´ll be pretty damn good in Gal Metal too. For the others, don´t worry, at no point does the game actually require some serious drumming, instead, it´s happy if you only memorized two or even one and execute it somewhat similar because it´s main goal is to provide some relaxing and fun drumming. It doesn´t want any special rhythms and every level can be mastered by simply shaking the Joy-Cons up and down without context.
So for everyone not into a simple kind of entertainment, Gal Metal won´t be for you. However, for those of us able to have fun with a stupid, low-budget looking game, which delivers some super relaxing, fun time for rhythm fans, this one might very well be one of the most unique things you´ve seen in this genre.
[A Review Code was provided by Marvelous]