Just wanna rock and roll all night and beat aliens every day
Gal Metal, on paper, sounds like a rhythm game. You play a string of notes with your Joy-Con, put down a score and move on to the jam session. From a distance, it seems that the game very structured with certain patterns to follow. The fact of the matter is, however, this is very different from a typical rhythm game. The patterns you choose are left up to you, all the while feeling the beat of the music. The groove depends on what you can do, how you reach for fences and the performance you can muster. No, this is actually a music game. Not the best out there, but very enjoyable all the way through.
The story in Gal Metal is bananas. The Octoid Aliens have come to take over the earth. They got exposed to the tracks of the Music From Earth Record, which they are less than pleased about. Their sensors overloaded as a result, and now they are here to get their revenge. With the power of your music, you are the only one that can stop them. Hold on though, that is not where the craziness ends. You start as a male, but take over the body of a female drummer. You need to get close to her friends and work together towards that common goal. It is completely off-the-wall, but at the same time endlessly charming.
Over the course of 13 chapters, you will participate in musical segments as well as interact with the members of Kichijoji Metal Girls. The player has forty stamina points that can be spent on various after-school activities. You can go to the club, do some work or go to various locations to hang out. By doing so, certain statistics of Rinko (the main character) will improve that will help against the Octoid attacks. In addition, you will get to know various teammates a lot better. The characters that are affected depend on the location. Over time, you will see more scenes that will deepen their bonds, which I very much enjoyed watching. You shouldn't expect anything too deep, but Gal Metal tries to add character development.
The musical side of Gal Metal is rather interesting. If you aren't too familiar with music games, the learning curve might seem surprisingly steep. By swinging the Joy-Con (or using buttons and touchscreen), you will create patterns on the rhythm of the music. You start with a few options, but over time the player is encouraged to dive into the deep end. Gal Metal expects you to improvise on the fly and decide which combinations fit each line of music. Each track is divided into multiple sections where different patterns turn out for the best. Gal Metal is a steep hill to climb at first, but it feels so rewarding when you nail the entirety of a set. Once you are over the hump, your initial run might not be overly challenging. That soon changes as you return to songs that you previously mastered. The second runs have much higher requirements and force you to think outside of the box.
The Joy-Con controls feel just right. DMM Games has done a lot to make the movement with the controllers feel solid. If there are issues like a tiny bit of delay, this can easily be tweaked in the options menu. Gal Metal ensures that the player has a good time as a prime time drummer. There is an option to play the game with buttons, and I would recommend it if you really can't gel with the motion controls. The whole experience is built around jamming out and not focusing too much on your errors along the way. A good score is absolutely a nice thing to maintain, but enjoying yourself is what the game tries to achieve.
Despite there being over 400 badges (i.e. achievements) to collect, the big problem with Gal Metal is that there are only thirteen gigs to play through. While I recommend it to rabid rhythm and music game fans, the wider crowd might take issues with that lack of content. With the Story Mode only lasting five hours, it is easy to run out of things to do quickly. Secretly, I wish there were a mode where I could interact with another player. The mechanics seem perfectly suited for it, and I wonder if this was considered to be included. In either case, this isn't the most complete package you can buy, but everything present is extremely enjoyable.
Gal Metal's presentation is the highlight of the show. The game has a manga-esque art style, which I absolutely adore. It feels extremely old school, like comics from the 90's, which instantly struck a chord with me. The music, which takes inspiration from classics, surprisingly works in a metal rock setting. Naturally, I had my doubts about it, but Gal Metal takes a very organic route to make them fit in.
Gal Metal is a game with bold choices. The Joy-Con motion controls are interesting, and tightly fit the ideas of the title. In addition, the idea to create your own jams upon existing layers works surprisingly well. That being said, for most, this will be a one-and-done deal. You will play through it and be done after an hour or five. Beyond this, there isn't much to the package, though I do find myself replaying tracks a tiny bit. It really depends on what you're searching for, but as a music game, it certainly knows how to entertain.