Wednesday, October 31

Review: Gal Metal [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While the likes of Guitar Hero and its ilk went down pretty hard in the end I still enjoy a solid music and rhythm game. When I first saw information on Gal Metal I wasn’t quite sure of what to make of it, curious about how serious the music elements would be and then what the glue would be to hold it all together. Now having jammed through some tunes to hold off an alien invasion, talked about all manner of weird topics with my girls in a chat room, and hung out with or worked a shift with them I’ll at least say this: Gal Metal is absolutely and un-apologetically its own thing… and ideally you’ll get into expressing yourself on the drum set.



Separating the music from the rest of the game we’ll start with the weirdo story and non-musical elements. Starting with the oddity of you playing as a boy who is in control of a girl’s body, which I suppose was done to set up some of the silly situations and dialogue you’ll encounter along the way, you’re going to just need to roll with things. To top that off aliens have come to Earth upset with the destructive music we sent out into the universe and the only thing standing in the way of annihilation is your after school rock club. In between different types of aliens being held at bay by your musical talents you’ll need to socialize, build friendships, and work on developing your stats in key areas that will give you perks and stats. To what degree any of this ultimately plays is hard to say but it most definitely gives the game a unique and unexpected flavor.



On the musical side of things I’d wager people will be divided since its approach is very different from what you’ve gotten accustomed to. In most music games like Rock Band or countless others the emphasis is on you executing pre-set charts and your success is measured by your accuracy. While you’ll learn core rudiments and beats that you’ll want to play with some consistency in order to get your score rolling what you’re provided the opportunity to do in Gal Metal is experiment with different rhythms and sequences… a sort of music game equivalent of improvisation. In terms of executing this you’ll have a choice between using motion controls, buttons, or the touchscreen and for me there’s no contest, the touchscreen is by far the easiest way to go. I’d consider the motion controls at least novel, and some people may dig them, but the consistency using touch controls is preferable and while the buttons work well enough I found them increasingly uncomfortable and it was tough being accurate with the Z triggers specifically.



While Gal Metal won’t be for everyone it’s absolutely a unique title that caught me by surprise on multiple levels and that grew on me as I got more comfortable with its approach to the music. Much like real improv getting started with playing around in the music with different beats and combinations can be a complete mess, but with time and some confidence you can surprise yourself. While the story elements are completely bizarre they at least made me laugh, though I’d be curious just how much cultivating friendships and building specific stats influence things. Regardless, Gal Metal is a fresh take on music games and stands out from the crowd if you don’t mind its quirks.



Score: 7

Pros:
  • In general, with its emphasis on expression over rote execution, it’s a very forgiving music game
  • It can be fun to explore different beats with the game’s various charts
  • Outside of the music pretty well everything is uniformly silly, which can be fun even if not all of the humor connects

Cons:
  • If you were hoping for a musical experience akin to the likes of Guitar Hero you’ll likely be disappointed by the lack of structure
  • The story elements are a bit of an acquired taste and it’s hard to gauge their necessity to things
  • While motion controls and the buttons are supported got docked play, results with the touchscreen in handheld mode are generally much more consistent