You can’t kill the metal.

Title: Gal Metal
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Developer: DMM Games
Publisher: DMM Games, Marvelous USA Inc
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: A heavily narrative-driven game that doesn’t follow tradition.
Price: $30/£25
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Back in 2007, the rhythm game hype train was hurtling down the tracks, as everyone discovered plastic guitars where you could break your fingers to Through the Fire and the Flames on Expert. Further down the line, we got Rock Band, a game that allowed you and three other friends to create a band using plastic instruments, but eventually, the hype for these games faded away… Now 2018, we have Gal Metal, but does it stack up against the giants that are Guitar Hero or Rock Band?

I’ll just get it out of the way and say Gal Metal isn’t like any other rhythm game I’ve played, ever. Gal Metal is heavily story driven, unlike most rhythm games; the game starts off with a Japanese schoolboy and girl being abducted by aliens; said girl ends up having to take the back seat in her own body, as the boy is forced to take control. This is an act of revenge by the aliens because the Voyager spacecraft has been blasting heavy metal into space. Even though there’s no sound in space – I guess they picked it up on some kind of alien radio? Anyway, the aliens vow to destroy the earth through telepathy with our protagonist, but unfortunately for them, our girl is in an all-girl metal band, which we use to go head-to-head against those ugly sons of bitches!

Whilst with most rhythm games you come for the gameplay, I found myself enjoying the story more, and getting quite attached to the five main characters; the writing exhibits so much quirkiness and charm. The story is presented in a manga style, with each scene popping out as a single panel on a page, with artwork brought to us by Aoki Toshinai, the character designer for the recent Netflix Original, Dragon Pilot.

In between cutscenes and the heavy metal beatdowns, you can roam around the town and hang out with each of your bandmates at various hot spots, but they each require a certain amount of stamina, and unfortunately, you have a finite amount. But, visiting each of your friends at different locales will raise and lower individual stats; these stats help you out during concerts and give you things like multiplier boosters. This part of the game felt very Persona-esque to me, because as you visit your different band mates you may further your friendship, much like Persona’s social links. Not only can you hang out with your gal pals around town, but you can also rehearse for upcoming concerts against the aliens with band practice, which gives you chance to learn which beats are effective, and those that fall flat.

At certain parts throughout the plot, the band will get together in a group chat and talk about the upcoming concerts or just general school stuff. Each character has their own flashed out mannerisms and different speech patterns that really bring out their unique personalities. It reminds you of your own late night group chats with your uni buddies but filled with less talk of world destruction via aliens and more about how stupidly drunk you got at a party and how much you embarrassed yourself…

Now down to the actual gameplay in Gal Metal, and unfortunately for those rhythm game lovers, this isn’t your typical rhythm game with pre-determined music charts that rock out to – you only play the drums, rather than guitar. Unless you are musically talented, you may have a rough time getting used to this game like I did, which is weird because I did learn how to play the drums in school. What makes it hard to master is finding the correct tempo for each of the pre-determined beats, which can learn during the aforementioned band practice. I found out in the end that the TV was out of sync and needed to be calibrated properly, but even then, it was far different than playing the actual drums.

You can choose between buttons, touch, or joy-cons, but the most enjoyable way is using the joy-cons, and you can set it to Noodle Mode, which allows you to flail but still sort of hit decent combos.  Or you’ve got the Serious Mode that makes the drumming as realistic as possible. I found Noodle Mode more enjoyable to make it through the story and the charming thrills and spills of our all-gal metal band.

Overall, Gal Metal is tough to master but the story is so rewarding that it is worth the effort, and if you don’t get along with the joy cons, you can always use the buttons or tap away on the touchscreen in Handheld Mode. Gal Metal may not be the traditional rhythm game you were expecting, but the story alone is worth getting the game for.

The Good

  • Incredible story mode.
  • Adorable character designs and artwork.
  • Fleshed out and unique character personalities.

The Bad

  • The calibration can be a little janky to set up.
  • Hard to master for those wanting to just jump in.
  • A tad short on songs.

Family Focus

Gal Metal is rated T for Teen by the ESRB and PEGI 7. Due to fantasy violence, y’know, and aliens wanting to blow up our planet. 

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review code provided by PR for the purposes of this review.