Game Title: Gal Metal
Company: Marvelous, XSEED Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail (DLC Included) | Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 4.5 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 2.8 GB

With as many rhythm games are out there in the world, it’s a known fact that they typically don’t have storylines to them. The Hatsune Miku Project Diva series did eventually get a storyline-centric game, but it took them 3 PSP games, a 3DS game, and 3 Vita games before Project Diva X came with a plotline and dialogue from the Divas.

The Switch’s rhythm games have been off and on with stories. Deemo has a storyline to it and a particularly-tragic one at that, but most others don’t really have a lot of plot to them. They’re just music games where you play music.

XSEED Games, however, just brought over a new rhythm game to the West for all you Drummers out there and it’s got tons of plot to cycle through. Here is my review of Gal Metal for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

gal 2 - story

Gal Metal is about a guy and girl that live in Japan who are abducted by aliens and both placed inside the girl’s body by aliens aiming to destroy Earth for the Voyager Satelite’s accidental destruction of their own home planet. With mere days left, they must go to the girl’s school and pose as her to gather up her friends in the Metal Band Club and their unique power to harm the aliens: The Power of Metal Music.

The story of the game is very cute and comical, showcased in a comic book/anime fashion with comic tiles for each of the scenes. There is good and bad, though. The good is that you can unlock special scenes for each character, showcasing funny little scenes of you hanging out with them and showing their personalities.

The only thing I don’t like is that the story tends to drag a bit during the chatroom sections.

Gameplay

gal 6 - countdown

Gal Metal is a freestyle-oriented rhythm game with some light RPG and Social elements thrown into the mix. You’ll be playing through songs with the joy-cons or buttons like any other music game, but you also have “daily life” segments where you can do stat management and hang out with other characters.

When you go into the game, you have a few game modes to choose from: Story Mode, Free Play, Practice, and Mode Change. You can go into the different songs in Free Play and Practice to play through them, but you can’t do that until you go through Story Mode to unlock them. So, really, you only really have Options and Story Mode to do until you progress further into the game.

Progressing in Story Mode is pretty different from other music games. Each chapter gives you a certain amount of time to go around town and partake in part-time jobs and hanging out to increase your stats, along with practicing to learn new rhythms to use in concerts.

gal 4 - events

This is also where character events can be viewed. As you spend time with characters in the same areas, or make certain dialogue choices during chatroom events, you unlock special events between you and the other members of the band. These events don’t give you any rewards, but they do offer cute little scenes for you to view and special trophy-like Badges if you’re more of a completionist, or just really want that “Eri’s BFF” badge like I did.

When you run out of time, or choose to go into it, you’ll perform a concert where you play Metal Music to fight off the alien invaders. This is very different from a typical rhythm game because you don’t have set inputs to do that fly towards you on the screen. As the band’s drummer, it’s up for you to decide what sort of beats and rhythms to use with the current song you’re playing. Each chapter gives you a few beats to practice for that song and it’s up to you to decide what you want to do.

gal 3 - gameplay

This creates a bit of uniqueness as there is no “Fail mid-song” feature like other music games and you can use anything you want. As long as you can perform the beats and build up enough points to pass, you’ll proceed to the next chapter. I’ve never played a music game like this and, as a drummer in high school and college of my own life, appreciate the idea of a “freestyle” method of performing concerts.

As far as how much stuff there is, this game has a pretty short tracklist. They’re all unique tracks and not real-world songs (as far as I know), but there’s only 13 of them. If you throw the story content in as well, the game clocks in at only around 5 hours. For a $30 game, that’s not a whole lot of content to go around.

Controls

Here’s where the game is unique, but also has short-comings. There are 3 ways to play Gal Metal: Joy-Cons, Touch Screen, Buttons. The Joy-Cons use motion controls to be whipped forward like real-world drumsticks for special hits while the Touch/Button controls have specific areas of the screen specified with different drums that you hit for each note impact.

These ways of playing are very unique, but each has its own faults. Obviously, the more technical beats are way easier with motion controls, but the motion inputs are largely inconsistent. When I played (and went back and recalibrated many times), the left joy-con followed my inputs pretty consistently, but the right joy-con did not. Sometimes, it would work correctly and other times, it would completely miss when I move it just as far as I do the left Joy-Con.

Because of this, I often switched over to the button controls for play, and it has its own short-comings. The button controls do work, but the input isn’t always that precise. There’s always a slight amount of delay between hitting a button and the note being put into a combo. I did this with the Joy-Cons, the Pro Controller, as well as handheld mode. You can adjust to it, but it remains awkward from start to finish.

Presentation

gal 5 - pres

Graphically, this game looks very cute and unique. The cell-shading during concerts is very colorful, crisp, and smooth. I never saw any jagged edges as I played through the game and that style does give it a bit of a unique look to it over other rhythm games.

Performance I have no issues with. THe frames never drop and all the load times are nice and quick.

Battery Life

The amount of Battery Time is pretty nice, honestly. Most of the game isn’t 3D, but you still get quite a bit. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Note: The following readings were all taken within 3D gameplay. Not the 2D Map sections.

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 58 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 33 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 52 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 23 minutes

All in all, you could get almost the entire Story done in one charge.

In conclusion, Gal Metal is a very unique music game with freestyle drumming and a ton of comedic story to keep sci-fi fans entertained. It is definitely brought down by the fact that none of the control schemes get it quite right, the dragging chatroom story sequences, and the short overall amount of content, but if you’re a music guru, it’s a cute game to trek through.

Final Score: 7/10