Gal Metal was a a surprise when XSEED announced its existence. Music games were a hot commodity in the gaming world a few years ago but they haven’t seen much love lately with countless plastic guitars collecting dust in pawn shops worldwide. Hearing about a new music game coming out was unexpected to say the least, and before learning anything about the game, seemed misguided. Fortunately, Gal Metal is not a clone of the previously popular rhythm games at all. The game mechanics are completely different and the basic idea behind the game couldn’t be further than trying to perfect a five colored note highway, more information on which can be found in our interview with the producer.
The first thing that sets Gal Metal apart from other games about chasing rock stardom is the outlandish story. After the citizens of Earth decided to broadcast the Golden Record from the Voyager probe, the god awful racket ruined any semblance of peace on the eight tentacled extraterrestrial neighborhood in outer space so these disgruntled aliens want world domination. The only thing that is standing in the way being continued peaceful existence and an alien invasion is metal. So here is where things get weird. The aliens abduct some student from the Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji and merge his soul with Rinko, the drummer in the high school’s all girl metal club. Two souls are stuck in one body, and they have to team up to prevent the aline invasion, but before we get into the game, let’s take a minute to introduce the band. KMG (Kichijoji Metal Girls) are sci fi nerd Kia on synthesizer, rich girl Mani on bass, delinquent Shiimi on lead guitar and gentle giant Eri on rhythm guitar.
Gal Metal is a rhythm game but it requires no extra equipment or plastic drum kit. There are a few different ways to play the drums for KMG. What will likely be most popular is swinging the Joy-Cons as if they were drum sticks, which when swung together can create a crash symbol sound. A pro controller can also be used to map the different individual drums to a button, like X can be snare, Y can be floor tom, A can be china cymbal and so on. A similar configuration can be done with the touch screen. There are different preset beats that the player can practice and as the story progresses new and more difficult beats can be unlocked to increase the versatility of the Rinko/random student abomination’s drumming repertoire.
When I got to play Gal Metal I was initially confused. I heard the other instruments of the band playing just but there was no guide for what I was supposed to do on the drums. I recognized the music as it was a metal rendition of a classical piece but no highway for what the do with the drums. The person demoing the game said just play, and suddenly it clicked. Gal Metal is not about perfectly mimicking an existing drum beat. The goal is to listen to the music and feel it, to create your own rhythm, to bring whatever the music inspires within you outside to share with others. The different beats are in the game to serve as tools, and as you get better you add more and more tools to your belt and each level even has a space to save your own created beat. Knowing the exact point to end each beat with the Joy-Con takes some getting used to in order to feel out where the stopping point is or maybe more time needs to be spent in calibration, but the goal is to just drum however you wish and more points are awarded for doing more complicated beats in time with the song.
Gal Metal is a game that puts creativity and improvisation above everything else. The reason each song is a metal version of a classical piece is there’s no set drumbeat for any of them, so each player will create a drum part that is unique to them. Like drums or any musical instrument for that matter, picking Gal Metal and getting the basic concept is easy, but actually mastering it will required countless hours of devotion. But seeing a music game that encourages creativity over perfection is refreshing, as most people who’ve played in actual bands will attest that composing and performing your own songs is much more satisfying than trying to perfect another cover. Gal Metal is coming out this fall for the Switch.