Gal Metal does a great job of shaking up expectations – from its zany story to its unconventional take on the music rhythm genre. More often than not, the ridiculous elements that make Gal Metal work, even if at times it does not seem like they should. The overall experience is an enjoyable, unpredictable one spanning more than a dozen chapters.
When I say that there are some ridiculous elements to Gal Metal, I am not exaggerating. The two core narrative constructs revolve around these octopus aliens (Octoids). They are not here to harvest our resources or perform rectal experiments on unsuspecting farmers. It turns out that they heard music of ours and they hate it – especially rock music. So they are here to conquer the people of Earth because we basically blew their ears out with sensory overload. That same loud and proud music we Earthlings play is how we will repel them as well.
Of course, if it was as simple as firing up some Guitar Hero, that would be entirely too easy. Our male protagonist soon finds himself thrust into the body of a female. What ensues from there are some hijinks about teenagers, rock music and a lot of awkward scenarios. Some of the gags work better than others, at times eliciting groans but more often than not grins. That everything is presented in a simple but appealing bright, colorful combination anime visuals / comic book panel presentation helps. Plashes of bright reds or blues against dark grays, blues and blacks. This is not a story meant to be taken seriously, but the visuals are so over-the-top that these elements just play well together.
You then spend your day doing a variety of different tasks – think of it as a less structured take on Persona’s daily activities. Then at night, the music happens. You use one remote to serve as the kick drum and the other Switch remote for the snare drum. What happens then is a very openly interpreted take on the music genre. Instead of focusing on timing specific button presses to coincide with matching note blocks that fly vertically across the screen, but coming up with your own drum beats. You get points for experimenting, because this is a very unstructured, freestyle form of drumming. That is not to say you can go wild and just randomly flip the controllers around willy-nilly, but there is a far greater feeling of self expression here than most music games. The tracks themselves are an interesting collection of classical songs converted to heavy rock tunes.
While all of the above is pretty entertaining, the pacing of the daily activities can be a bit slow and might feel as though it is bogging players down from enjoying the musical game aspects itself. That there is no online or local multiplayer also feels like a bit of a missed opportunity as I can see this being a pretty solid party game the way Guitar Hero used to be. It can also take a bit of time to get used to the motion controls. It is great to see a title like this that takes advantage of the Switch’s controls, just like some of the most popular Wii and Rock Band games of old did, as it can create a great sense of immersion.