I came across this game called Metagal, developed by Retro Revolution, while scrolling through the Steam Indie games list, looking for something that screamed, “Play me now!” So, I watched the trailer and my initial impressions were, this could be something special.
But before I talk about Metagal, I’d like to speak about the game which it has taken its clear inspiration from, Megaman. I am not a diehard fan of the series, but I have kept an eye on it ever since playing the original on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I was fortunate enough to skip over its brief forays into the three-dimensional world (thankfully). But, every now and then I would come back to see what the blue bomber was up to. For me, the series had reached its peak around Megaman X4 back in 1997.
But these days, the franchise seems to always be on life support, and Capcom has messed around with the fan base for the longest time. So much so, that veteran producer and designer, Keiji Inafune, organised a Kickstarter back in 2013 to develop a spiritual successor to Megaman, known as Mighty no. 9, which would also have its own management problems, along with a not so well received trailer, which didn’t help the situation either.
So that’s why I thought that Metagal could be something special. It takes so much from Megaman, the X series In particular, and gives players what they have been asking for. You play as Metagal, named after your Meta Vulcan cannon, or otherwise known as GAL.0, which stands for Generic Artificial Lifeform, a cyborg-girl built to provide assistance to their human counterparts.
But when your creator, Dr Ray, is captured, and your sisters are transformed into battle cyborgs, it is up to you to take up the fight against the reprogrammed GALS, rescue Dr Ray, and to defeat the evil General Creeper. The plot sounds very familiar, and the gameplay formula is also the same. From the selection stage screen, to defeating your opponents and gaining their abilities, which you will need to master to progress further into the story, and finally to battle through General Creeper’s fortress.
One notable difference is that your weapons will gradually recharge when not in use. This is nice, but it essentially means that some of the power-ups dropped by your enemies are wasted. A lot of them have familiar attack patterns, so if you are an experienced vanquisher of Dr Wily’s minions, then you’ll be well prepared for what’s instore.
Constantly respawning enemies are common in this type of game, but here it seems like they went slightly overboard, although the challenge overall is much more forgiving than Megamans. Navigating the menus was my biggest challenge, in the beginning, its bizarre button mapping on different screens was a constant frustration, but I eventually adapted to the varying functions. Your enemies will occasionally drop gears for you, these will allow you to restart a level from a checkpoint, rather than from the beginning of a stage. I am not the greatest player of these games by any stretch of the imagination, but with a stockpile of gears and unlimited continues, there was never any excuse for me to not push on.
What drew me into the game initially was the fantastic artwork. I love the anime style of all the characters and the drawn sprites really helps to capture the feeling of the Megaman X series. And there is a lot happening on every stage, not only in the foreground but the background too. The music is great and provides us with some very catchy tunes. But once again, I’m having to be critical of the sound effects, or sometimes lack thereof. It can be jarring when you expect something to make an epic explosion or warping sound, but hear nothing but complete silence.
It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the glaring bugs and issues plaguing the game. It crashed on me often, usually around the time that I finally managed to beat one of the sisters. I also noticed a dip in frame rate towards the end.
The tutorial was short and not very thorough. I figured out some of the controls over the course of the game, and even by the very end, I was still discovering new things which would have made my progress a lot smoother. Maybe it was my fault for not checking every button on my controller, so I guess we’ll leave that issue as a stalemate.
Fortunately, the developers have been actively updating the game, patching many of the problems it had since the games launch on the 23rd of May. During my time playing the game, it received multiple updates. They also have plans to add more content in the future, such as more playable characters.
There is a lot of talent and creativity showcased here in Metagal. With a bit more polish, like a tweaking of the controls, and a better translation from Thai to English, I wouldn’t have any issues recommending it to fans of the genre. I believe the game has plenty of potential, and could offer sequels in the future.
If you have Megaman in your blood, or are one of the backers of the Mighty no. 9 Kickstarter, and have been feeling less than impressed with their results, Metagal might just be what you need to fulfil your cravings. You can check it out online via Steam.
Tim Pearce is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. Go say hi via his Facebook page MeatbaitMedia.