Finland’s most prolific publishers of attainable platinums, Ratalaika Games, are back with another cross-buy title. This time they are tackling the jump and shoot genre (their description and way better than “run and gun”) with Metagal which riffs pretty hard on the classic Mega Man style of gameplay and graphics offering some cheap and cheerful presentation and, of course, a sickeningly easy double platinum for those of you who want them.
You play as Meta, a cyborg girl, or ‘gal’ I guess, who is the only one of her family left after General Creeper kidnaps her sisters and Dr Ray, the man who created them all. The story is told via some basic cut-scenes and then you are thrust into battle with the mission of beating each sister after they are turned into battle cyborgs and tasked with destroying you. However, this is after a few screens worth of 2D platform-based action and it is here where the game has its best ideas.
While the actual platforming gaming is fairly mediocre, there is a nice risk vs. reward mechanic. You start with a revive/continue option, and can pick up more, and this let’s you continue from wherever you lose all your energy (or fall to your death). If you don’t use it, you’ll go back to the start of the level or the last checkpoint that you passed. If you do use it, you’ll lose no progress. However, it can also be used to recharge your energy in game too. So do you struggle through a level and stockpile it all for the boss battle or do you do what it takes to get to that point, using up as much energy as necessary, and then do your best to learn that boss’ patterns using the checkpoints but less energy up front?
It’s quite a good system and one that gives you the opportunity to get quite far while being rubbish, almost as if you were using that as a practise run. You’ll need it too because Metagal can be ruthless. The platforming can feel a little twitchy and death can come pretty easily thanks to collapsing platforms, lasers and spikes. Generally enemies don’t tend to cause as many problems as the general obstacles in each level but the combination of both can be taxing, especially as an enemy can mess up your timing on jumps and they have a nasty habit of reappearing after you kill them.
This is where the game’s next good idea comes in. If you can beat a boss, you’ll take her weapon and can use it later on. These tend to be pretty useful with homing lasers and shields making up just some of the selection on offer. Don’t get it twisted though, the game is still going to be tough and each new boss will definitely cause you some real issues, especially if you weren’t raised on this style of game. Indeed, the game has four levels unlocked from the start and the screenshots you can see are from those levels. The game’s other four levels are still out of this reviewer’s grasp.
So how does such old-school, taxing gameplay lead to such an easy platinum? Well, the game only requires you to beat one level before it gives up the final trophy. This is kind of a shame because the game’s challenge is a half decent quality and one that most players won’t experience. They definitely should have given players a few difficulty levels but essentially there’s no real motivation to proceed after level one unless you’ve got a review to produce or if twelve or so Mega Man games aren’t enough for you.
That said, this isn’t a classic. Sure, you jump and you shoot and it can be fairly engaging as you try to get good at it but the game’s retro look is pretty tired, the enemies are uninteresting, the shooting isn’t particularly satisfying and the platform action can get frustrating. The boss battles can also seem like a particularly tough cherry on top of a bollocksly hard cake. If you really love tough 2D games, this may appeal but it doesn’t feel particularly well-engineered when it comes to level design and ultimately that’s what matters.
Metagal‘s main problem is that there are so many games in this field now and most of them have better movement, better combat and often are stuffed full of roguelike mechanics to keep you playing. We do applaud that the game has ACTUAL LEVELS and not just some randomly generated bullshit though and that’s not nothing. But this is what it is. A mobile game running on an expensive current gen console that is capable of playing Horizon: Zero Dawn. It’s cheap though and, as ever, Ratalaika do give you a quick reason to drag your Vita out of your sock drawer and maybe the game suits that format a little better with it’s bright colours popping nicely on the OLED screen and the short levels lending themselves to shorter play sessions. Although the risk of lashing it into a wall is real if you’re serious about beating the game.
One major problem for us was that the PS4 version is sometimes prone to glitching out. We’ve had the game crash out, freeze and we’ve even seen our main character disappear and appear to get stuck behind the scenery. When this happened during a good run it absolutely caused the game to lose our trust. Difficulty is one thing but at least make sure your game works. Especially when you’ve released it on every imaginable format previously.
So, yes. It’s really hard to recommend this one. We suspect there’s a good game in there that just a few tweaks could bring out but let’s call this one what it is. A cheap port with a couple of cheaper platinums.
+ Good risk vs. reward elements
+ Clever weapon stealing mechanic
+ May appeal to some retro gamers
- Not particularly fun
Couldnt agree more. Good review. Disappointing game.
I gotta say I disagree for once on this one. I feel the game deserves at least a 5 or 6 on the low side, no more than a 7 on the high end. I really liked this game. It did glitch out platforms for me, but beat it in an afternoon or less.
It also contains secrets to be found within the stages using the boss items to reach new areas. To give a review before beating the game seems like a poor work ethic as a professional reviewer, but I suppose if it glitched much worse for you then perhaps you couldn’t complete it for to the technical difficulties. I never experienced those glitches so I can’t speak of them.
The music was good albeit a little different per level style wise, graphics are good, gameplay could’ve been a little tighter, but for a $4 price tag do we expect the world? I didn’t. I think it should run properly, but I believe the latest patch fixed these issues. This game is pretty much a one and done although you can play the game with the bosses after beating it and it looks like the stages change a little, but I honestly didn’t see the need to delve back in just yet.
The easy trophies do lessen the incentive. At the same time games are meant to be enjoyed for what they are and trophies shouldn’t feel like a slog or be the driving force. I’ve played three ratalaika games where the Platinum popped 20 minutes in or so and beat the entire game because I liked it. Then there are others I was happy taking my plat and calling it a day, which I think is what the appeal is here for all kinds of gamers. Trophies should enhance the experience or elongate the life of the game, but if the game is mediocre at best then I’m not going to press on for the Platinum, unless it’s super easy.
All in all I wasn’t blown away, but I enjoyed what was here. Could it have been executed a bit better, sure, most things can. Was it a pile of garbage? No, not even close. Play burly men at Sea, thank God it was free for me. This game mirrors Megaman X over Megaman, which is a big difference. It may not be Earth shattering of a game, but as a budget title and a game that tried something new for it’s genre I found it satisfying more than not.
Nice that you failed to mention the excellent level design and refreshingly crisp art direction. I also like how you spend most of the review talking about how decent the game is, only to trash it at the end.
I love mediocre reviews written by snobbish types. Keep it up.
Hi, Hvelsgedp Hossenfoffer!
The level design wasn’t excellent and there’s nothing “refreshing” about pixel graphics, not when you review as many indie games as we do. Every other game has this type of art direction these days.
We talk about the good qualities and the bad ones. That’s the point of the review. This wasn’t a hate piece.
Is the review mediocre? Well, am I supposed to write pages and pages of elegant prose about a run and gun game? A port of a run and gun game in fact? There’s just not enough about the game to really say any more about it.
As for “snobbish types” well, Hvel, look at Metacritic and you’ll see that when it comes to reviewing all these indie games, there’s really usually only us doing it consistently. We’re putting in a shift, reviewing games that everyone else ignores. We’ve given Ratalaika games good scores, bad scores. There’s no agenda here. I just gave Distraint 2 a very good score. We review everything and we’re not emotionally tied to any of it. If a game is a 4, it’s a 4.
You can get personal and insult us all you like but other sites saw it the same way we did. The best advice I can give you is that only idiots get attached to their purchases.
As for saying “keep it up” well, that makes you sound like a right wanker.