Beat up foes, hit those beats and travel through a highly musical world.
Rhythm games are my bread and butter, which has been a blessing for me on Nintendo Switch. From the crazy antics of VOEZ to the more traditional workings of SUPERBEAT XONiC EX, the selection has been great. So when another game comes around, my first question is always this: what does it add to the landscape? Muse Dash immediately answers that questions without hesitation.
Muse Dash, developed by PeroPeroGames, sees players jumping and slashing at anything that comes their way. The enemy and obstacle placement is layered over a music track, which is what makes the whole thing tick. This might sound straightforward, but you quickly find out that most notes aren't color coded. The enemies come in, and you have to assume where to go. This creates a unique challenge that I really enjoy. That being said, the game doesn't leave you completely in the dark as long notes and normal pick-ups are still clearly indicated.
What I find grand about Muse Dash is the game's initial challenge. For every mistake that you make, you will lose health, which is very costly. You can only make a small number of mistakes before your run goes up in smoke. On the flipside, I felt thoroughly rewarded for staying in the zone as long as I possibly could. The huge combos will not only net you a big score, but also increase the Fever Meter. By maxing it out, the Fever Meter gives you status effects depending on the character and costume you play with. For example, if you are playing in Buro's schoolgirl outfit, you become invincible during that time frame. When Muse Dash initially came out on Switch, you couldn't manually activate Fever Mode. Recently, the game got an update to make this version the one to play.
What isn't a slouch either are the many control options available on the Switch version. Every controller is supported, with touchscreen controls present in handheld mode. While the latter will be very comfortable for those coming from mobile devices, I found myself really clinging to the button controls. The mixture of beat 'em up and music game just made it feel right to play this way. There was something about racing through the menus, selecting the things I wanted to have enabled, and quickly jumping into gameplay.
In terms of Muse Dash's progression system, I have to say that I quite liked it. By finishing up songs, players will earn experience points and steadily level up. This will give you access to new songs and other trinkets to keep the game constantly evolving. The harder difficulties will net you more experience, but I do feel that the easier options really help you to learn the songs. I found the final option, Master difficulty, extremely daunting though. The patterns made me really mad, and it only seems enjoyable for the most hardcore of players. Every song, every difficulty I might add, also offers challenges that force you to pull out your best moves.
Isn't there anything I don't like about Muse Dash? Well, there is one thing honestly. To get access to the costumes and special Elfin helpers, which both grant you special effects, you will need to seek out special items. The way you get these trinkets isn't well explained, forcing you to scramble to find them. Suffice to say, it was a grind to unlock some of these and get the most out of the game. Mind you, it doesn't hurt the gameplay for the most part, but it is something that left me hanging. The music gets you ready for another battle at least, and the game is constantly being updated with new songs to boot.
The presentation of Muse Dash is quite solid. The game has this fun animated style that almost immediately comes into its own. The action is quite well put together, and it really gets you in the groove. The experience is colorful, sharp, and just a joy to behold. That being said, I do think that some English sentences throughout the game could've benefited from a bit more polish. The musical balance of Muse Dash is quite strong. There are a lot of Asian tracks, of course, which you would probably expect from a title like this. Players can offset the balance to their liking, ensuring that they can hit any notes coming their way.
Muse Dash is an entertaining rhythm game that forces the player to constantly act. The notes coming your way aren't for the faint of heart, and there are challenges to keep you looking ahead. The music selection and various options are quite impressive, too, even if I wouldn't dare touch Master difficulty for the life of me. While the progression system is mostly sound, I feel that the grind towards stat-altering costumes is somewhat harsh. In addition, the English text lines could have used a little more editing. Those points aside, this is the most complete experience of Muse Dash yet with a constant stream of updates in the pipeline.