MUSE DASH: `Beat’ing the Competition

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I love rhythm games. LOVE THEM! I’ve played so much Guitar Hero and DDR. I’ve played endless hours of Rock Band 1, 2 and 3. Let’s just say that I’ve sunk a lot of hours into these games. So when PeroPeroGames made Muse Dash and it fell into my hands, I was a little excited, but I didn’t think it could capture the same magic as those other titles. Surely enough, I was wrong.

Story

Well, as most of these arcade game, there is virtually no story. Three girls dress up in different outfits and fight enemies in various places by keeping the rhythm of the song. There isn’t a need for a story mode, it is all crazy colors and fun music, that’s all you need.

Gameplay

A game based on music will soar or crash on how the game feels from the second you pick it up to the late night hours after playing for an unreasonable amount of time. Muse Dash’s controls are simple and tight, two buttons. Any of the buttons or tapping on the left side and any of the buttons or tapping on the right side. You only need two differing inputs to play this game. It is easy to understand and feels great to slowly master.

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The game sets your character on the left side of the screen with enemies and things to smash coming at you from the right side. This game only has two lanes in which the notes that are supposed to be hit (the enemies you smash). All enemies, bullets or monsters will be identified as blue or pink and be in the respective blue or pink lane to help the player know what to press for the next beat. The blue is the top lane which you hit with the left input, the pink is the bottom lane which you hit with the right input. It is had to describe, but as soon as a player picks up the game, it makes perfect sense.

Some enemies will swing from the bottom or top and fly into a lane, but they will be properly colored to help the player. You can also hit both notes at once to hit bosses, “chord” bad guys and mini boss like enemies. It takes about one round to fully understand everything, even then, the tutorial does a great job instructing the player with everything they would need to know.

There are a few songs originally unlocked, and on the Nintendo Switch version, all the added DLC songs are ready to play. As you play songs and earn achievements in game or beat certinha challenges, your profile will increase in level. Increasing levels will unlock songs, characters, little buddies to help and art work. The levels steadily get lengthier to achieve, but nothing too terrible. The game is fun enough to just play for entertainment and a person would normally unlock all songs and a number of extra costumes and things probably in the first week of moderate playing.

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The unlockable costumes and little helpers called Elfin can do a lot more than just look nice. Each character/costume and Elfin has a special ability like extra health, longer bonus time, reduced damage and many other things. This makes for fun combinations and choosing extra specific help when a player needs it. However, I was a little surprised at how many levels I’ve gotten to and only unlocked roughly one fifth of the unlockables. When the next level is reached, the player receives two random pieces, these pieces make up a costume, character, Elfin or work of art. Each artwork has five pieces and everything else has eight pieces. The art being an unlockable with leveling up is okay, but to unlock five pieces of an artwork in order to see it just adds a lot to the pool of possible things to get from leveling up when I’d much rather have costumes and Elfin pieces.

Almost all songs have three choices of difficulty: easy, medium, and hard. These difficulty ratings also have a number of stars next to them which indicates the overall difficulty of the stage compared to others. So some songs’ hard modes may only be a seven while others’ easy mode is a six. This really helps a player know what songs they can play at which difficulties, very practical and very useful. The game as a whole works very well together. It knows what it is, an over-the-top rhythm game meant to be fun, cute and be for all levels of players.

Visuals

Muse Dash looks incredible. It is so vibrant and colorful. The stages range from pastel pink forests to spooky castles. Each stage (depending on the song) has its own personality, enemies and flairs. The stages are always wonderful to look at while not being distracting from the game itself. The characters are always wonderfully outfitted and boast a load of energy no matter the costume. Some of the costumes are fairly suggestive, and it can be a little odd because it is very difficult to tell the age of these characters in certain costumes. But overall, the visuals are top notch, they are beautiful, dazzling and consistently entertaining.

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Audio

Another vital piece to rhythm games is the music itself. I feel like that is self explanatory, but it is surprising when certain games are a lot of fun to play but only have twenty songs and only half of them are any good. Muse Dash has 97 songs altogether, that is all DLC and default music combined. I would say there are a handful of songs that aren’t good, a bunch of really awesome songs and the rest are good to great. So overall, a great selection, wide variety and good quality. The songs are all very Japanese popish and things you would hear from animes with a couple of pure electronic and jazz songs, so if you can’t enjoy that music in the slightest, then there is very little for you here.

Replayability

This game will basically retain those who like rhythm games in general. It is a fun arcade type game and really good on the go. The songs are mostly short and the achievements you can try for each song on the different difficulties and general challenges can give those who are perfectionists a lot of hours of play. Just playing enough to unlock all the costumes and Elfin will take a long time, but picking it up or making progress when a player has a few minutes to kill here and there will take a long time to finish while being very fun the whole time.

What Could Have Been Better

The few complaints I have about this game are minor, but they are there. Sometimes the screen will get a little cluttered with enemies, but that comes from high difficulty and me not being super amazing at the game yet. Another minor criticism is the weirdly revealing costumes, there is a lot of them and the games overall styles and personality is very cute and kid friendly, whereas those outfits are not, so just be aware of the audience. The last small critique is the noise that is made when a character hits an enemy/note is very bland, I would love to see missing notes or hitting notes fit in better with the song and the characters/costumes.

Verdict

I can go on and on about this and that about Muse Dash, but all I really need to say is that it is worth the money and time. If you like arcade style games, play it. If you like rhythm games, play it. If you like Japanese’s pop and cute little anime characters, play this game. The price on Switch is a little high, but it comes with all the DLC and you’d be saving a good amount compared to buying it on mobile and paying for all the extra songs. This is a great game to pick up and play and makes a great addition to a gamer’s library.

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