Sometimes, it might seem like getting into a rhythm game could be daunting. There can be so many inputs to keep track of, people might worry about how often they can make mistakes before getting a dreaded “game over,” and there might be concerns about how appealing the soundtrack could be. Muse Dash, from PeroPeroGames, helps alleviate a few of these kinds of concerns. It is easy to figure out, has a soundtrack made up of tracks in a variety of languages, and always keeps giving you more to do as you succeed.
Muse Dash starts off by trying to ease people in with the illusion of simplicity and the appeal of heroines that can eventually be dressed up. Everyone starts off with Rin in a basic costume and a handful of the 80 tracks available. Instead of having the typical lines and multiple input methods, all you need to know is that pressing one of the right action buttons on the Nintendo Switch will have the selected heroine attack the enemies on the ground or grind the rails and pressing one on the left will cause her to leap in the air and attack enemies or grind rails up there. If a hazard appears below, pressing a key on the left side has her leap over it. If enemies appear in both lanes, you press a button on each side. If an enemy rushes you, you alternate mashing buttons on both sides.
The result is something that might feel a little less intimidating for newcomers, but that can gradually feel more challenging for those who manage to unlock the Master difficulty level for a track. Each heroine has a health bar, and a bar at the top of the screen tracks how much longer the song will run. Even if you are missing enemies like crazy, you don’t fail if you still have help. But, for people who are familiar with Muse Dash, it can eventually start testing you. For example, there will occasionally be disappearing enemies who will appear on screen briefly, requiring you to be observant enough to catch that one is coming down the line and know when the rhythm will dictate their arrival. When this comes up while you are already performing a hold note in another lane can be the start of Muse Dash really checking to see if you are getting involved.
Muse Dash is very good about getting people to keep playing too, something that can benefit newcomers and veterans. Each stage’s difficulty level has different achievements to hit. Completing challenges gets you experience. As you play, You can unlock bits to acquire Elfins. These can provide boosts as you play. Additional characters, like Buro and Marija, can be earned. You can unlock costumes for the heroines, with each one having a different amount of health. Instead of having to buy the additional song packs, which could be around $2.99 for something like Cute is Everything Vol. 1, everything is all here. You just have to earn them. While that might seem frustrating, it seemed like I was earning at least one new song after playing a song for the first time on the Hard difficulty level.
As for those songs, people might find them surprisingly good. Especially if you enjoy the soundtracks from games like IA/VT Colorful or Hatsune Miku: Project Diva. There are a lot of Vocaloid songs here. For example, Vocaloid producers like yk! and Ncha-P. Hatsune Miku is very well represented. But, don’t take that to mean that is all there is here. There are plenty of kpop, electronica, dance, and rock tracks. There are even a few chiptune-like and songs with classical elements to them. If you find one you like, pressing Y immediately adds it to your Favorite Music list, which is a welcome option consider just how much is eventually here.
Muse Dash is one of those games where it might feel easy to opt into it. It plays out in a way that can make it feel like playing an action game with rhythm elements, which could help people who have always been curious, but intimidated, by the genre. It eventually adds trickier elements, like disappearing notes, and has optional unlocks like costumes to encourage people to get better, keep playing, and attempt harder difficulty levels. It also is a game that practically overwhelms with songs, even though parts of the library do need to be unlocked. Especially since it will eventually also get free DLC. It is a welcoming sort of game that fits well on the system.
Muse Dash is now available for the Nintendo Switch and PC. It is also available on Android and Apple iOS devices, but you do need to purchase DLC for all of the tracks.