Arts video game review

Another anime rhythm game

‘Muse Dash’ has simple gameplay and entertaining beats

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'Muse Dash' features simple two-button gameplay.
Courtesy of PeroPeroGames

Muse Dash
Developed by PeroPeroGames
Published by X.D. Network
Available on Nintendo Switch and Windows

Rhythm games are classically a fun way to pass the time, though more recently, they have been swept up into the filter of East Asian cultures. Games such as Cytus, Deemo, and Voez tend to showcase anime soundtracks and similarly designed aesthetics. Muse Dash is no exception to this trend, though it falls on the more cutesy side of the spectrum.

Developed by China-based PeroPeroGames, most of Muse Dash’s musical selection comes from Chinese artists, ranging from energetic themes to love ballads to instrumental soundtracks. After a while, the songs start to blend together, and it feels like you are playing the same song over and over and over again.

It also doesn’t help that the game has a very simple two-button gameplay system. You literally just hit two buttons to play the entire game, controlling the cutesy (though often oversexualized) female characters to attack side scrolling enemies to the beat of the music.

The balancing of the level difficulty also feels, well, unbalanced. Of course, the difficulty will naturally vary from song to song, but the distinction between the easy, hard, or master version of a set level can feel very inconsistent. Most songs on “easy” will feel very trivial to play, while “hard” varies from trivially easy to ridiculously hard.

In terms of character selection, there is a decent amount of variability to who you can play as and what perks each character comes with. There are also Elfin sprites that you can pair up with your character to aid you as you play through level after level. As you’d expect, what character combinations will end up working the best will depend on the player. Do you tend to miss a beat and get overrun by enemies during a harder level? Then pick a character combination that can ensure better HP recovery. Are you a perfectionist who hates losing combo bonuses? Then design a character pairing that forgives the occasional slipup.

One other criticism I have is the game’s fever mode, which can be reached several times over the course of a level if you’re doing well. Fever mode activates automatically once the meter at the bottom of the screen is reached, but this activation will cause an entire scene change, which can be very disorienting. The fever mode scene is also dynamic compared to the near static backgrounds of the normal setting. This can further confuse players and cause them to miss a beat as soon as they enter fever mode. I would have preferred if this mechanic was implemented in a subtler way, either by allowing players to control when to activate fever mode or by changing how fever mode is implemented in-game, such as changing the character’s appearance or bedazzling the combo counter rather than changing the entire background into a shimmering wall of moving streaks.

In small doses, Muse Dash is a fun game, but it’s not something I could really invest myself in. If you like rhythm games, go ahead and give Muse Dash a try. Maybe you’ll even end up on some leaderboards if you really want to go hard.