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Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Muse Dash is mesmerising, tantalising, and hypnotising. It’s almost sickly sweet; high contrast colours and vibrant enemies pulled straight out of some sort of kawaii world mould its fast-paced and addictive gameplay. It’s enough to get any player hooked.
Controls are simple, never going beyond the bashing of buttons or tapping of touch screens. You fight, dodge, and play to the beat. Completing levels earns you points, collecting points lets you level up, and levelling up unlocks new songs and bonus items. There’s also plenty of control configurations and difficulty levels, allowing you to really test your tapping skills and flex your fingers.
However, it’s not just enemies you need to look out for. There’s also environmental hazards, such as spinning saw-blades or hanging hammers, and long notes which you need to press and hold in order to strum out that perfect solo.
Unlike most rhythm games, Muse Dash also has both health and energy mechanics, meaning that you’ll need to be able to balance timing your hits right and keeping yourself in top shape. One wrong move can throw off your entire tempo, leading to an untimely defeat. On the other hand, maxing out your energy bar throws you into the frantic and furious Fever Mode, which allows you to play for double points.
The core cast of Muse Dash who, along with packing a punch, pack a lot of personality – you can play as Rin, Buro, or Marija, all of whom have their special set of skills. Each girl also has her own set of bonus outfits to unlock, with each outfit offering its own in-game incentives.
You can also unlock Elfins, which provide a supporting boost to each character. You can mix and match Elfins and costumes to your liking, allowing you to build the ultimate and almost invincible musical prodigy. Or you can just choose the ones that look nice. It’s all up to you.
You shouldn’t be fooled by all the candy coloured cadence, though. Muse Dash is designed to hook players in from their very first tap. The controls, characters, and cool soundtrack all come together to make a game that’ll have your heart racing and your toes tapping.
One of Muse Dash’s big highlights is the fact that it actually makes use of the touchscreen, unlike so many other Switch ports. While this does call back to Muse Dash’s roots as a mobile game, it’s a great addition and makes sense for a game in its genre. It also means that you don’t have to worry about prematurely wearing out your Joy-Cons while furiously tapping along to the rhythm.
On Switch, Muse Dash boasts an extremely impressive 97 songs at launch, with even more to come in later updates. This is in comparison to the Steam version of the game, which only has 30 at launch. The Switch version also comes with most of its library unlocked so, instead of having to wait around for songs to unlock, you can get right into the swing of things.
The musical quality of Muse Dash’s library is also something to marvel at. It possesses a wide variety of genres, from upbeat and poppy idol-esque tunes to extreme heavy guitar solos to almost vaporwave-ish jams. There’s a song for every kind of player and, as long as you’re playing with wired headphones, the sound quality is crisp.
Each song also comes with its own set of different difficulty levels, meaning you can show off your talents and test your reflexes in a variety of musical challenges. This also means you can replay your favourite songs without being able to predict which enemies will come next, keeping each level fresh.
The in-game leaderboards, which do require an internet connection but not a Nintendo Switch Online account, let you see where you rank overall. The leaderboards are also entirely optional, so if you’re just playing for fun or if you don’t want to see if your talents match up to others, you can just opt out. Muse Dash also never forces you to feel like it’s a competition – the musical trio are almost always proud of you, regardless of how you score.
Of course, no game has a 100% perfect score, and Muse Dash is no exception. There are only really two catches, with the first being some of the game’s mistranslations. Some of the English text translations of inventory items and certain cutscenes in Muse Dash are a bit wonky, either being misspelt or just downright confusing. Thankfully, the game really doesn’t have that much text, and you can easily work out what something is trying to say through context, so this should only really be an issue for anyone who’s a stickler for language.
The other catch actually depends on how much you’re into provocatively dressed and suggestively posing anime girls.
Muse Dash has a disproportionate amount of anime badonkadonks for a game that’s rated 3 in the UK. It’s rated Teen in the US, which gives the waifu bahonkas a bit more leeway but, if you’re not into lashings of fanservice, you’ll probably find yourself turning up your nose at some parts of Muse Dash. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Personally, I found the fanservice acceptable and bearable. Although I was initially taken aback by the fact that the in-game costumes suddenly went from ‘casual wear’ to ‘downright risqué’, you can just choose not to wear a provocative costume. Job solved. If anything, the inaccurate 3D jiggle physics tickled me more than the fanservice did.
Despite the heavy emphasis the game has on the the anime hungolomghnonoloughongous, I still heartily and highly recommend Muse Dash. Once in-game, the more suggestive costumes really don’t distract or detract from the gameplay and hey, if you like anime girl chests, all the fanservice is really just a neat little (read: huge) bonus for you.
Muse Dash is out now on Steam and Nintendo Switch. The price tag for the Switch version is $29.99/£25.99 but, quite frankly, it’s worth it. There’s so much content packed into one little game and it’s an excellent way to keep your mind and thumbs occupied, perhaps in more ways than one.