Muse Dash Review — It’s A Dance Dance Monster Mash
Smash enemies and groove to some tunes all while playing as some hip waifus in Muse Dash.
Throughout my life, I have likely put a majority of my time into Music-Rhythm based games. With titles like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, I would play songs over and over again never getting tired of the while at the same time exposing me to music that I have never heard before. Muse Dash is somewhat similar to this.
Instead of playing guitar or a drumkit for a large audience, in Muse Dash, you’re running. While you’re dashing you then must hit enemies to the beat of the music. At the same time, you might also be dodging obstacles. All of this happening while Japanese music is playing. Naturally, not being from Japan or largely invested in the country’s music scene, this was a relatively new experience for me. With that in mind, I had a fun time playing Muse Dash even with the number of simplicities that I encountered.
Exploring the menus of Muse Dash, it has a reminiscent vibe to Dance Dance Revolution — bright, colorful and circular. Whatever song you hover over will give you a small preview of the track. Depending on the song you choose there will be two to three difficulties to choose from; Easy, Hard, and Master. If a song has a Master difficulty, you must beat the song on Hard first to then unlock Master.
Each difficulty also has a number to coincide with it. This acts kind of like a sub-difficulty for each mode meaning that the easy mode for one song could compare to the Hard or Master difficulty for another. When I first began playing, the only difficulty that posed any challenge to me was the Master difficulty but as I progressed playing newer songs, the Easy mode for some became troubling to get through. It was refreshing and reminded me of the times I would practice songs in other rhythm-based games.
Songs in Muse Dash are sorted into a specific playlist. The main playlist, known as Default Music, has all the songs that you have to unlock to play leading up to level 55. It’s weird because there are numerous other playlists with way more difficult songs that you don’t have to level up to unlock. So unlike aforementioned games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you don’t have to go through all the easier songs to get to the more challenging songs that some players are looking the most forward to. If I were to play this game just for fun and not for review, I likely would have just jumped to the more difficult songs right away because I prefer the challenge. Later on, then I’d go to the easier songs later just to be able to say I beat them. Maybe PeroPeroGames did this for that reason, but it seems a bit counterproductive.
There are technically 14 different characters in Muse Dash you can choose from. Each character has a different ability to help you as you progress through a song as well as a specific amount of HP. When going through a song, if you happen to miss an enemy, they will attack you and you will lose HP. Once your HP hits 0 you fail the song. Each character, in reality, is one of three girls–Rin, Buro, and Marija–dressed as something different. The main character I used was Buro in her “Schoolgirl” outfit. Her ability would make me invincible while in Fever Mode. As you defeat enemies, a blue bar on your screen will build and once full will put you into “Fever Mode.” While in Fever Mode, you will earn more points than normal.
Outside of normal enemies, you’ll run into ghost enemies that are optional for you to attack. There are also music notes that seem to be no different than enemies giving you the same score value than them. Some enemies will also have a heart on top of them that will have you regain health as long as you hit them. There are also “bosses” that attack you by shooting enemies and objects at you on par with the music. Sometimes these bosses will also charge at you which is notified by a big exclamation point on top of them. If you retaliate in time, you mash all the buttons at once to get as many hits in as you can.
As you level up, on top of unlocking new songs, you will also get collectibles of sorts which, upon gaining enough of them, allows you to unlock a new character. Additionally, there are these little minions that you can choose from called Elfins that give you some sort of perk on top of your character ability. You unlock these the same way as you unlock new characters.
For each song, there are challenges to beat for each difficulty as well as challenges for the game overall. There is also an online scoreboard so if you are really good at Muse Dash, you can try and climb your way to the top.
All of these features and mechanics are fine. The thing that disappointed me in Muse Dash was the lack of punishment that it gives players for missing enemies. Like any music-rhythm game, if you hit your notes (or enemies in this case) consistently, you will begin a combo. If you miss, then you break your combo and have to restart. This is still the case in Muse Dash, but if you were to hit the enemy too early with enough time to hit them properly, you don’t lose your combo.
So if I were to mash, as long as I wound up hitting the enemies when the time is right my combo would stay. This led me to see if I could pass a song without hitting any enemies throughout its entirety. Surprisingly, I could. With my health being the key to whether or not I passed a son,g I was able to go through it while just dodging everything.
Muse Dash is a fun game that is very simplistic in design. For having not listened to really any Japanese music outside of anime, I ran into a fair amount of tracks that I really enjoyed that I could see myself going back to playing just to give it another listen. At $29.99, I personally think that Muse Dash is a bit steep in price but there is a decent sized catalog of songs to keep you preoccupied and master. Muse Dash has a nice art style with great colors but it also likely isn’t a game for everyone. For those that are into this genre of gaming and music, Muse Dash might be one to look into.