Attaining the equivalent of rhythmic Nirvana

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By Anthony L. Cuaycong

SINCE ITS DEBUT early last year, the Nintendo Switch has been a haven for makers of rhythm games. It’s certainly with reason; the hardware boasts of touchscreen and multiple-controller configurations, backstopped by portability and ease of use. It’s why such notables as Deemo, Superbeat: Xonic, and VOEZ have been ported over, and why even offbeat — pun wholly intended — titles like Frederic: Resurrection of Music, Crypt of the NecroDancer, and Hiragana Pixel Party have thrived on the hybrid console.

In this regard, it’s no wonder that MUSYNX has been tagged as a worthy addition to the distinguished list of rhythm games on the Switch. Originally released on the iOS and Android platforms, its strengths are accentuated in its latest iteration. The setup is easy to navigate, complementing the two-level difficulty, four-note or six-note options on tap. In fact, there is no learning curve to speak of; even newcomers to the genre won’t encounter any problems starting a game, grasping the interface, and thereafter having a rollicking good time posting high score after high score.

For the most part, the relative effortlessness with which gamers can settle into MUSYNX stems from its simple, if effective, presentation. It has notes coming from out back to the fore — from the top to the bottom of the screen by actual orientation — in succession, with the sole focus on clearing each by hitting the button that corresponds to it (or, in the case of the touchscreen option, pressing it) at the right moment. Combos are done by stringing together correctly judged presses, individually or in tandem; needless to say, the longer they are, the more desirable the outcome.

Parenthetically, it helps that MUSYNX makes available every single one of its songs off the bat. Given that the number is close to the century mark, it’s no mean feat. Nothing is hidden behind a paywall. Nothing requires grinding to unlock. And for those who’d like nothing better and nothing more than to experience the gameplay when and where they want, the marriage of convenience is much appreciated. In this light, the so-called “Nintendo Tax” becomes a boon to loyal users of the console. Because there is already a premium price tacked on compared to mobile counterparts, the Switch version is presented with unparalleled completeness. And as a happy aside, there are plans to release more songs as downloadable content — free of charge.

Certainly, the appeal of rhythm games is directly correlated to the quality of the music tracks carried by specific titles. In the case of MUSYNX, the sheer variety is matched by the attractiveness of the beats of each item on the list; from English-lyric to Japanese-lyric to Chinese-lyric tunes to Vocaloid mixes to instrumental compositions over distinct categories, the charts are catchy and inviting. It goes without saying that favorites will surface soon enough depending on taste and preference. That said, all are engaging challenges, a tribute to the caliber of PM Studios’ eclectic selection.

When it comes to rhythm games, the visuals can, on occasion, get overlooked. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with MUSYNX. Considering the way the graphical presentations accentuate the mood of specific songs and categories, it winds up as a welcome plus and not an afterthought. The kinetic vibrancy of the images helps build tension and, at the same time, loads up on the adrenaline, serving as motivator to gamers keen on doing well.

If there’s anything MUSYNX falters in, it’s in the title’s pronounced tilt towards casual gamers. Veterans of the genre will find its rhythmic hurdles to be on the relaxed side, even in 6k mode at the highest-difficulty setting — and especially when touchscreen controls are used. Manual adjustments can even be made to delay the progression of notes, as well as to make seemingly ill-timed taps mercifully counted. Nonetheless, there can be no discounting the attainment of the equivalent of rhythmic Nirvana, when all senses are so attuned to the game that near-infinite combos are expected and achieved. And when the EX rating is reached, it isn’t satisfaction that’s guaranteed. It’s delight.