Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, Nippon Ichi’s first North American release gets a facelift on the Nintendo DS. Along side NIS America’s porting of Disgaea DS we have another Fall RPG to add to our collection. Rhapsody showcases female sensitivities along with an infancy of gaming ideas that transcended through their games over the years.
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (translated into The Puppet Princess of Marl Kingdom in Japan) is a female driven narrative role-playing game. Having a female lead character is change from what we used to seeing with all the spiky haired male warriors that star in 99% of most role-playing games on the market. When Rhapsody was originally released in 2000 on the original Playstation it was a little fresher than eight years later in 2008. However, still to this day we don’t have too many role-playing games developed with young girls in mind making Rhapsody an unique find. Besides the heavy text in Rhapsody this is a great adventure game to purchase for a young female gamer you might know. After all girl gamers can’t all be animal crossing lovers.
I'm Just a girl in the World
Rhapsody heroine a trumpet playing girl named Cornet. What’s special about Cornet is that she can play her trumpet and make puppets come to life. Only a handful of people in Rhapsody’s world can talk to puppets and Cornet happens to be one of them. Accompanied by her puppet friend Kururu, Cornet ends up on a journey to find tell true love, Prince Ferdinand as she deals with a lot of inner feelings. After being rescued by the prince, Cornet obsessively stalks him which leads to a rescue against the evil witch Marjoly. Rhapsody story is light hearted and easy to get into, however compared to the amount of role-playing games that have been released over the years, Rhapsody is instantly forgettable. This has be put in perspective because a younger gamer might find more to enjoy out of this foolish love story then an adult.
Rhapsody surprisingly calls out some issues that young girls deal with like not being the prettiest girl, overweight issues and social status. I could believe it, but they actually call Cornet "Chubby" in the game. Cornet being weighted in at a 100lbs is the poor girl who wants to be with the prince, who is obviously of royalty stature. This is your typical Cinderella story wrapped around magical creatures, talking puppets and mystical locations. When you get down to the basics, Rhapsody is just another role-playing game that you can play blind-folded, but like a lot of Nippon Ichi titles they seem have some mysterious charm to them. Rhapsody isn’t the best game in the company’s roster when you have other hits like Disgaea, Makai Kingdom, Ar Tonelico and Atelier Iris. If you are a Nippon die-hard and you want to see where it all started for Nippon in North America. Keep in mind that the localization of Rhapsody came two years after the game was released in Japan, making Rhapsody ten years in two months.
The gameplay is standard and Rhapsody will basically walk you through the story. If you get lost you can choose talk from the main menu and Cornet will give you a hit for your next step. The combat is easy to overcome the odds and the characters seem to level up on a regular basis. There are no special attributes to the combat which can cause you to loose interest quickly in the battles. After a while Rhapsody turns into a blind button mashing affair which can get boring. The dungeons in the game are set up in boxes like patterns which are shown in on the DS screen in the top menu. This makes navigation a lot easier than it would be on the original PS1. Random battles pop up fairly regularly so besides some petty loot, dungeons will take up some extra time if you want to go room to room. Besides the main quest, Rhapsody doesn’t give you much reason to overachieve like all of Nippon’s later efforts.
Cha.. Cha.. Cha.. Changes
For changes the DS has changed the strategy grid based combat element out of the game in place for a simpler Final Fantasy styled battle system. This is odd change to make since the original game has a mild cult following. This change drastically changes the combat and will alienate some its original fans or hard-core Nippon fans, however on the other side of the coin Rhapsody is instantly more accessible. Besides the combat switch out, Nis America had planned on adding more content, but had problems translating it over to the DS platform.
Technically Rhapsody runs a little better on the DS platform. A lot of the loading has been trimmed considerably down. Rhapsody feels pretty fluid when you’re jumping world to world in game. The graphics aren't anything special to look at, but this is just standard policy in Japanese styled role-playing games. The magic attacks really lack flair and the combat is under whelming. A few of characters are interesting like all the killer felines you encounter in your journey, but as a whole it’s a little weak. You have to keep in mind that Rhapsody is ten years old and compared to other games released in this year like Dragon Force, Final Fantasy III, Grandia and Lunar, Rhapsody is comparable.
The translation from Japanese has also been cleaned up a fair amount with some new little added selections that make the experience a little more rich and up-to-date with 2008, ya’ll. Lastly, Nippon has added a mini-game where you can blow Cornet’s horn using the microphone on the DS. This gives you bonus money in towns, but that’s about it. Realistically this could have been removed since it doesn’t impact the game in any survey way.
Original copies of Rhapsody are a little hard to come by now a days, so this revitalized DS version is a great option for anyone who wanted to experience Nippon Ichi’s first North American release. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is a female driven story that with traditional Japanese RPG elements tossed into the mix. The addition of the new combat engine and already light difficulty makes Rhapsody a great purchase for any girl gamer who owns a Nintendo DS. Rhapsody DS won’t replace your classic Playstation game disc, but it offers an updated touch to this original game in a portable package.
Gameplay: 6, Graphics: 6, Sound: 6.5, Innovation: 5.5, Mojo: 6. Final: 6.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 10.23.08