Review by LordShibas
Hung By Strings Like Puppets in a Play
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is one of the lesser known RPGs for the Nintendo DS. Its a remake of the same game that graced our Playstations almost a decade ago. Many people, including myself, seemed to have missed the original release, so I was looking forward to the DS remake.
NIS America was in charge of remaking the game for the DS, and they did far more than simply port the game to the portable system. They threw away the previously utilized, turn-based, strategy battle system and replaced it with a standard turn based battle system. The new battle system is much more simplified and the battles go much faster. There is also a new translation, new characters you can get in your party, some new side quests, and a slight graphical touchup.
Rhapsody follows the adventures of a young girl name Cornet, who lives in Orange Village in the Marl Kingdom. She may seem like a normal girl at first, but Cornet has the rare ability to interact with inanimate puppets, stuffed animals, and toys. She is able to talk to them, have them do her bidding, and she often helps them fulfill their human-like desires. Cornet is able to control these creatures with her horn, which she has had with her since she was a child, so she has never been alone, and has always had the company of puppets alongside her.
One puppet in particular is her best friend, her name is Kururu. Kururu will basically be your guide during Rhapsody, and she will be one of the most prominent members of your party for most of the game.
Cornets main goal during the game may not be quite as lofty as other RPG protagonists. She is out to find the man of her dreams, who just happens to be the prince of Marl Kingdom, Prince Ferdinand. After some events take place in the game, it will be Cornets job to come to Prince Ferdinands rescue and save him from an evil band of thieves.
Its a pretty simple game, and its more an RPG for beginners than anything else, but that doesnt stop the game from having an immense amount of charm and an interesting story to keep you moving forward.
Rhapsody has received a graphical touchup and the game is a bit more artsy than its previous iteration. Think something along the lines of Legend of Mana and you will understand how the game looks. The game has some nice looking characters and areas to explore. Character animations are well done, and some of the spell and skill effects are mildly impressive.
On the down side, enemy models get reused frequently, and the game could have used a bit more variety with the characters in general, since some of your puppets look very similar to one another.
Sounds and Music 8/10
This is without a doubt one of the most endearing aspects of Rhapsody. The soundtrack is incredibly rich for a DS soundtrack and there are a decent amount of tracks.
Since the game is sort of based around music, there are times during the game when characters will sing songs that will have relevance to the story. These are all voiced in Japanese with English subtitles. While I usually dont like musicals in my RPGs, for some reason Rhapsody seems to pull it off very well, and I found myself looking forward to the next musical number so I could sit back and enjoy it. If you do not want to see the musicals, then you can skip them and go on with the game.
The musical numbers not only have relevance to the story, but they are often quite funny, especially when the enemy forces pour their feelings into a song.
On the downside of the sounds, there is a severe lack of sound effects during the battle sequences. Attacks and spells are often represented with nothing more than a minute thud, and almost all of the attacks sound similar in nature. Its almost like they didnt have time to put in all of the sounds effects.
Despite this gripe, this is one of the best sounding DS games around, and the sounds really made me further appreciate the game and the musical numbers.
Rhapsodys story is another strong part of the game. Even though the story is rather formulaic, the characters have quite a bit of personality and convey it in every conversation. Each character has multiple anime character portraits to accompany their moods, and its easy to follow the simple story.
Cornet will mostly be chasing after her enshrined love for the Prince, but she will need to interact with quite a few NPCs and accomplish quests along the way. Regardless of the turmoil that Cornet is facing, you will never lose track of the main goal, and the story remains focused throughout the adventure.
The game also has a nice plot twist near the end of the game that will make you momentarily panic and rethink your battle strategies, which really threw me off guard.
Rhapsody houses a very touching ending as well, and I was pleased with the outcome of the game.
Rhapsodys simple gameplay was a breath of fresh air for me. Im used to playing difficult, grind intensive RPGs, but Rhapsody is an easy game that only gets difficult in the very late stages of the game. There is also very little need for grinding, which is one of the reasons that the game can be completed quickly.
The structure of the game is rather basic. Cornet will travel to a town with her band of puppets, and once she is in the town, she will usually be directed to a dungeon that she needs to obtain something from. Once she is in the dungeon, a map of the dungeon will be displayed on the top screen of the DS, branching paths and all. It might make things a bit easy, but this game isnt about being difficult, its about the fun adventure and interesting characters. You are also given the option to save at anytime, which is a feature that more games should have.
Cornets party members will consist of puppets that she has found during her journey. Each of the puppets acts like a normal party member that can gain levels, use skills, and use magic spells of a certain element. There are lots of possible puppets to obtain. I think there are 16 puppets total. You can only have four characters in your party at once, and this is including Cornet. This really gives you a lot of party options, and you will be able to swap puppets into the active party at anytime outside of battle. Puppets not in the active party will get half of the partys gained exp.
The battles usually dont last too long and are quite easy for the most part. Only a few boss battles will require you to mix up your strategies. The game also has an Auto Battle option that will allow the computer to fight the battles for you. This is usually the best way to go and the quickest way to end confrontations.
Rhapsody does lack some sustenance in the gameplay department, but its good enough to keep you playing and there is a spike in difficulty later on in the game.
Longevity and Re-Playability 8/10
I was able to finish Rhapsody in about 14 hours, so why then am I giving it an 8/10 for Longevity and Re-Playability? A few reasons. First, there are a bunch of side quests that you can go through to get some extra things. Almost all of your puppets have a quest for them that will get you some additional skills for Cornet upon completion. Secondly, the massive amount of puppets that you can obtain during the game means that you can play through the game multiple times with different party members, and it will require slightly different strategies. Lastly, the game is just charming and incredibly fun.
I highly recommend Rhapsody to anyone that is looking to intersperse their hardcore RPG gaming with something simple and light hearted.
I really enjoyed Rhapsody. Was it the deepest game ever? Not really. Was it the most fun Ive ever had with a game? Not in particular, but its a fun journey that you can play through in a few days, and the game will give you much enjoyment if you allow yourself to get wrapped up in the story.
Product Release: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (US, 09/23/08)
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