Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure DS
Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Nippon Ichi
Thanks to Disgaea: Hour of Darkness and every Nippon Ichi game that followed it on the PlayStation 2, I've had a keen interest in the games this rather unusual Japanese developer has been responsible for. Some of the earlier Nippon Ichi titles never made it to Europe however. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, which had a US release in 2000 on the original PlayStation and a few years earlier in Japan, is one such game. Thankfully though, the game has been redone for the DS and at long last has been given a European release.
In some ways Rhapsody is a very unusual RPG and in others it's a typically humorous Nippon Ichi RPG experience. With this being 'A Musical Adventure' it's not surprising to find that throughout the course of the game there are moments when characters will break out into song. It's actually quite a nice touch and definitely adds a fair amount of charm to the game. There's a good dose of humour here too, including comments about how you won't want to lose a battle otherwise you'll have to view the cutscenes all over again. Some of the songs in the game are rather humorous too. Even the storyline is both unusual and charming. The central character in the game is a young girl named Cornet who lives with her grandfather in a small village called Orange. Comet has the special ability to communicate with puppets and enlist them as allies. She'll definitely needs this ability as she attempts to rescue the man of her dreams, Prince Ferdinand.
The battles in Rhapsody feel a little simple by modern RPG standards. You'll have to endure random battles in Rhapsody although it's fair to say the encounter rate isn't too high, so it never becomes frustrating in that respect. This isn't a strategy RPG, like so many of Nippon Ichi's titles, and the battles are very straightforward affairs that play out rather quickly. You select the actions for your party and then the turn plays out in a no fuss fashion. In a battle you have a choice whether to fight, escape or you can simply select auto to have the battle play out for you (you can interrupt this auto-battle sequence at any time).
It could be argued that Rhapsody is rather on the easy side. In fact in the early part of the game it's quite possible to select the auto option and sit back and watch your party win with ease. This is something you wouldn't want to do later in the game however as your enemies are decidedly more challenging. On levelling up your party will have their health and SP replenished, which also serves to make the game more forgiving. On the whole it has to be said that Rhapsody is one of the easier RPG's to play through on the DS. Those who are new to the genre will definitely appreciate the rather forgiving nature of the game but those who like to spend hours levelling up their characters may be disappointed.
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure certainly is a fine looking game. The game features some delightful hand drawn backgrounds and 2D sprites which retain the classic Nippon Ichi look. The character portraits look great and there some really expressive ones here that help to add to the characters personality during the game's dialogue. The game allows you to play using either the stylus or by using the directional pad and buttons. Both control schemes work well. The game features three save slots and you can save the game anywhere you want which is certainly welcome.
Deaf gamers won't have any problems with Rhapsody. All of the dialogue is delivered in text. In fact only the songs contain speech. The lyrics to these songs are shown in text (the songs incidentally are in Japanese) so at least you'll be able to understand what the characters are singing about rather than simply having to stare at the screen for a few minutes. When the characters play a musical instrument you'll see a musical note icon to indicate this. Character portraits accompany the dialogue for all of the main characters so you're fully aware of who is saying what. You'll get to read this dialogue in your own time as you'll need to press a button to move the dialogue forward. The dialogue is placed in a tinted dialogue box so the text is always easy to read and never lost against the background. If for any reason you've forgotten what you need to do in the game, you can select 'Talk' from the main menu and you'll be reminded what your next objective is.
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is quite unlike any other RPG you may have played on the Nintendo DS. In some ways it could be argued that it's a simplistic RPG with some concepts that are now viewed as dated. This is to be expected with any remake however and despite its twentieth century feel in places, it's an enjoyable RPG. Some will be disappointed the game is a fairly easy RPG but, on the other hand, there will be those who will appreciate this. Flaws aside, Rhapsody has its moments and Nippon Ichi fans who didn't play the original release of the game will definitely find it a worthwhile RPG even if it's not of the calibre of the developer's later titles.