|Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure|
|Platforms||Nintendo DS, PlayStation|
|Genre||Pre-teen's Dream RPG|
|MtAMinutes to Action||13|
|Score||5 Gameplay: 3
Fun Factor: 6
|Buy from Amazon|
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is a role-playing musical for the Nintendo DS. Now, when I say musical, I really mean a musical. The cutscenes feature the characters singing songs, in Japanese. This is not a very common genre combination, there have been plenty of musical games, PaRappa the Rapper comes quickly to mind, but that was the whole premise of the game. Here we have a console RPG wrapping periodic musical numbers. And it is made by the developers of the popular Disgaea series, so it can't be all bad, right?
Rhapsody DS came out in September of 2008, and is a re-release of the 2000 PlayStation game. In North America, it has been pigeon-holed as a "girl-game", essentially the kiss of death for any kind of mainstream attention besides the typical, "hey look, a girl game that's not about dolls or ponies!" Well, I didn't know this going in; I hear about an RPG for the DS and it has my attention. Since females supposedly take up a ton of the market now, I think it's my responsibility to play a wide range of games. Well, I'm joking there, but variety is important, and at least now I can say I've played a musical, even for an hour.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New and the first hour of Rhapsody begins. Prologue, The Sudden Encounter. A girl is running on the bottom screen, she turns her head and trips, but gets up again. Oh crap, some giant monster appears but then out of a nowhere a knight in shining armor leaps and one-shots the baddie to death. "Are you okay?"
01 - "He's the man... the man that I dreamt of..." Holy crap, what am I playing? The girl is star-struck, but then of course, she wakes up from her perfect dream. Some fairy wakes her up and calls her Cornet.
02 - "Don't get your pantyhose all in a bunch." I may just spend the next hour quoting this game. The title screen flies by and I get control. The top screen informs me I'm in Orange Village and my fairy's name is Kururu. I have 100 Inotium.
03 - As with most DS role-playing games, you can move around with either the d-pad or the stylus.
04 - LOL! Some woman in a giant nurse outfit named Sharte appears out of nowhere and says I must be the girl who collects puppets. She's looking for her sister and wonders if I will blow my horn and let her join my party. What the heck is going on? Cornet starts tooting her trumpet. Oh, I guess Sharte is a puppet.
05 - I tell the old guy living in my house that I'll find some red inotium in the forest for our fire.
07 - From talking to the villagers, it is a well known fact that Cornet can talk with puppets.
08 - I play a horn blowing game by blowing into the DS's microphone. Man, my lung capacity seems low. I did get 10 inotium though, the local currency, and source of energy of the people in this game (fellow villagers are very informative you see).
10 - A former soldier talks about the Minstrel Wars my father fought in. Haha, just thinking about a minstrel war is hilarious.
11 - I leave Orange Village and end up on the World Map. You just point to the area you want to go... the only one available is Wonder Woods. There's a helpful map for each area, I like games that do that.
12 - Cornet and Kururu talk about princes and love but then some frogs jump out! "EWWWWWW TOADS!!"
13 - Cornet attacks with her horn and Kururu uses a paper fan. I got hit twice by the frogs for ZERO damage. Even if these guys are the first enemies in the game and small amphibians, can't they do better than that?
15 - They stop for lunch and then Cornet breaks out into song. No real voices though, just some midi voices. Oh wait, there is real singing - in Japanese though. There are some words on the bottom but I'm not sure if they're the lyrics or something else. They just seem to be commenting on the music, well now they seem like more traditional lyrics.
17 - Well, that went on for far too long. On with the game! Ugh, random battles! NOOO! I find a giant rabbit in the woods and touch it, the bunny disappears and Cornet wonders, "what was that?" These really are the Wonder Woods.
20 - I feel kind of bad for using the auto battle feature this early... but I haven't even gotten hurt yet, and I've leveled up twice. Here's the end of the woods, and the red inotium.
21 - Oh snaps! Three cats and a witch appear demanding my inotium! Marjoly the witch, haha, she just made a freakish face. She orders her cats to fight.
22 - They might have done damage if they hadn't missed twice. Ah well. Marjoly ups the odds and summons a dragon. She really wants this inotium, so Kururu the traitor just gives it to her.
23 - "You do know if you die, that's a game over. You'll have to watch this scene all over again. Excellent motivation not to fail. Oh, out of nowhere, the knight in shining armor appears and kills the dragon in one hit. How convenient.
25 - The boy's name is Ferdinand, and he's a member of the royal family, prince to be exact.
26 - Chapter 1 - Much Love! The Great Cooking Plan! Cornet is lovestruck for real this time. "When a puppet is satisfied with life, it goes to heaven."
30 - I wander around town for a bit and everyone talks about the prince. He'll be 18 soon you know. I leave the village and head for a new destination, Mothergreen. It's a real city! The camera pulls back to reveal more real estate, neat.
31 - Just stole 56 inotiums from someone's house. Clever girl... I play my horn so a giant egg will join my party. Like Sharte, he probably won't actually fight, just be like a collectible or something?
33 - Never mind, I can actually have Sharte and Kid (the egg) in my party too. Talk about overkill.
36 - Cornet and Kururu figure out that their mission is to catch the prince's favorite fish, the Bobo. Some girl named Etoile approaches Cornet and mocks her plain looks while extolling her own beauty. She can also see Kururu? Huh? Can everyone? Heh, this girl is pretty funny, quite the wit. Her dress cost her one million inotium, and she points that out a few times.
39 - Crap, I enter Marl's Castle and it has like a thousand rooms to explore... I hate castles in video games. I think I'll just go catch some fish.
40 - The world map says "New!" by Orange Village, but I've been there. Maybe a new cutscene? Well, nothing happens when I immediately enter, so on to the river! Which is through the Wonder Woods.
42 - You can talk with Kururu at any time and she'll remind you on what you need to do. This should be a requirement for all RPGs.
43 - Sharte leveled up! As I approach the river, three monsters appear, lol, Cornet just runs at them and starts the fight. Good girl.
44 - Holy crap these guys are actually doing damage! I heal everyone using my horn. Oh, I guess those were the fish I needed to catch.
45 - Heh, the cats are back again, and this time there are seven of them! Only four in battle though. They still don't do any actual damage though, what a waste of time.
47 - Back to Mothergreen, but I guess I have to explore the castle now.
49 - "Oh please God, let me make out with Francis and I'll never ask for anything again." Well at least he/she is honest.
52 - The castle is pretty easy to explore with the mini-map, and there were a lot of people to talk to. Thankfully this game doesn't dawdle on the text speed. Now if only someone will let me see the prince.
54 - Ah, I head home and we cook the fish at Cornet's house.
55 - After we make the fish, Kururu unveils a secret path under a gravestone, is this supposed to be a shortcut to the castle? It is a ruined waterway.
57 - The enemies here are a tad bit stronger, well, they do like 4 HP damage, and I have over 80. Everyone keeps attacking Kid the Egg though.
59 - After a few farting jokes, we climb out of an unused toilet in the castle. Well, not very tight security here. Heh, turns out it's the men's bathroom.
60 - Minister Golonzo appears! He thinks the fish is for him. Cornet calls him a pervert, then Kururu slaps him with her fan, and finally Cornet throws the fish in his face. This meeting did not go well. Three skeleton pirates fall to his rescue! And that's the end of the first hour of Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure.
Now for some scorse out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 13
I recently played through Mother 3, while it being a traditional RPG like Rhapsody, it featured some nice twists on the genre like rhythm-based battles. Rhapsody, as far as I can tell, introduces nothing new. You can "recruit" dolls by blowing your trumpet for them, and it seems you can collect a ton of them, similar to Pokemon, but in that game there was a real challenge to collecting them. The controls are rock solid though, but it's pretty hard to mess that up in a portable RPG these days. Also, thank you developers for auto-battle. Rhapsody's first hour would have been a huge chore without it.
Fun Factor: 6
While Rhapsody feels like "my first RPG" all over again (think Mystic Quest), I think the game has a certain charm to it that is definitely appealing to a wider audience than I would have originally managed. For one, the dialogue is pretty well written and flows smoothly. There is a lot of humor thrown in, especially the banter between Cornet and Kururu. I found myself chuckling a few times. Secondly, the game moves fast. Battles are over in 15-20 seconds (though they are random...) and the conversations aren't obnoxiously cute. The only time I felt bored was during the musical number, which was just Cornet standing there singing a happy song about life. Throw in some dancing and lighting, and I would be entertained.
Graphics and Sound: 8
Since Rhapsody is a self-proclaimed musical, let us start with the sound. Now, why didn't the game have an opening number? Something upbeat and high tempo to start the game off on the right foot? Who knows, but the only real musical number is some slow Japanese ballad that doesn't necessarily feel out of place, but is just a minute too long in my opinion. The battles have started, I don't want to listen to a song. The sound quality was excellent though, I was utterly surprised when I heard it had real voices, not that it is new, I just expect ports and re-releases to skimp certain places.
Graphically it is quite strong. It has a decent lineage of first being a PSX game and then ported to the DS, so it looks similar to Star Ocean and other Japanese RPGs from the time. The character portraits presented alongside the dialogue are well drawn and convey the character's feeling quite well. I was impressed by the developer's care of how much you could see depending on where you were. In the village and forest, the camera was held pretty tight, but in the city it pulled back to reveal more of the surrounding area. It's a little touch but really helps.
Like I said in the introduction, Rhapsody is considered a girl game at least outside Japan. And the story doesn't help me argue against that either. It's hard to say the translation was just girlish too when the game opens with a teenage girl dreaming about her knight in shining armor saving her from a beast. Not to mention that literally happens twenty minutes later. There's also a dress contest going on... all in all, a girl game. Not that that's the bad part, it's all just so simplistic. Plenty of RPGs start out similar to Rhapsody, but you always get this foreboding feeling that the village may burn down at any minute or your dad will be killed. In Rhapsody, we climbed out of a toilet. Okay, that was pretty funny.
Rhapsody's scores are kind of all over the board, but its first hour is pretty much mediocre, even as far as RPGs go. It doesn't take nearly as long to get to the first battles as some games, but its simplicity promises two things: this game will probably be easy from start to finish, and I could probably breeze through it and actually try to enjoy the story. I may very well give it a shot, as I'm intrigued by its one wildcard: the musical aspect. Like I said, throw in a little more action than just them standing on the screen while singing, and I may really get into it. If you're looking for a semi-offbeat RPG experience for your DS that doesn't require you to think, Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure may be it.