Name: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (65.00% in 6 votes)
Release date: 2000
Reviewed by: Mike
Hello all. Mike here again, this time with a review of Atlus's latest import into the States, Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. This review is kinda long, because the game is just that good to warrent a long review.
Quick Summary: Rhapsody is the first of it's kind in the States, a coming-of-age adventure game targeted specifically for girls. Will it work? This reviewer emphatically thinks so. Rhapsody is a fun, enjoyable game with a very romantic, detailed, and "once upon a time" story-like feel to it. In short, it is a very well done coming-of-age story.
Storyline: Rhapsody is about Cornet, a girl with the special ability to talk to puppets. She can play her horn, and the puppets will join her on her quest. Anyway, as with any good fairy tale, she falls in love with Prince Ferdinand (the only male lead in this adventure other than your grandfather). However, the local self-proclaimed best witch in the land (Marjoly) also has the hots for the Prince, and so turns him into stone, and kidnaps him.
So begins the adventure of Cornet and her puppet friends to resuce the Prince from Marjoly, and to live happily ever after.
Thoughts: This game is a lot of fun. It has a good blend of romance, humor, adventure, and seriousness that makes for a throughly good time. Sure the story is very much a fairy-tale, but the games strength lies in the fact that it isn't for guys. This is a game designed for girls. That's not to say guys won't enjoy it (because I sure have), but Atlus is taking a big step in bringing over other girl targeted games by releasing this one here in the States.
Anyway, the romantic drama, and fairy-tale-like nature of this game pulled me in for a good time. No super-evil villian to thwart, no zombies to shoot. Just a good story about a young woman growing up, who simply wants to rescue the man of her dreams.
However, even though this is very much a fairy tale, it also is very serious and emotionally moving at parts as it deals with growing up. Rhapsody brings up such issues as true friendship, loss of innocence, dealing with death, lonlieness, justice and the law, and conflicting interestes. What I mean is, underneath this romantic story is a very detailed look at what happens to people when they grow up. As a persons decisions in life affect their future, your decisions in Rhapsody affect your future as well... and some of them are not easy to make.
For example, at one point you have to decide as Cornet to either save a boys mother and, in doing so, kill off the Ninetail God (a god of Ninetails, and the gardian of one of the sacred stones you need to free Prince Ferdinand; and the stone is also the only known cure for a disease that the mother has contracted). Or do you not fight the guardian thereby letting the boy's mother die. Basically... do you save a boy's sick mother, or do you save a sacred pack of animal-spirits. And decisions such as this have consequenses in the game.
Graphic-wise this game is top notch. It uses 2D sprites on hand-drawn, watercolor backgrounds, making for a very pleasing game to play visually. And talk about detail! The characters, events, and creatures are all well rendered, both in costumes, colors, and lines. Top marks for graphics in this game.
As far as I can tell, Rhapsody has only 1 ending, which limits replayability. You can replay it to see what other puppets you can find, or monsters you can befriend. And to see what other powerups these puppets and monsters can get. Or you can replay it to watch the musical events over again (they are very enjoyable to watch). However, I say this with the caveat that, depending on how you obtain the needed stones, the endings may change.
Music and sound another very strong point to this game... what else would you expect from something titled "A Musical Adventure"? Both the Japanese and English songs are very good, and fit well with the theme and feel of the game. If you like how Disney blends their songs into many of their stories like "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Alladin", then you'll enjoy the songs and music of Rhapsody.
The music for exploring and adventuring are also very well done. Dungeon music sounds dangerous, but still not evil. Town music has a lighter touch to it. And music for you and your Prince is downright romantic. All-in-all, the music and sounds in this game were A+
The translation was pretty good too. Though there were a couple obvious references to jpop (Japanese) culture, and to WWF superstars, the translation was still very good. There are even a couple of in-game jokes dealing with literal translations. You got a feel for the characters as you could "hear" each of them through how they talked (the same way you "hear" a character in a well written book). It helped to emphasize the story when it was a serious time, and made for some amuzing smirks when needed too. A very well done translation. Also, good use of facial expressions to add to how the characters "talk".
Gameplay was good as well. Insted of having to waste hour after hour fighting random encounters (something that I personally don't enjoy; and something that artifically increases game time), the random encounters are minimal. Leaving you more time to watch as the story and love unfold; i.e., more time to play the adventure. Most adventuring is acomplished by selecting a place you want to go to on the overhead map, and then exploring the location. For example, it took me about 8 days (16 hours) to complete; however, about 14 of those 16 hours were plot and story driven. Also, this game isn't very linear. After the initial set-up of characters and plot, you determine how the story unfolds by what stone you want to look for and where you want to go next. This gives you full control to explore and experience the story.
The combat system is very similar to FF Tactics in that you can move around like you're on a chess board. And, though Cornet can fight, she's much better at cheering her puppets on (i.e., playing her horn) so they can fight better.
Overall gameplay is easy to pick up with straightforward maps and menu options.
Onto the Extras. Atlus did a good job here as well. They included some hidden illustrations in the game that you can find adventuring. You access these through your inventory list giving you a HUGE and highly detailed pic. You also have an extra section that contains a ton of pics (you unlock the picks depending on where you are in the story), and the music tracks in the game. Lastly, Atlus includes the music CD with the game; a CD that has some 72 minutes worth of music on it. It only has the english songs, but the english songs are well done. Kudos to Atlus for including a good amount of extras.
Now, there are some slight downers to the game. Mainly, this game isn't designed for the guys. If you like a good romance and coming-of-age story that has a good blend of seriousness, fairy-taleness, adventure, and humor you'll enjoy it. (Remember, Rhapsody is an Adventure game that uses some RPG elements. But it is not an RPG.) If you're looking for the usuall RPG (where you'll spend 70+ hours playing it because you have 60+ hours worth of random encounters) this game isn't for you. Because the action and fighting isn't emphasized, nor very difficult, you can spend more time with the adventure. I actually liked this because I hate random encounters when you're just trying to drop something off or when you just want to advance the story. However, other players may not like this fact.
Also, I'll say it again, this game is designed for girls. You are saving your true love. You act in an adolescent girlish manner. You are growing up in the world. However, as I stated before, this game also has a very serious base (despite how fairy-tale it may look). Your character has to deal with many coming-of-age aspects like loss, conflicting interests, and goals vs. morals.
Combat does have it's problems. With the maps being as small as they are, there isn't much in the way of tactics involved. You just run up and hit the monsters. And the monsters do the same. Also, since some things are area effect, it would have been better to give you the option of taking back your movement once saw that you were still out of range.
Another minor quibble is that the dungeon's and towers could have used a few more tiles for variety. Both basically had only 6 to choose from. All that Atlus needed would have been to vary up the color or ornamentation in these 6 basic tiles (so, for example, one straight hallway has a painting, and another has a plant). This would have allowed for the dungeons and towers to look less repetitive. Some of the dungeons may get trickey for children because of the reuse of tiles may confuse children.
One last minor quibble, it would have been great if the game had the same-type voice acting that Thousand Arms did. Still, the seiyuu they did get to perform the musical peices were very good. For example, Michie Tomozawa did the songs of Marjoly.
In conclution a wonderful gem of a game. A charming in-depth story, great graphics and music, and overall enjoyable fairy-tale feel make for a sure buy. A game that will definately open the floodgates for more games of this type. So go out there and pick it up, you won't be disappointed.
Aside, Rhapsody ends very openly, leaving itself the option of a sequel.
Sound Music: 10
All in all, a highly recommendably game. If you have any questions, email me.
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