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Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure - Review

A Musical Disapointment

By: Vic


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 3
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 2
   Originality 8
   Plot 8
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 1
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

about 15 hours

 
Overall
4
Criteria

Title Screen

   One can't help to wonder why Atlus decided to localize Rhapsody for an American audience. Sure it's a fairly unique game, but its originality is probably why it suffered from poor sales. It's hard to figure out exactly who their target audience was. While its style would appeal too young girls, chances are they aren't to interested in playing RPGs. Although its not necessarily a bad game, it's quite disappointing in several aspects, especially where you would assume that the developers would spend most of their time.

   Yes, I'm talking about the music. Being a musical adventure, songs are sung throughout the game. You can choose if you want to play with the original Japanese lyrics or the translated english ones. I warn you, your better off with the Japanese, because the english ones are just plain annoying. In one song, it sounds more like whining than singing. It's as if they came out of a strait to video animated disney movie. Although the actual lyrics aren't as bad in japanese, the accompanying music in general is still nothing special. I was hoping for the songs to be of the same quality as those found in the Lunar games. Outside of the vocals, the rest of the music wasn't as bad, but still nothing memorable.

   To go along with the lighthearted theme, many of the backgrounds were brightly colored and beautifully illustrated. They even put a nice piece of artwork as the background for the menu screen. Unfortunately, the graphics don't stay as beautiful as they are in the beginning. They become disappointing when you first encounter a dungeon. The dungeons are void of any interest and are extremely repetitive. You progress through nearly identical rooms screen by screen. Games with randomly generated dungeons have more visual interest than these. The world map is rather boring as well. There's no traveling from location to location, you just select your destination and are automatically brought there. The character sprites and battle graphics are quite nice, although the animation could be a bit smoother. The character portraits in the dialogue boxes are incredibly well done. They portray a variety of emotions and are the most detailed I have ever seen.


Please make her stop!
Please make her stop!  

   The emotions are especially nice to have as the amusing, but simple, story progresses. Some might be turned off by the plot, for it resembles a childs fairy tale. The characters are well developed and, as long as their not singing, very likable. Rhapsody underwent an excellent translation, containing both charm and humor, much like a Working Designs game would have.

    The presentation and packaging is very nicely done. The game comes with a color manual that's filled with artwork and contains the english song lyrics. A soundtrack CD is also included, although it's rather useless, unless of course you actually like the music, which you probably won't. If you liked only the Japanese songs, your out of luck, the CD contains the English ones, as well as some background music.

   There are a couple of in game extras included as well. First off, it has an art gallery. It contains a few pieces of art at the beginning, but more becomes available as you advance in the game. Additional pieces are found throughout the kingdom, much like the bromides of the Lunar games. A sound test is also included. Just like the art gallery, more songs are available as you progress through the game.

   While Rhapsody's musical aspects were heavily advertised, battle doesn't involve timed button pressing like most music titles. It is still an RPG, and like most RPGs, Rhapsody contains menu based random battles. The battle system is fairly original, as well as fairly simple. Battle occurs on a small grid similar to a strategy RPG. In that respect, it actually can be best compared to Koudelka's battle system, except the battles don't last quite as long. The battle grid is actually so small, it seems almost unnecessary. It could have easily been replaced by a standard turned based battle system. You don't fight alone in battle, you're in control of various puppets and monsters. They use standard attacks and magic abilities, nothing out of the ordinary.

The only skill available outside of basic magic and physical attacks is the ability to play the horn. When played, the power of all puppets in range is increased. At the same time, the appreciation gauge increases. When it gets high enough, you can use powerful attacks called rewards. Although powerful, this system seems entirely unnecessary, since the battles are too easy to begin with. Enemy attacks miss way too often, and even if they manage to do damage, hit points are recovered when you level up anyway. Although the difficulty level is adjustable, it does little to make the game any harder.


Nice (and silent) graphics
Nice (and silent) graphics  

Not only easy to learn and play, Rhapsody is easy to finish. It shouldn't take you more than 15 hours to complete. There's little motivation to replay this game, unless you happen to make the mistake of playing through the first time with the english voices and on the 'normal' difficulty level (which I did). Rhapsody turned out to be incredibly disappointing. Since you'll probably want to hit the mute button while playing, Rhapsody's charming story combined with it's easy game play makes it more of an interactive storybook than an actual game.





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