Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is an example the rest of the industry should follow
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; this industry has a real problem with preserving its legacy. If any company has been doing a commendable job of preserving their history, however, that just might be Nippon-Ichi Software, and their western branch NIS America. During our recent visit to the company's office, we had the chance to play some of the upcoming ports and localizations for the Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles collection and it's the latest in a now long line of ports wherein the company has managed to bring some of their classic titles back for modern platforms - an initiative that the rest of the industry should be paying attention to.
First and foremost, it goes without saying that these ports are still a work in progress - though we didn't run across any immediate issues in the sections of both Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess or Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom that we played. What we did see, however, was essentially all players might have wanted for localizations of these two classics, over 2 decades past their original Japanese releases.
First and foremost; both games have received dubs. While the musical numbers stay in their original Japanese, players can hear English voice tracks for the main characters outside of these sections; and it's a very charming dub from what we managed to hear, too. Gameplay has been preserved for both ports, and the visuals are free of any nast filtering on the sprites - though the 3D elements of Rhapsody III have had its resolution boosted, of course.
Seeing as we only had some brief moments to acquaint ourselves with either title's gameplay, I'll refrain from making judgments there - but for a release like this, it feels like it doesn't really matter anyway. Fans of the original or its DS re-release have had to wait decades for a chance to play any more of the series, and now in a few short months, they'll be free to experience it for themselves.
It's only recently that Atlus has begun to re-release their own back catalog, but so far that's been limited to ports of Persona titles and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. While Gust under Koei Tecmo has been good about releasing ports of the modern Atelier games, it's only been with the upcoming release of Atelier Marie Remake that we've begun to see them dip into their back catalog - meanwhile, titles like Ciel noSurge Offline and Ar noSurge Plus, despite having modern ports, still remain in Japan.
What NIS America and their parent company have achieved with regularly bringing their back catalog to modern platforms can and should be commended; doubly so when they make the effort to localize decades-old RPGs, dubs included, while the company continues to localize its own modern titles. It's been great to see, and with Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles it feels like the logical conclusion for a company that has made it part of its mission statement to preserve its own legacy. I can't wait to check it out when it releases later this year.