Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure Nintendo DS Review

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure has been out in the USA for quite a while now, but it’s finally about to hit the game stores of Europe. Originally a PS1 title, Rhapsody is the latest in a very long line of Japanese RPG remakes to hit the Nintendo DS – but is it the greatest?

The original received fairly mixed reviews back in the day, but it’s worth noting for those that didn’t enjoy the original that this version is quite, quite different. The original combined Disgaea-style tactical RPG grids with fast-moving battles that were over quickly. These are gone in this version, replaced with a very traditional turn-based battle system. In Japan the original game got a couple of sequels, and the battle system here mimics the sequels rather than copying the rather distinct style of the original.

Rhapsody is a very standard RPG, then – battles to fight, items to buy, dungeons to explore, and all new battle skills to learn for each of your party members (of whom you can use 4 at a time) to learn, all wrapped up in a fairly solid if standard plot.

Interestingly, Rhapsody seems to have been pitched at the girls, with the premise of the game based around heroine Cornet trying to catch the attention of a prince. It’s a nice touch, as there’s few RPG games aimed directly at the female demographic, even if this game is perhaps aiming at a slightly younger female audience than it should.

The gimmick of the plot is the musical numbers through which it plays out. Sadly, the musical aspects of the game are only in Japanese, with only subtitles to aid the linguistically challenged. The plot and its execution are serviceable, but are very basic and of the kind of thing you’d expect to find in a classic SNES RPG, not a modern day release.

The game’s another great-looking DS title, with beautifully crafted anime-looking sprites, and backgrounds that remind me of higher quality versions of the art from Golden Sun. Despite being the world’s first ‘musical RPG’, the music is little to write home about; hummable tunes, but nothing mindblowing.

A spattering of other changes will make the game new for owners of the original, including a new scenario unlocked after completing the game and an extra character as well as a remastered translation and of course the new turn-based gameplay. It’s arguable that the new gameplay isn’t as interesting and different as the original, especially as this game follows the now-standard Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest setup, but many do prefer that system.

Rhapsody suffers for being such an old-fashioned game, but being old fashioned doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. We have to chop off points because the gameplay is easy and archaic and the plot is cheesy, but overall it’s a solid RPG of around 10 hours or so that will leave fans of old-school RPG gaming very happy. Just remember, it’s as far from modern as you can get.

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