Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure was the second PlayStation game I ever played, and my first strategic RPG, so needless to say I was excited by the prospect of a DS port. And NIS America has done an adequate job of retooling the game to fit the system and make it more accessible for RPG newcomers. However, the choice to exclude Cherie’s Story and the Elly’s Mother side-quests may break some original Rhapsody fans’ hearts.
Rhapsody has a very empowering, and often clever, story. Young Cornet has the ability to speak to puppets and make friends with them, a gift that stems from a magic horn her mother left her. Her whole life has been spent in Orange with her grandfather and Kururu, a living fairy puppet who can talk to people. After Prince Ferdinand, next in line to rule the Marl kingdom, saves Cornet from Myao and her dragon, Cornet falls head over heels for him. She enters a contest to possibly become his bride. However, the evil (and old) witch Marjoly busts in with Myao, Gao and Crowdia, turns Ferdinand to stone and abducts him. It is up to Cornet and her puppets to save her prince.
The Rhapsody remake features a few extra changes, but also takes away some of the more lovable qualities of the original. Kururu is added as a playable character for most of the game, which does make the game substantially easier. She’s one of the strongest puppets you’ll acquire throughout the game. The game is also a turned based RPG, rather than strategic, the top screen constantly displays a map of whatever area you’re in and you can watch the songs or just observe.
The funny thing is, Rhapsody is now more difficult than I remember. Despite having a simpler, standard RPG interface and battles, it seems like the levels of the enemies have been kicked up a notch. In the original game, I had no problem beating the sunken pirate ship’s boss and his minions with my characters around level 25, and in the remake it took me three tries. The remade game actually is more challenging than the original, which is odd because the remake was designed to be more accessible.
It also adds touch screen control, which works very well. In fact, I found myself constantly using the stylus to make my way through the game. I also relied on the “Auto” option in battle. Since most of the random battles are fairly easy, and don’t really require skills to win, a lot of thought isn’t required. You can set it on auto and let the game take care of everything.
The horn playing is turned into a mini-game in the DS version. Sadly, this mini-game isn’t any fun. The goal is to blow into the DS’ microphone and try to keep the marker in a region marked “Good”. After some testing though, I found that it didn’t matter how you did in the mini-game, as long as you hit “Good” once or twice. You’d still get the X amount of Inotium you’d receive for that chapter. In the first chapter, you’d get 10, then it goes up to 70, 152 and so on. You can blow into the microphone all you want to try and make it stay in the green “Good” region, but you’ll just end up out of breath. The small amount of Inotium isn’t worth it.
You also can no longer capture monsters. In the original Rhapsody, you could occasionally recruit monsters if Cornet was the one to defeat them. There was then a chance that the monster would join the party after the battle. You could then keep the monster and have it fight for you, or you sell it at a shop to get extra Inotium for items. That’s gone in this release – a substantial loss. Some of the possible monsters were strong assets, not to mention adorable.
The Japanese songs are cute though, and the voice acting is wonderful. I found it funny though that, despite the improved translation, many of the songs had frequent spelling errors. For example, Marjoly and company’s “Evil Queen” song has quite a few spelling errors, like your becomes you’re and personified becomes personafied. It is a bit odd, because I went back and checked and the “you’re” error wasn’t in the original PS1 version. (The “personafied” error was.)
I also haven’t encountered any of the “new” songs, which were supposedly included in the game. Seeing as how I’m almost finished with the game, I would have expected to hear something new. So I went to check the Encore menu, which lets you view all of the songs you’ve seen. There are only 10 song spaces – “Someday,” “Let’s Go On – Cornet version.” “Let’s Go On – Contest Version,” “Our World,” “Evil Queen,” “Amphibian Paradise,” “True Courage,” “Thank You,” “Mountainmen’s Song” and “Amazing Pirates.” All of these voiced tracks appeared in the original PS1 release of Rhapsody.
When Spencer interviewed Jack Niida from NIS America, Niida claimed that the reason only the Japanese tracks would be included was because they couldn’t get the original voice actors back to do the new songs. And yet, the new songs aren’t included in the North American DS release. So the voice acting has also taken a massive cut. It is disheartening that NIS America couldn’t find a way to include the already recorded English songs as well. After all, if Konami can release a fully voiced Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 2nd Season on the DS, NIS America could have found a way to fit a few extra songs on the cart.
I was incredibly disappointed that the additional Angel’s Story bonus content wasn’t included in the US release of Rhapsody DS. As a fan of the original story, I was extremely excited to hear that the DS release of the game had extra stories that could be unlocked. It was one of the reasons I was even going to play the game. So I was shocked to see that content included in the Japanese release was cut from the US release, even though the NIS Rhapsody website states on Cherie’s character page that there is a bonus scenario, and there is a character page for Elly, whose quest never unlocks.
Since it wasn’t a glitch that prevents the content from unlocking, as revealed by RPGFan, it currently looks like the only way devoted Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure fans will get the extra stories is to invest in an import copy of the game.
So, if you never played the original Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure and you enjoy clever and unique RPGs, you’ll want to pick up Rhapsody DS. Or, if you know a young girl with a DS who wants to try out RPGs, pick up a copy for her. But fans of the original Rhapsody who were counting on extra content may be let down by NIS America’s decision to cut the extra stories and not be satisfied by the nostalgia value that Rhapsody DS brings.
Honestly though, after playing the Rhapsody remake, I found myself longing for the original. So after getting about halfway through the DS version, I went and found my PS1 copy and started a new game. Its nice to have a portable version of a classic game, and know that it could end up becoming a treasured title for RPG beginners, but without the extra story and side-quest, it can’t compare to the original.
Images courtesy of NIS America.