Out back of the Hardcore Gamer office you’ll find our Graveyard, where countless long-dead classics lie. We come here to pay our respects, to reminisce, and to wonder aloud what a passing mad doctor might be able do with all these corpses and some high-definition lightning.
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is a strat-RPG from Nippon Ichi well-known for its musical cut scenes and lighthearted story. The characters were cute, the music was fun, and the story was easy to understand. While it didn’t fit into my normal gaming itinerary with its simplicity and all, it remains one of my favorite PlayStation experiences to date. Sometimes all you really need for a great gaming experience is a piece of fluff that offers little challenge, and Rhapsody delivers.
You fill the role of Cornet Espoire, a young girl who is skilled at playing the trumpet and talking to puppets, apparently. Her best friend, in fact, is a small puppet named Kururu, who seems to be hiding something. Most of the game involves Cornet and Kururu traveling around the in-game world to save the handsome Prince Ferdinand, who Cornet happens to be head-over-heels in love with, even though she has only spent a total of fifteen minutes with him, if that. You see, the evil witch Marjoly also happens to be in love with the prince, so she has stolen him away to her Beauty Castle where he stands beside her, petrified. You can guess how the story goes from there.
You, as Cornet, are free to roam towns and dungeons in any direction, on a 2D background. Battles are executed the same way as many other strat-RPGs, with an allotted amount of squares to move each turn and an option to attack or use a special move such as Cornet’s Horn or Reward. The battles are nothing special, but when you do have to fight, you are not faced with an insane amount of HP to whittle away. No, the monsters are taken down quite easily. You can get through the game without purposefully leveling up and only fighting when a random battle comes up.
There are no puzzles to be found – the only even remotely annoying aspect had to do with the dungeons. Like I said, they all share the same design. It can get more than a little confusing trying to figure out which path to take where, or what stairs to take, and frankly it discouraged me from playing more than once because I just didn’t want to look at another (differently colored) dungeon.
The music is where it’s all at, though. Along with a cute yet somber score, we have 12 different songs that are sung by the characters. You have the option to listen in either English or Japanese, or just mute them entirely. The most important song to the game, “Let’s Go On”, is tender and sweet, and is played at the correct times. Overall the songs were enjoyable but a few seemed they were just there because the creators called it a “Musical Adventure” and needed more than five songs to justify this somehow.
Despite its shortcomings, Rhapsody was a game that resonated with me all those years ago. These days it may not stand out, though it’s a great starter RPG for a child or non-gamer, acting as a gateway drug to more intermediate genre classics. It’s not perfect, but its heart is in the right place. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.