Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
"You know, kissing. Something you young people do on a daily basis." - Polanski

Story: Cornet Espoir dreams of her prince who will save her. One fine day, he actually saves her, she goes all out to get his heart, and on the night that they finally have a chance to talk, this evil witch takes him away and Cornet goes on a journey to find a way to get her prince back with the aid of Kururu, a little talking puppet.

When I see this game, I think of Disney movies. It's a scary thought, I know. It's not my fault, really. Why? Read on.

Plot: The story is quite uncliched in the sense that the heroine goes and saves her prince. Not the other way round. So, should we take this as girl power? I guess, whatever suits you.

As a whole, the story is very simple and although there are a few twists, there's nothing really confusing to the lengths of Vagrant Story or Final Fantasy Tactics (notice I compare everything to these two?). Gaps in Cornet's memory are resolved and there's a happy ending. A few scenes are touching, and some are absolutely hilarious. I liked some of the enemies too.

And hey, Cornet attacks with a horn. A trumpet. Factually correct, a *cornet*. Cornet has a cornet. ^__^

Music: There's a reason why it's called a *musical adventure*, you know. At the oddest times (for me, it was when both my parents were around), the characters will launch into a song and dance routine. Really weird looking, especially when you're looking at 2D sprites. Thankfully, the game gives you the option of change between English and Japanese songs, so my experience was a painless one. Hooray for original songs supposed to be sung in the language it was intended!

Surprisingly, I liked the boss battle music.

Graphics: This is not the reason why you bought this game. Nope. Not at all. This is pure 2D, let's just leave it at that. The graphics look like they can be ported to the SNES with no problems. Magic effects in battle are simple and convey the message. If it's called a "Pancake Attack", then you have pancakes covering up the screen. Fair.

At least in all it's colour, you have cute little portraits of the characters that show their emotions. I mean, they change as the conversation progresses. The environments are quite detailed, being Legend of Mana-ish and all. I'm not saying I dislike it. Rather, I'm saying that by making it the way it is, the feeling of an anime is conveyed. I liked it.

Towns are varied and colourful. You talk to people, you could go and examine a basket of oranges and there'll be a description. Everything's just so colourful and distinct, that is all.

Of course, the dungeons are a different matter.

The caves and towers that you explore all look the same. Sure, the ice temple might have a blue filter, and the volcano would have a red filter, but they all LOOK THE SAME. You could go to two separate places and they'll LOOK THE SAME. You could get lost inside those stupid places because they LOOK THE SAME! The same picture you saw in the first scene can be repeated a little while later, so you'll end up confusing yourself, one way or another.

How the FAQ writers got through all that, I'll never know.

Gameplay: It's a strategy RPG. You have your isometric grids. You use puppets (some of which can induce nightmares, I tell you...) help Cornet fight in battle. You use items, you level up. It's a simpler strategy RPG than most out there. Characters level up so fast you wouldn't know what happened. Either way, I stayed with three puppets and Cornet for the entirety of the game, and it paid off well.

Be warned that this game, sidequests and all, will take you about 11 hours to finish, less if you know what you're doing. It's short.

Nitpicks: This game has references to previous Atlus games, like Thousand Arms and Tail Concerto (read everything you can find). Besides that, illustrations not found anywhere (yet) are unlocked during the course of the game. Same goes for the songs. I wish they unlocked the Japanese songs as well.

And for the REALLY observant, if you stare at the credits till your retinas burn, you'll find Akihiko Yoshida (The guy responsible for FFT's noseless populace and the funky Vagrant Story fashions)  in there as part of the staff. He didn't do the character designs, but he's part of it (Battle programming, I believe). Either way, it's nice to know he does other stuff.

Observe even MORE, and you'll see that Tomizawa Michie (Sailor Mars) sang as the evil Queen Marjoly. Now you have a reason to listen to these songs in Japanese. Hurrah.

Verdict: Some liked it. Some didn't like it. I like it. You may not like it. Buy or no, it's up to you. But refrain from destroying your controller as you navigate through dungeons. You have been warned.

Grade: B+

+ A 'different' story, I'll tell you that.
+ The option to choose between English and Japanese for the songs.
+ Cutesy character designs.
+ Nice songs
+ Colours, colours everywhere!
+ Save anywhere!
+ The God of Darkness is a fluffy white bunny!!!!!

- Really, REALLY repetitive dungeons.
- Really, REALLY short RPG.
- Some of the puppets really, REALLY scare me.
- The God of Darkness is a fluffy white bunny!!!!!