|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nippon Ichi Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Battles do require some strategy, but, for the most part, the challenge is lean. However, unless a particular enemy is casting an area spell, most times all enemies attack the same character in your party during a given melee round. So, if youre unlucky, one of your party members can get knocked out from these absurd gang-ups.
Its not something likely to ever cause you to see the game over screen, but it definitely makes battles less interesting. The game also does a poor job of explaining what each of the Specials (Flan, Cake, Pancake, etc.) do or where you need to go next to complete a given objective. Additionally, as is the norm with games of its era, youll have to contend with random encounters in the world of Rhapsody. There are no monster icons while traversing areas of the game, and unsolicited battles can be a chore when youre only interested in making your way to your next destination. But even up against todays standards, overall, the gameplay in Rhapsody offers an entertaining RPG for folks new to the genre.
In addition to the topnotch dialogue, Rhapsody sports some lovely visuals as well. The hand-drawn backgrounds are simply beautiful, and the 2D sprites are very detailed and animate nicely; you can actually see characters blink and roll their eyes, purse their lips, and you even get the occasional breast jiggle. However, the characters only have four sides to view, and when moving diagonally, youll still only see either the front or rear view of your character. Its an archaic artifact something players are accustomed to seeing on the GBA, but it looks dated on DS. Additionally, the game recycles many of the dungeon templates over and over with only minor changes to the color tinting for each. On the whole, though, Rhapsody is still a good-looking game that fits nicely on the system.
Since this is a musical RPG adventure, players will likely expect the aural elements to stand out. Rhapsody both succeeds and falls a bit short in this department. The music is very enjoyable, if not dripping with sweetness, and youll even be treated to entire musical performances (albeit sung in Japanese) by various characters throughout the game. If you arent too manly to enjoy the likes of West Side Story or, more recently, Moulin Rouge, youll appreciate how Rhapsody brings some of those sensibilities to a video game. The songs add a lot to the story and overall feel of the rest of what the game has to offer, and its a nice break-away change from the average RPG experience. However, the sound effects are severely lacking, and, during battles, youll rarely receive any feedback when characters and enemies attack one another. There are no movement sounds, either, when traversing the world of the game, and the lack of subtle effects does leave the experience feeling a bit hollow.
Regardless of Rhapsodys shortcomings, the game manages to offer an enjoyable and very funny experience; none of it makes much sense, but then, its not really meant to. The story is based on childrens-book fantasy, yet it does a wonderful job of poking fun at itself, as well as RPG conventions in general. Younger gamers will likely find its sweet and cheerful mood and easy difficulty an enjoyable, early RPG outing, and older gamers if theyre not yet too jaded should appreciate its comical approach to an aged, old-school formula. Theres plenty to do in the game, and after the main adventure concludes, players will be treated to additional gameplay and story. For those folks whove already experienced Rhapsody on PlayStation, well, even the new content might be a hard sell, considering all the RPG variety now available on DS. But Rhapsody offers silly fun on the go for newcomers in the mood for something extremely lighthearted with no real rhyme or reason.
CCC Freelance Writer