Kisai's Review of Rhapsody
The first of a series of games set in Marl's Kingdom, Rhapsody is strictly light-hearted RPG fare. You play Cornet, a young girl who can communicate with puppets. With her head in the clouds and her heart set on a prince, Cornet's saving grace is that she's very brave and willing to do things even if they are dangerous or make her look foolish. Her determination wins her the heart of a prince, who is then kidnapped by a quartet of sexy yet bumbling witches.
Cornet walks around in locations that are accessible from a world map. New locations appear as you unlock events and there is no travel time between locations. Locations are either a town or a dungeon. Towns are mainly where all of the conversations happen. Dungeons are, layouts of very similar square, top-down, tiles.
Combat is a dumbed down version of Final Fantasy Tactics. Your party consists of Cornet and three puppets or monsters that you've recruited. Most puppets use a short range attack and a family of spells, though a few have a long-range attack, or trade spells for tougher attributes. It must be noted that the difficulty of combat is extremely simple, and level advancement is very quick.
Cornet herself is a support character. She has a basic attack, but no personal spells per se. She supports her puppets by blowing her horn while they are in range, powering their attack up. Each time she does this for a puppet, an "appreciation" gauge fills up, and multiple levels can be traded in for spell effects. This is usually an all enemy attack involving humongous sweets (I have never seen anyone use flan as a weapon before), or full healing & magic recovery for the party.
Cuteness, hammy dialogue, and music reign supreme in Rhapsody. Marl's Kingdom is mainly a fantasy-RPG based world with the odd machine gun or ancient subway thrown in. The game breaks the fourth wall occasionally, mentioning translations and poking fun at itself. Musical interludes abound, and you can elect to hear them in the original Japanese or the English versions. To properly enjoy Rhapsody, you must be able to tolerate wisecracking puppet sidekicks, snobby rivals for the attentions of the Prince, and beauty pagents (with combat competitions, heh).
Cornet does not get any choices in her creation or development. She'll get attributes as she levels, but she'll never get new abilites or spells. Development is strictly reserved for the puppets that she befriends. Each puppet is themed towards an element (fire, water, earth, air,thunder, holy, & dark). Opposing elements do more damage to each other. The best puppets develop spell lists in their elements as they advance. Some puppets far outstrip the rest, such as the Todd McFarlane's Spawn ripoff, or the first puppet that you acquire. You may recruit monsters as well, but they cannot be ressurected, nor do they benefit from Cornet's support.
The head villian, Marjolry, is a centuries old witch who looks and dresses like a stripper who shops at both Fredrick's of Hollywood and Hot Topic. She is immediately smitten with the prince and accidently petrifies him. She's also unable to reverse the petrification on her own. Marjolry is the *only* slightly dangerous character in the game, maybe requiring you to heal several times.
She's assisted by a trio or girls themed on animals. Myao, the youngest, is the mistress of cats. Gao is a tough fighter with a dog's tail. Crowdia is vain and can fly with the wings on her back. The villains take active roles in trying to collect the stones needed to reverse the curse on the prince.