There’s Music in the Madness

Rhapsody Marl Kingdom Chronicles is a collection of two games Rhapsody II: Ballard of the Little Princess and Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom both of which were PlayStation One and PlayStation 2 games respectively and only available in Japan meaning now this is officially the first time these games have seen an English release.

Rhapsody II: Ballard of the Little Princess

Rhapsody II: Ballard of the Little Princess is a tongue-in-cheek humour JRPG adventure filled with musical cutscenes and turn based battles. What really sets the game apart from other JRPG’s is the setting which is very lighthearted, you play as a young princess named Kururu who is eager to follow in her mothers footsteps and find her prince charming and by doing so constantly sneaks out of the castle even after being told constantly not to. It isn’t long before you get the first musical cutscene in which characters dance and sing and even bring outside NPC’s into the frame. This is when you begin to really see what kind of game Rhapsody II is trying to be.

Graphically the game looks like you would expect of a remaster of a PlayStation One game but it does come with some options on the graphics themselves. You can play Pixelated or with a CRT filter overlay or with smooth graphics which takes out the pixels giving you a semi smooth finish look. it’s pretty interesting to try all the options and no matter which one you pick it keeps the charm of the game.

As previously mentioned the game is turn based and battles are random and quite regular. There is only one minor issue with this as areas while aren’t completely confusing some are repeated such as in the woods or the sewers with similar looking rooms, they aren’t massive areas to explore but taking a break from the game may make it difficult in remembering where to go. With the game being so easy to over level the difficulty of the game is none existent. Rhapsody II is definitely something that appeals to players who don’t want to think too much strategically as the gameplay itself is very simple and with an abundant of over the top, silly attacks, the fun of the game is watching these play out in battle as Kururu battles with her puppets by paying them money to do their deeds.

Rhapsody II is separated into chapters and as you finish you will move onto the next, the game is quite linear but there’s some exploration other than the main objective. There are shops all in the first City which you can buy equipment and jewels for both protagonists and puppets. While there is a lot of variety in how to build the party with how easy the game is it isn’t even necessary to go hard unless you want to absolutely annihilate your opponents going forward.

The humour and more comedic moments of Rhapsody II is again something that never lets up. Without spoiling anything the whole of the second chapter you had to rescue some NPC’s and once done and you moved into the next chapter some characters and NPC’s would mention the incident that happened in the second chapter much to the disgust of Kururu. A lot of the funny interactions even happened with NPC’s and this just is more reason as to make sure you interact with them at every point possible, even after a chapter has finished, some of the previous NPC’s will have fresh dialogue.

Musically Rhapsody II is where it shines, you are greeted with a full musical title screen which sets up the game going forward and the music remains catchy and unforgettable throughout. The town music is one of the most pleasant I have heard and I find it stuck in my head many times and it really gives off the vibe of a small princess in a giant city looking for her prince charming, and with the abundance of musicals in the game, expect lots of lyrical songs throughout.

Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom

Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom is the second game to feature in Rhapsody Marl Kingdom Chronicles and is the sequel to Rhapsody II: Ballard of the Little Princess and concludes the stories of beloved characters in the series.

Rhapsody III builds on some of the foundations of Rhapsody II: Ballard of the Little Princess with updates to the battle system. While still turn based it isn’t as easy as you would expect and enemies hit harder this time around. You also have combined character attacks and an improved battle camera screen enhancing the battles giving them a 3D effect.

The visual enchantment at the heart of Rhapsody III also gives it an enhanced appeal. Character portraits have seen a significant improvement and backgrounds look vibrant and less pixelated. Whilst both game have a depth and warmth about them akin to that of a fairytale story book.

It goes without saying but be sure to play Rhapsody II: Ballard of the Little Princess so that you can tie the loose ends up before finishing Rhapsody III in its entirety. The best thing about Rhapsody Marl Kingdom Chronicles is that both games included are very easy to pick up and play in short bursts and have a decent enough playtime whilst not feeling overstayed or feeling too short-lived. The story whilst charming keeps a humorous narrative throughout the series and it’s not hard to wonder why the game does have a cult following. It’s fair to say that I am now part of that cult.

A PlayStation 5 Review Code was provided by NIS America