Rhapsody a Musical Adventure Retro Videogame Review

Rhapsody a Musical Adventure is an anime musical strategy JRPG first appearing on PS1 and Later on the Nintendo DS. This review focuses on the PS1 version.

Preface: Okay, while researching some stuff (such as release date, etc) for this review, I discovered there was a sequel, and now I am sad AF because the sequel never left Japan….. Major Heartbreak!

WARNING THIS LINK ABOUT THE SEQUEL HAS HUGE SPOILERS ABOUT BOTH GAMES!!!! READ AT OWN RISK!!! 

The original is one of my all time favorite games. I love all the songs, the heart warming, touching story, the cute characters, adorable graphics, simple grid based turn-based Strategy JRPG gameplay, and use of the puppets in battle.

I greatly prefer the version by Atlus on the PS1, much more than the version by NIS on the DS, because Atlus dubbed all of the songs in English, while NIS only left them in Japanese. If I remember correctly, the version by Atlus let you choose to play them in the original Japanese as well. If it’s a musical, it’s more fun in English, so we can sing along, am I right? 🙂 I still can remember the words/melody to a lot of the songs even though it has been years since my first or subsequent play throughs. NIS also changed the gameplay from a grid based system to a straight forward turn-based traditional JRPG style of combat.

For the purpose of this review, since I prefer the original, and the two games are significantly different in terms of gameplay, this review only covers the PS1 game by Atlus. Now onto the review…

Title: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

Alternate Titles (Also Known As): Marl Kingdom, Little Princess Marl, or Marl Okoku no Ningyo Hime in Japan. Also referred to as The Adventure of Puppet Princess.

Genre: Strategy RPG

Publisher: Atlus

Platform: PSOne

Release Date: 2000

Where to Buy: If you want new, factory sealed, you’re looking at $250. Luckily, many used copies exist for under $35. You can check the current price and purchase Rhapsody for the PS1 here.

You can also find the Nintendo version here. Though if at all possible, I’d really urge you to play the PS1 version, it’s just so much infinitely better.

Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Geeky: 3/5 – Dated as this game may be, its bright colorful graphics are still quite pretty. The combat is nothing spectacular and it is linear and simple. The big “geek” points go to the fact that the game is literally a musical. The characters break out into song and dance and the soundtrack very much tells us the story. There are well over a dozen or more vocal tracks and all of the characters are fully voiced. Interestingly enough, wikipedia tells me that it was almost entirely a one girl show, what a talented voice actress! She gave voice/song to all except for 3 or 4 of the characters.

Sweetie: 5/5 – the graphic style is so cute and colorful, the characters are very full of emotion and there is a ton of humor, as well as romance, and a message about the meaning of family, and morals, and just… everything. Also strong female leads, which was pretty rare “back in the day”. This game is a must play for all girls.

Overview: 10/10 – There is simply nothing else in the world like this game. It’s an anime musical JRPG. It has adorable graphics, touching, amusing, and likable characters, and is brimming with “feels and emotions”. From a technical standpoint, there’s really nothing ground breaking here. It is very typical of gameplay in most other Strategy JRPGs of its time. But the music and characters set this game apart and make it an extremely unique experience.

Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay isn’t bad, but it’s not the reason you play this game. This game is very easy and simple. The main character takes a back seat, supporting her army of puppets who move around a grid and use various items, attacks, and abilities to thwart their foes. It’s a linear game that takes you from point A to point B, pretty monotonously and mindlessly. This game is carried by the music, voice acting, memorable characters, and touching story. There are different costumes you can find and different puppets you can add to your team, but other than that, it’s a pretty straight forward experience if you’ve ever played any other Strategy JRPGs before.

Story: 10/10 – Cornet is a kindhearted girl who has a magical gift in that she is able to communicate with dolls and puppets. One such doll is Cornet’s faithful sidekick, Kururu. Kururu has guided the young Cornet all her life. Cornet is often lonely as her mother passed away at an early age. However, despite her loneliness, Cornet remains cheerful, kind, and helpful to all of the villagers in part thanks to her puppet friends. She is regarded as a simple and sweet girl, and many of the villagers take pity on her for not having a mother.

Although she is just a common girl, Cornet has fallen in love with the Prince. Unrealistic as her love may be, Cornet has always believed in “dreaming big” and her innocent outlook on life leads her to hope that anything is possible.

Cornet isn’t the only one with eyes for the prince however. A beautiful witch appears in the kingdom one day with her sights set on the prince. When the prince refuses her advances, the witch casts a spell on him turning him to stone.

Thus begins Cornet’s series of quests to reverse the witch’s curse. The witch has many henchmen and lackeys who try to interfere in Cornet’s plans.

As she travels, Cornet will make new friends and enemies, both human and puppet alike. Also she will learn more about herself, her mother, and her unique gifts and talents.

Characters: 10/10 Cornet is the star of our show, a simple, pure hearted girl who can talk to puppets. She lost her mother when she was very young and has mostly been raised by a strange talking puppet named Kururu.

Prince Ferdinand is the prince who early in our story is turned to stone. Cornet and Marjolly are both in love with the Prince.

Marjolly is a wicked but beautiful witch who vengefully curses the prince when he refuses her romantically. Marjolly is also not very skilled at magic, and somewhat of a “bumbling idiot”. Her spells often have very unintended consequences and/or back fire. She is often less “evil” feeling and more of a “comedic relief” despite being the main villain in the game.

Kururu is a “living doll” who has always watched out for and guided Cornet. The two are extremely close. And there is a secret that Cornet does not know about her puppet friend.

Etoile is a wealthy and beautiful, but ill tempered and spoiled girl who is close to Cornet’s age. Although she is “better than” Cornet in almost every way, she still feels jealous and inferior and threatened by Cornet. The two have an interesting love/hate relationship, frenemies if you will.

There are many other delightful and wonderful characters as well.

Graphics: 7/10 – Although dated severely, the graphics remain bright and colorful and still attractive, even 17 years after its initial US release. Also in a time when retro gaming is very popular, and pixel art is “in” – what was once old, is now hot again. An interesting thing to note, although there are many, many cutscenes, these are done with the same sprites and pixel graphics as the rest of the game, unlike other anime games of that time such as Persona and Lunar which use a more hand-drawn or anime style for their cutscenes. This in one way helps keep things cohesive and flowing well from one moment to the next, however, it does result in less detailed cutscenes. The sprites are still adorable and animated and capable of conveying a lot of emotion despite the simple sprites. I would love to see a new release with anime cutscenes (like Lunar and Persona) and/or celshading used throughout the game and cutscenes (such as with Catherine).

Music: 10/10 – Easily 10/10 – one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time because of the huge number of vocal tracks and how they tie in so closely to the story – in fact, they ARE the story. Many of them are insanely, like seriously insanely catchy!!! I love the songs in this game!!

Voice Acting – 10/10 – They sing and act, and as I mentioned, one girl gives voice to about 6 of the main characters – very talented!  If you hate dubs (which trust me, I usually do too!) you can also play with the Japanese audio. 🙂 But then you can’t sing along, or as easily get the song stuck in your head the next day lol.

Replay Value: 3/10 – It’s linear, and simple, and the only reason you will want to replay is to re-read the heartwarming story, and hear that awesome soundtrack again. I’ve replayed this at least 3 or 4 times now and love it every single time – but objectively, yeah there’s really nothing here story or gameplay wise for increased replay value.

Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Rhapsody a Musical Adventure Retro Videogame Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Fuuka Anime Review

Fuuka is a relatively new anime that is part of Crunchyroll’s Winter Simulcast lineup. You can watch Fuuka for free on Crunchyroll here.

Fuuka is very similar to other band slice of life anime such as Beck Mongolian Chop Squad or Nana. If you like either of these anime, I think you’ll also enjoy Fuuka.

Check out my “Early Review” for episodes 1 through 4 of Fuuka below, and catch Episode 5 on Crunchyroll Friday at 11:00am EST.

Title: Fuuka

Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

Length: 12 Episodes (so far only 4 have aired).

Related Media: Fuuka is a sequel to another anime called Suzuka. Fuuka is actually the daughter of one of the main characters in Suzuka. Both Fuuka and Suzuka also have manga adaptations, and Fuuka’s manga is currently still running with new material.

PS: You can enjoy this series without watching Suzuka – I had never heard of Suzuka until I was researching my blog post tonight – and only just started watching Fuuka tonight too and already in love with it. It’s definitely “my kind” of anime! Suzuka is similar but instead of a love triangle in a band, it’s a love triangle in a sports anime. I may marathon it this week while waiting for the next episode of Fuuka :).

Studio: Diomedia and Funimation

Where to watch: Crunchyroll

Geeky: 3/5 – The animation and music are both highlights in this series with extremely high production values; however the slow plot and short overall length of the series could alienate some fans.

Sweetie: 4/5 Awesome characters and story with love as a huge focus and slice of life about kids starting a band. Took away one heart for huge amounts of fanservice.

Concept: 9/10 – It’s not terribly original. (-1 point) It’s been done before, and probably done better before too… but Overall, I am in love with the premise of this series. Two childhood friends drift appear, reconnecting years later – One is well on their way to fulfilling their dreams and promises; while the other simply drifts aimlessly through life until a key event occurs which puts them also on the path to their destiny.

There is a huge love triangle/love rivalry at the center of this drama. There’s also huge  amounts of significant character growth and development. Already just within 4 episodes, we’ve witnessed the main character overcome his fears and shyness and learn to speak up, and we’ve seen already several relationship ups and downs.

As for the female lead whom is the namesake of this show, we’ve watched her, also like the male lead, go from wandering aimlessly, to having a purpose and a goal and a vision. We’ve also seen that although she can essentially be a tomboy, that she too gets shy and awkward at times, and has trouble expressing her feelings.

Also within just 4 episodes we’ve watched them find and recruit all of the necessary members for their band, and even put on an impromptu performance.

Story: 10/10 – If relationship drama and slice of life is not your cup of tea, you will not be too interested in this — However, for me, it’s my favorite genre; and yes, although there are similar anime dealing with “band drama” (Beck, Nana, Your Lie in April, and White Album to name only a very small few) — I still find the concept refreshing and enjoyable.

To put it simply, the story revolves around a love triangle between “music geeks” who are pursuing their dreams of becoming either solo artists or rock band musicians. I’d like to say “pretty sure we know how the triangle will end” given the name of the show… but that is not necessarily true you know~!! Similar Manga such as Nana have had a lot of failed relationships and couples that you’d think should be together, but aren’t.

It could just be that Fuuka goes on to become an idol and fulfill her dream (which is to sing). She could go on to become a strong, independent character — she already is so much stronger than the more emotionally weak (but successful already in her singing career) love rival that she’s pitted against.

Though we do witness weak, tender, and vulnerable sides of Fuuka as well. At this point it’s anyone’s guess how the story will go. Who will Yuu choose? Or perhaps none of those relationships will pan out.

Aside from the love triangle, you witness the day-to-day struggles of performing music, and see the characters at school, work, and home, typical slice of life stuff here.

Fuuka anime review
Fuuka anime review

Characters 10/10: The story begins by introducing the male lead, Yuu, who will become the bass player for the band. He is a very shy and awkward soft-spoken boy who finds escapism online and has difficulty connecting with others face to face.

One day he meets the namesake of the series, Fuuka, as she’s dashing across the street and bumps into him, because he is so busy looking at his phone. This creates a misunderstanding about why he was using his phone, and it won’t be the last misunderstanding between them either.

Fuuka is an extremely energetic and bright young girl who has a strong tomboy streak and acts very unlady-like at most times. Like a lot of young people, she wonders what she should be doing with her life. One day, she gets free concert tickets to a live event. As they’re walking home, she begins to sing, and finds encouragement and feedback from Yuu, which causes her to impulsively want to form a band. She pretty much forces Yuu to go along with her idea, and Yuu can’t say no at this point, because his personality is weak, and Fuuka is very dominant at this point.

They also enlist the help of a classmate who is charming and good looking but “not interested in girls” as he himself says lol. He becomes the keyboard artist for the group.

Lastly, they recruit an upper classman who has been pestering Fuuka to join the track and field team oneday when he lets it slip that his big brother used to be a drummer; thus, he too becomes a drummer like his brother.

As mentioned, there’s also a very prominent love rival in the form of a childhood friend of the main character.

The main character also lives in a house full of females (enter more copious amounts of fanservice). And a cast of side characters consisting of teachers and advisers who also happen to be former band-mates who have taken the new members under the wing.

Anyways, most of all, I can’t explain but the namesake of this show is just so darn cute sometimes (in her actions and facial expressions). And there are some truly cute moments between both “couples” in the series… It’s definitely the cute characters that make this series for me, especially Fuuka!

Artwork: 4/5 I love the artwork in this series; they way their eyes are drawn and the detail and light in their eyes is especially pretty. However — could do without the huge amounts of blatant fanservice.

Music: 5/5 – Thankfully this is really, really good; I mean it’s an anime about music, so it’d better be good right? lol. Crunchyroll for some reason doesn’t have subtitles on the opening or ending theme which is a bummer, but no fault of course of this anime and just a fail on Crunchy’s part.

The music is fast paced, and more “J-Rock” infused. Once again similar in ways to Beck and Nana with the same “vibe”. There are also a few tracks (from the love rival) which are definitely more soft and Pop inspired.

Voice Acting: 5/5 They have to be able to both sing and act, so I once again give this a 5 out of 5.

Overall: 50/55 91% A- “Excellent Anime For Girls”

Fuuka Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Nekopalive Now On Steam – and has VR Support. Nekopalive Available Now. Not a Joke. Catgirl Idol Simulation Game. PS: It’s Free.

Look what just popped up on my facebook feed….

Nekopalive, Nekoparadise, Neko, Catgirl, Catgirls, Idol, Idols, Idol Simulation, Idols Sim, Idols Simulation, Catcert, catcerto, Concert, Singing, Dancing, Rhythm Game, DDR, Parapara, Kawaii, Cute, Moe, Love Live, Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live School Idol, Love Live School Idol Anime, Love Live Game, Free Game, VR, Virtual Reality, Free Virtual Reality Game, Free VR Game, HTC Vive, Occulus Rift
Nekopalive, Nekopara, Nekoparadise, Neko, Catgirl, Catgirls, Idol, Idols, Idol Simulation, Idols Sim, Idols Simulation, Catcert, catcerto, Concert, Singing, Dancing, Rhythm Game, DDR, Parapara, Kawaii, Cute, Moe, Love Live, Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live School Idol, Love Live School Idol Anime, Love Live Game, Free Game, VR, Virtual Reality, Free Virtual Reality Game, Free VR Game, HTC Vive, Occulus Rift

According to the official game page gameplay seems to be that of a rhythm game:

“What’s NEKOPALIVE? Why, it’s a “cat-certo!” The catgirls of La Soleil take to the stage and step into the spotlight with their very own live concerts. Dancing, singing, MIX’ing and purring, this is the NEKOPARA event that comes right home to you, and you’ve got the best seat in the house! No idol can compare to a catgirl! 🐾

Match the rhythm to cheer on the stars of the show! Watch them become the greatest idols of all! ” (Source: https://sekaiproject.com/2016/05/31/nekopalive-now-on-steam/ )

Nekopalive, Nekoparadise, Neko, Catgirl, Catgirls, Idol, Idols, Idol Simulation, Idols Sim, Idols Simulation, Catcert, catcerto, Concert, Singing, Dancing, Rhythm Game, DDR, Parapara, Kawaii, Cute, Moe, Love Live, Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live School Idol, Love Live School Idol Anime, Love Live Game, Free Game, VR, Virtual Reality, Free Virtual Reality Game, Free VR Game, HTC Vive, Occulus Rift

This free game will work with HTC Vive and Occulus Rift. I think it can also work without a VR Headset.

It features cute adorable cat girls from the visual kinetic novel games Nekopara as they get transformed into Japanese idol singers.

The cute jpop songs featured in the trailer are very catchy.

Gameplay seems quick and easy to pick up. A treat for fans of casual styled games like Love Live, or rhythm games such as DDR or Parapara.

Since it’s free you can head over to steam and pick it up right now. http://store.steampowered.com/app/469990

Check out the Screenshots below:

Nekopalive, Nekoparadise, Neko, Catgirl, Catgirls, Idol, Idols, Idol Simulation, Idols Sim, Idols Simulation, Catcert, catcerto, Concert, Singing, Dancing, Rhythm Game, DDR, Parapara, Kawaii, Cute, Moe, Love Live, Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live School Idol, Love Live School Idol Anime, Love Live Game, Free Game, VR, Virtual Reality, Free Virtual Reality Game, Free VR Game, HTC Vive, Occulus Rift

Nekopalive, Nekoparadise, Neko, Catgirl, Catgirls, Idol, Idols, Idol Simulation, Idols Sim, Idols Simulation, Catcert, catcerto, Concert, Singing, Dancing, Rhythm Game, DDR, Parapara, Kawaii, Cute, Moe, Love Live, Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live School Idol, Love Live School Idol Anime, Love Live Game, Free Game, VR, Virtual Reality, Free Virtual Reality Game, Free VR Game, HTC Vive, Occulus Rift

Nekopalive, Nekoparadise, Neko, Catgirl, Catgirls, Idol, Idols, Idol Simulation, Idols Sim, Idols Simulation, Catcert, catcerto, Concert, Singing, Dancing, Rhythm Game, DDR, Parapara, Kawaii, Cute, Moe, Love Live, Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live School Idol, Love Live School Idol Anime, Love Live Game, Free Game, VR, Virtual Reality, Free Virtual Reality Game, Free VR Game, HTC Vive, Occulus Rift

Nekopalive Now On Steam – and has VR Support. Nekopalive Available Now. Not a Joke. Catgirl Idol Simulation Game. PS: It’s Free. was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Steambot Chronicles | Retro Game Review | JRPG | RPG | PS2 | Playstation 2

I hope everyone had an excellent holiday. Today I’m reviewing Steambot Chronicles for PS2. This is one of my favorite games because of the amount of things to do and see as well as the unique steam punk setting within the game.

Title: Steambot Chronicles

Publisher: Atlus

Platform: PS2

Release Date: 2006

Where to Buy: Amazon seems to be the only way to go (aside from ebay of course). The game was a commercial failure in north america, so not many copies exist; and it was before Atlus “struck gold” (and attainted a cult following) with games like Persona 3 and 4. There are currently 2 copies available on Amazon at time of this review for $90 – $120. You can keep checking back. Here is the page for the game on Amazon right here. Edit: Actually there appears to be 2 pages on Amazon; and this one has 11 copies of the game available; some for only $45 – You can check this page also for where to buy Steambot Chronicles on PS2.

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Overall: 71/80 89% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Steambot Chronicles combines traditional JRPG elements with a rhythm game. Mechs also play a huge role in the game, as the player can buy or find new mechs, new parts, and customize their mechs to their play style with either fast moving, but weaker mechs, or more heavy duty but slower mechs. Similarly, you can customize your concert experience by purchasing new instruments. You can also find and purchase new outfits and accessories for your characters as well. At the beginning of the game you can customize your hero’s personality by taking a personality test (similar to Tactics Ogre – which I have reviewed here) which will change some of the dialog throughout the game in terms of how the other characters will interact with you. The game is mostly linear with the illusion of choice, with lots of options for you to choose but often resulting in similar outcomes; except for one important choice near the end of the game. In all, the game has a total of 3 different endings. There’s also cooking, dating, and minigames that add to the depth of the gameplay as well.

Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is really two fold – the main focus of the game is battling in mechs similar to games such as Xenogears or Robopit. Combat is in real time and you can run, jump, and try to out maneuver your opponent. You pilot your mecha with the two analog sticks and issue commands with the controller buttons. You work on upgrading your mech or can purchase or find new mechs and parts throughout the game. Mechs are used for everything, from travel, to battle, to even mini games. The other main focus is on music, you, and the other members of your party travel around the world putting on concerts. During these events, you, the player, interact with the game in a rythym game that’s similar to games such as Parrapa the Rapper and Umjammer Lammy. There are also other interesting “side” elements to the game such as a stock exchange, dating simulator, city building / interior decorating, cooking, arena battles, and dungeon crawling. There’s also day/night cycles and other elements which make the game feel more lively and immersive.

Story: 6/10 I’ve only played the “good” side. You can also be evil in this game, if you want to, which drastically changes the second half / end of the game. In both sides, the story focuses initially on helping a girl named Coriander whose mother is very sick. This prompts you to join a band with the young girl and several other quirky characters who become your comrades and orchestra members. Most of the conflict and drama in the game comes from rival gangs which are taking over the cities and causing corruption. In the evil side, you cut ties with the band in order to join one such gang in exchange for profits and power. Police will be chasing you and most of the missions will involve things like stealing or breaking and entering. In the good side, you stick by your band members, but like most bands, there are growing pains, and conflicts arise which cause the band members to eventually go their own way. The ending is left somewhat “open” and you can continue to play in sandbox mode after completing the main story. The story is at times heart warming, and even heart breaking, but it takes a back seat to the gameplay. This is not really a game that you play for “story”. The story is not bad of course, but in no way is it the main focus of the game.

Characters: 10/10 Each of the characters are truly unique and it shows through deep attention to detail in character development and the way in which they are all connected through a tragic backstory. It throws a few punches and has a few surprises in store for you when the story is played out and the cards are on the table. The band as mentioned above, has some “growing pains” and the cast who were once all childhood friends, face losing these friendships, or learning that perhaps certain people were harboring dark secrets all along. Actually you become very attached to the characters and when it throws its punches as it will, it will break your heart.

Music: 10/10 – Music plays such a huge role in this game. Similar to Atlus’ other quirky musical rpg (Rhapsody), the localization of this game, in terms of voice acting and singing, is actually very well done. I am usually anti-dub, but I guess when it comes to musical games like this, I enjoy a game where I can “sing along” (in my head lol). I really liked all the tracks in this game, and the way it engages the user with the rhythm game aspects which makes you really pay attention to the music and appreciate it that much more. Also the music itself ties into the storyline and helps you feel closer to the cast of characters.

Voice Acting: 8/10 – The voice acting is good, for a dub. I would have preferred the option left in for Japanese voice acting; but to be honest, not sure I would have played it in Japanese, because I prefer to play similar games such as Rhapsody in English (the later released portable edition of Rhapsody removed the English tracks; and kinda “ruined” the game for me). I think when it comes to a “musical” rpg it just “helps” to have it in your native language. I do listen to jpop and kpop music and enjoy it; but in this case, in Steambot chronicles, the music helps explain the story and helps tell key scenes or helps you to sympathize with the characters. So it’s one of those rare cases where I feel I’d probably enjoy the dub more than the sub. Rhapsody and the upcoming SMT X FE # are two other cases where I could see myself playing the dub more often. I think dubbing it was a smart move in the case of Steambot Chronicles. The dub is not “bad”. It had some big name Anime Voice Acting talent of the 90s.

Graphics: 7/10 – The game is cel shaded and done in a cute and colorful anime style. You can see your outfits which gives it a sorta dressupgame style. You can see the customization to your mech too. The world is lively with traffic in the cities and day and night cycles. The overworld is large with mountains and bumpy terrain (the original japanese title is Bumpy Trot). There’s lots to see and lots to do. But the graphics have some pretty poor textures and the special effects in combat leave a bit to be desired. Still, overall it’s cute with lots of customization, so it gets high marks on graphics from me. The cel shading is not of the quality of say, Catherine (which I’ve reviewed here); but it is also one generation older than that, and a PS2 Game. I think given it’s timeline, the graphics in Steambot Chronicles are quite adorable and vibrant.

Overall: 71/80 89% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Steambot Chronicles | Retro Game Review | JRPG | RPG | PS2 | Playstation 2 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie