Get these people a tuning fork!
Lately, I believe there's been a resurgence in the puppet movement. We haven't seen those wacky Muppets in awhile, but what about that John Malkovich movie? And then there are all those annoying commercials with that damn sock puppet - like there's any way in hell I'm going to buy pet food from some talking hand.
And now for the game that will end puppetry forever: Rhapsody, the story of a girl searching for her "Prince Charming." Along her journey, she will enlist the aid of puppets, which she brings alive through her magical musical instruments. Are you shaking your head? I am.
This game is akin to your basic Japanese shoujo, or romantic story (think Sailor Moon). There's an air-headed heroine named Cornet, a level headed, quick-tempered sidekick, a love interest, and, don't forget, the supporting cast of puppets.
Rhapsody is a, ahem, 'musical' adventure. It's filled with music o' plenty, translated into English and sung by third rate vocal talents. Somehow, the characters manage to have discussions and arguments through song.
Urrgggh! It's like the part of myself that maintains common sense and logical thought is being choked. The Disney formula of stopping every once and awhile to break into song is fully employed. Trying to even comprehend what these designers were thinking makes my head spin. How strange is this music? Ben Silverman actually likes it, that's how strange! (Ben Silverman is a musical genius. - Ed.)
As an alternative, they've left the Japanese vocals in the game. I suggest you select Japanese, because then you won't have the "problem" of understanding what the song is about. And you won't have to listen to the arguing.
Rhapsody follows the conventions of an old-school RPG. An overworld map. Locations to search out. Villages and dungeons to explore. The game works on a "trigger" based system; when you talk to the right townsperson or kill a certain enemy, that triggers the next part in the game. It's a closed and linear flow.
Once you find yourself in battle, you are given multiple commands, such as move, attack, and use item. Where most contemporary RPGs let you choose only one command for your turn, Rhapsody employs multiple steps for its system. For example, rather than just attacking, you would first move your character into place and then attack. It really isn't that different, and has all the flavor of an old-school fighting engine. To this end, fans of traditional role-playing games will probably find some fun with the bare bones approach.
Cornet has the power to recruit puppets into her team with the aid of her magical trumpet. Throughout the quest, she'll often come upon a lonely puppet in need of care. You can choose whether or not to play your trumpet, thereby choosing whether or not to let the puppet into your crew. Someone shoot me.
The graphics are great... for the Sega Genesis. Now don't get me wrong - I love Genesis graphics, but only in Genesis games. Looking at it positively, Rhapsody has the whole bright and colorful aspect down, but the repetition and lack of detail leave a pasty 16-bit flavor in the mouth.
I can't figure out what kind of consumer the developers are going for. Little girls? Little girls shouldn't play this! They should go watch the Powerpuff Girls and learn how to beat up giant monsters. Little boys shouldn't be playing this, either. It might give them cooties. So exactly who should be playing this, then? Beats me. Maybe retarded kids yearning to sing Kumbayah...
Even coming into this game with an open mind, it's hard to figure this one out. It's an average to sub-average game from a gameplay perspective, but it pretty much falls flat everywhere else. Admittedly, I've watched a shoujo or two, but the Rhapsody story is so conventional that it lulls you to sleep. I've also been to a musical or two, but the lyrics and songs of Rhapsody make the brain lock up. I've played countless RPG's, and the game system is typical and uninspired. Need I say more?