Review – Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles

Perhaps it’s just me, but has anyone ever had the urge to burst into song? I sure as hell have. It happens rather frequently, too, and is accompanied by a perceived operatic voice that’s nowhere near that level of skill, but the acoustics of my bathroom do it justice, or so my wishful thinking would assume. The fact of the matter is what I’m describing is a musical – a spectacle that consists of people singing about whatever they’re doing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a specific charm that leaves many infatuated. That said, it makes me ask what would occur if this concept were translated into a video game. I’m curious, and Nippon Ichi seems keen to answer my whims.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure was released back in 1999 for the PlayStation. It’s without hyperbole that I say it’s an exceedingly unique JRPG. I wouldn’t play this series until recently when the first romp was paired with another in Prinny Presents Vol. 3. I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty cute, but it didn’t quite hit the wide audience here in the West. As a result, neither of the sequels made it out of Japan. Well, NIS America wants to right that wrong, and they’re doing it with style in 2023 by unleashing both the second and third. Toss on some AirPods and strap in – our ears are about to be serenaded.

Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles priest

I’ve asked myself the same. I’m a nerd, have childlike glee, I…never mind. I know now.

When it concerns Rhapsody 2, the story is minuscule. You’re Kururu, the protagonist’s daughter from the initial romp, and that’s it. It’s as basic as basic can be – even a white girl buying a Pumpkin Spice Latte couldn’t reach these heights. It won’t fare differently in the third either. If you’re familiar with the shenanigans that Nippon Ichi loves to partake in, then you’re aware of the lunacy that awaits. The classic breed of humor that NIS America routinely bathes in is not only alive, but it’s thriving. It cranks the knob all the way up to eleven on ridiculousness, thus introducing a tidal wave of silly energy. Don’t anticipate depth – the literary work isn’t profound, but damn it if it’s not dumb fun.

Another NIS trademark is the pension to dive into perversion frequently. As such, it’s fair to surmise it gets suggestive, but it isn’t overly prominent. Sure, there are morsels here and there, but in a surprise twist, there’s also emotion. That said, I would be remiss not to mention those insane jiggle physics or the tongue-in-cheek jokes about boobs being somewhat often – Rhapsody seems to have a fetish for breasts. When it’s not indulging in kinks, though, it’s relishing in being disgusting. The game is balls to the wall when pushing the boundaries – one scene involving ice cream is especially crude. Without a doubt, the humor heavily leans towards immaturity, and if that’s not your cup of tea, I don’t anticipate it’s for you.

The one question I’m sure is bubbling up inside of you, dear reader, is if you must witness the events of the first before you can take the plunge into the Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles. To be blunt, it’s a double-edged blade. On the one hand, the story is contained enough to deliver a satisfying jaunt, yet, on the other hand, if you have prior knowledge, those little references tossed out won’t be brushed aside. You’d understand each of them, thus contributing to an enhanced session. Think of it like an informative easter egg – your enjoyment happens regardless, but it receives a sweet boost if you’re privy to all the wink, wink, nudge, nudge quips.

Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Pokomyan

Who knew not having a B-Cup bra size would be a key thread of narrative.

While the plot is unmistakably shallow, everyone still undergoes a chunk of development. Whether it’s Kururu and her best friend, Crea, or Cornet, I was taken aback by their subtle growth. It’s wholesome, and when combined with the perpetual goofiness of the script, it kept me in a good mood throughout the many hours I invested. The banter, particularly, is a highlight and made me smile ear to ear. Granted, while there’s a noticeable absence of climatic twists, it remains delightful. Now, that isn’t to say there’s nothing because one aspect did grab my intrigue. It’s a nice little mystery that may be generic in concept, but execution is mint – I was gleefully along for the ride.

One complaint I had with Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure was the nonsensical combat system. It was on a grid a lá SRPGs, but without any of the advantages you’d expect to have. There’s no purpose. Thankfully, the Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles has done away with this travesty, replacing it with a simplistic turn-based one. It doesn’t have frills and no convolution – it’s the purest form of the mechanic. I have a selection of commands, and by picking one, the corresponding action occurs. I friggin adore it, in lieu of how plain it is, but sadly, I can’t in good conscience say that it doesn’t come with a glaring issue.

It’s twofold really, with a huge factor being the rampant encounters – it damn near feels like every step. Yeah, an argument could be made that because the actual fights themselves don’t take too long, it, in theory, helps mitigate tedium, but that’s not a thing in practice. See, it’s repetitious, and I’d even feel the wane of boredom peeking at me from the shadows. I suppose on the bright side; it means grinding isn’t a bother since I easily became OP as I casually played. It’s also perfect for zoning out as you traverse a cave while catching up on a podcast or audiobook. There are pros and cons, and which direction you lean towards depends on your subjective opinion, but for me, it’s adequate.

nice undies

I suppose a nice pair of underwear does lure in others. Wait, is that the actual logic?

When it comes to the spell casting, this Rhapsody pair has a distinctive spin for it. Instead of the pesky magic points we’re familiar with, I must spend the dinero I’ve earned after killing my foes. It’s a methodology I’ve rarely seen, and it aids this series in muscling through an already overcrowded genre. Obviously, an inflated price tag is indicative of lethality, but a higher cost also means it’s likely to target multiple monsters. Not only was it a refreshing departure from the norm back then, but even in the current era, very few titles actually implement this idea. Moreover, it serves as justification for how regular battles can be, but then again, that may not change minds on the monotony – it’ll probably still annoy a few who dislike the grind. 

As for me, well, I’m smitten by it. It becomes this balancing act between using abilities and buying a new accessory. I’ve got to ensure the metaphorical scales are stable, and I can always afford whatever I need. What’s great is that, due to how gosh darn effortless it is to accumulate, it never turns into a problem. In fact, I don’t even have to stress over healing items because any technique with that same effect isn’t only a suitable substitute, but it’s substantially cheaper, and likely better. With that said, it’s crucial you always have the means to replenish life, regardless of how, because not having it can, and does, result in untimely death. Thankfully, if you’re forgetful, the save feature is available wherever you may be.

Alright, here’s the deal: skills won’t be taught to characters as they level. In actuality, it’s tied to puppets that I can recruit. Think of it like Pokémon, but unlike it, Lady Luck determines when the creature I just murdered will join. It’s entirely RNG-based, which isn’t optimal since if you’re attempting to collect a full set, it may last about half an hour or perhaps a handful of minutes. The increased frequency of the encounters certainly is beneficial, and honestly, the ones I’d get are more than sufficient, and as a dude who’s normally a completionist, I didn’t care to do so. Ergo, it’s circumstantial if this becomes a gripe, but I wanted to mention it all the same, just in case. A particular item will bolster the odds of a successful catch, too.

Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles singing a song in the moonlight

No funny quip. I just thought it was a nice visual.

Suppose you’re anticipating sidequests; best to dissipate those hopes. Now, while mini-puppet ones do exist, I’m referring to those that have a tiny sub-plot of their own. The main story thread is typically what I am unraveling during my playthrough. What proves to be a hindrance, however, is that Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles doesn’t do a good job communicating the next steps I’ll be taking. There were a couple of instances where it seemed like I was expected to know where I had to be to unlock the following area. I want to preface this with the possibility that my disability could have a part in that. Subtlety isn’t my strong suit, and there might have been a hint I glossed over. If that is the truth, then clarity is called into question, as well as accessibility.

Okay, allow me to dissuade the flames of worry and say that I did have moments where I’d be unable to play due to life. One time lasted about two days, and as I’ve said before, my memory is that of a goldfish. With that said, it isn’t odd then that when returning I’m a deer in the headlights and at a loss as to what my objective is. Thankfully, Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is a lifesaver with journal entries referencing what I’m tasked with doing. I had no issues jumping back in again thanks to this facet – it’s a godsend. I’m confident that without it, I’d be aimlessly meandering about, hoping to stumble upon the path forward for lord knows how long – that would be a one-way ticket to moving on.

When it concerns graphical fidelity, it’s a mixture of keeping the spirit of the original while amping up the pixel count to create a smoother aesthetic. Sadly, there were still times where graininess was evident. That doesn’t take from the detail in the environments, though. I liked how, in homes or shops, tiny trinkets are well designed to depict what was what clearly. I must also spotlight the crisp character animations and how silky they appear. Above all, those portraits accompanying dialogue boxes are quite expressive and delightful. They’re an immense asset in accurately illustrating the emotion behind a blurb. I was ecstatic during my session, mainly due to how nostalgic it felt.


It’s a cute aesthetic, I can’t even front.

Several reviews I’ve written for NIS America have a common complaint between them – the music is oftentimes soaked in Disgaea influence, seemingly afraid to step out of that franchise’s shadow. Well, I can’t say that today because Rhapsody, as a whole, is older. See, I was fully prepared to lambast this duo because of tracks that sound as if they were stripped directly out of the Disgaea series. In that case, it should come as no real shocker that the score is whimsical. It perfectly compliments not only the absurdity I found while I played, but also the general setting – it’s catchy, too. 

The trouble begins brewing when discussing voice acting. The dub isn’t terrible, with the delivery and cadence easily being the best parts. Sadly, the audio aspect isn’t consistent, and there are spans of silence. I didn’t mind it since I grew up when voices were still a newer inclusion. JRPGs had sections that would be strictly text-based before suddenly being overlaid with speaking. Effort was put into this localization, which makes it puzzling that the singing portions received no love. We get captions for the lyrics, but that’s it. Yeah, it’s not awful, but when there are points of pure Japanese with zero translation, I lose context, leaving me to wonder if I’m missing out.

Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is a product of the late 90s, and it shows. Sure, it’s painfully easy, but man, if it isn’t super fun and quirky. It’s like comfort food, something I can play and immediately have the expectation that, yeah, I’m in for a delightful romp. I had an exceptional journey, with banter out the arse. It’s something I can sit back and relax while I giggle at the antics of these characters or the stupid puns that are so bad, they’re glorious. What I adore most is how the uncomplicated gameplay means it’s perfect for newcomers to the JRPG genre. I wasn’t stressed, I never felt overwhelmed, and I was gleeful. The score is happiness in the form of musical notes. All in all, I suggest purchasing this package, but at a discount.


Graphics: 7.0

Not the peak of graphics, and the pixelation could have been smoothed out, but it provides a nice retro look. The portraits are damn good and very expressive, too, helping the mediocrity reach slightly above average. 

Gameplay: 7.0

There isn’t a huge amount of activities in the games, but what it does, it does well. I can’t fault Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles for that. This is a product of its time and it shows, but as a kid from that era, that’s all I really needed.

Sound: 8.0

Music is great and because it predates Disgaea; the tracks directly lifted from there actually originated here. The voices were a happy surprise and made me wish it was more prominent. Finally, the lack of localized singing was weird.

Fun Factor: 8.0

I probably had way more fun than the typical person will. Everything just hit the right spots. I enjoyed how easy it was and how it’s a bit brainless. I could enjoy the ride and watch the antics of a Princess looking for love. 

Final Verdict: 7.5

Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, and PS5.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles was provided by the publisher.