Interview with Nippon Ichi America about Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (Nintendo DS)


Rhapsody is one of those JRPG’s I can’t help but adore. It’s got SRPG gameplay, yet it’s only ten hours long, ensuring a quick playthrough. It’s got very cute and original story and I’ve repeatedly used Rhapsody as “Baby’s First SRPG” for a lot of my friends, both male and female. From the “So bad it’s good” songs to the myriad of controllable characters and side stories, Rhapsody made it into my Top 30 RPG’s of all time countdown four years ago.

A few months ago, Nippon Ichi America revealed that they would be porting Rhapsody to the Nintendo DS. Considering the original PSX version goes for over $50 used, I thought this was a great deal, especially as this gave me hope that the other Marl’s Kingdom titles might come to America. With a list of questions in tow, I sat down with Nippon Ichi America to find out more about the upcoming re-release of Rhapsody

DHGF: Rhapsody was originally brought over to the US by Atlus in March of 2000. What made you decided to re-release it and bring it to the DS?

NIS: Aside from the Disgaea series, Rhapsody was actually our fan’s 2nd pick for a port. We have already decided to bring Disgaea to the DS, so we figured we should just bring Rhapsody over to the DS as will.

DHGF: I know a Rhapsody character or two have shown up in other Nippon Ichi games (Such as La Pucelle taking place in the same world as Rhapsody & featuring Cornet’s grandson or the Rosenqueen references in the Disgaea titles) but there are two other titles in the “Puppet Princess” or “Marl’s Kingdom” series. Both “Little Princess” and “Angel’s Present” were quiet popular in Japan, with “Little Princess” now being available for the PSP and PS3 through Japan’s Playstation store. Are there any plans to localize and release either of these stateside?

NIS: We aren’t 100% sure yet, but as long as our dev team in Japan works on a new port, we will try to release here in the states. In such case we would assume that it will be released on the DS.

DHGF: Will the DS version of Rhapsody feature the same voice actors, musical numbers, and scripts as the PSX version, or will the game feature an entirely new translation?

NIS: The game will essentially be the same as the PSX version. There will be new additional pieces of dialogue implemented and text bugs corrected, but you can expect the same experience as the original.

DHGF: Rhapsody is an interesting mix of random battles, which are normally seen in turn-based RPG’s, and tactical combat, which is the corner stone of SRPG’s. Where did the inspiration to mix the two genres come from?

NIS: Not many people know this, but Rhapsody was a game that would either make or break NIS. Therefore, the dev guys wanted to go all out and make a game that they wanted to, and came up with this bizarre idea of combining RPG with strategy. Luckily the game was a success and we still exist here today.

DHGF: Considering that Rhapsody is a musical game with lots of singing, was it difficult going from a CD/DVD medium to a cart based game and still maintain the auditory quality of the game?

NIS: Yes, it was extremely difficult and we are sad to say that we couldn’t incorporate our standard dual voice option. We’ll try to make up for this by possibly offering a soundtrack CD or something of that nature.

DHGF: One of the more memorable things about Rhapsody is that there really aren’t any evil characters per say. Cornet gets a first hand lesson about the grey realities of life repeatedly through the game, and Etoile and Majorly are definitely Cornet’s nemesis, but they’re far from evil. How do you think that impacts the average RPG gamer who is used to the routine good vs. evil storyline?

NIS: Rhapsody is definitely not the normal RPG that many gamers are used to. Some might not like it, but we believe it’s got its own charm. The heartwarming and mellow story is a rare gem in today’s pool of violent games.

DHGF: Currently NIS America is best known for its exceptionally long and complex SRPG’s. Rhapsody however, is one of the shortest RPG’s out there, clocking in at about ten hours. Do you think the ease and briefness of the game will induce a bit of culture shock to NIS fans used to 100 hour games and characters that go over Level 100, or do you think with the DS being so popular with casual gamers, that Rhapsody will act as a “gateway drug” of sorts to not just SRPG’s but Nippon Ichi games in general?

NIS: You have mentioned exactly what we’re trying to aim for with Rhapsody. Since this game is fairly short compared to our SRPG lineups, it gears towards to a more casual audience. We’re hoping that gamers who aren’t as hardcore as our Disgaea fans would pick up Rhapsody and find that we do in fact make non-hardcore games as will. That’s not to say that we won’t be focusing on our SRPG’s, since our main focus will always be towards hardcore titles.

The original release of Rhapsody came with a CD Soundtrack. Will the DS version do the same?

NISL We’re exploring the possibility of a soundtrack right now, but we’re not exactly sure in what format we will be offering it in. We’ll keep everybody posted, so please look forward to them. (Alex’s note: In fact, that’s what they ARE doing if you pre-order the game from Rosenqueen. Click here to see the pre-order offer!)

DHGF: One of my favorite moments in the original Rhapsody was opening my mailbox one day and encountering Todd McFarlane’s Spawn who then joined my team. Will he be making a return appearance in this game?

NIS: Don’t want to spoil the game, so I can’t say, but please look forward to the hidden appearances.

DHGF: Final question. Considering NIS America has brought over Ar Tonelico, Atelier Iris, Disgaea, Mana Khemia & Spectral Souls to American soil…are there any plans to localize and realize X (Cross) Edge in the US? Please say yes, as I have a hankering for some Disagea meets Darkstalkers goodness!

NIS: Many of our fans have been asking the same question. All I can say for now is keep an open eye for our upcoming press releases this year. You won’t be disappointed.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that last bit sounds to me like there’s a good chance X Edge will be coming to US shores, flying in the face of every skeptical gaming journalist out there. Either way. I’ll be covering the Japanese version once it is released in late September.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure hits US shores on September 23rd, 2008, the same day the DS port of Disgaea is released as well. To learn more about Rhapsody, go check NIS’s official site for the game and see why the original is one of my favorite RPG’s of all time. Now go pre-order this thing before the copies of the soundtrack run out!

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