Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles from NIS America brings us two previously Japan-only entries in the beloved series in a single collection. Check our Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles review!
Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles from NIS America brings us two previously Japan-only entries in the beloved series in a single collection. The first game in this series – that would be Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure – was available on Nintendo Switch as part of the Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 3, which was released near the end of 2022, and which I got a chance to review on Nintendo’s console. Thanks to Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles, now all three games in the series are available in a single current-gen console!
Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles includes Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess, which was released way back in 1999 on the original PlayStation console, as well as its sequel Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom, which launched on the PlayStation 2 right before the year 2000 was over. Up until this brand new Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles, both games had remained Japan-exclusive, so if you’re a fan of Rhapsody, you’re certainly in for a treat! Oh, and do know that every now and then, characters will break into song because music is very much part of the whole experience.
Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess tells the story of Kururu, who just happens to be the daughter of Cornet Espoir, the main protagonist from Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, and her Prince. She’s named after Cornet’s friend Kururu, the special puppet you get to meet in the first game whom Cornet can talk to. Cornet falls in love with Marl’s Prince Ferdinand, who saves her at the start of her adventure. Unfortunately, the Prince was cursed by the evil witch Marjoly and turned into stone! Cornet had to defeat Marjorly to break the curse and live happily ever after.
It’s now been 12 years since Kururu was born, which means it’s the perfect time for her to go on an adventure all of her own! Since she’s the daughter of the now Queen Cornet and of King Ferdinand, that means Kururu is a Princess, so let’s do things right and call her Princess Kururu from now on. As was the case for her mother, Princess Kururu decides it’s time for her to find her Prince charming and plan their future together. She’s joined by her friend Crea Rosenqueen, and they go on a journey through the kingdom.
Just as it happened to her mother, early in the game, Princess Kururu and Crea are saved from a mighty dragon by someone. His name is Cello, but Princess Kururu doesn’t really like him! Will Cello end up on her? He does show up many times during her adventure, so who knows what will happen! Their paths will cross since Cello is looking for the shards of the Shadow of Beauty, a magical gem that can grant wishes. Cello needs to find all the pieces so that he can use the Shadow of Beauty to heal his mother, who is ill.
Since this is a JRPG, that means you’ll be taking on many battles during your time with Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess. Battles are different from what you experienced in Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. While in the first game, Cornet was joined in battle by puppets, this time around, puppets will be equipped to human characters in your party to allow them to cast spells. Do know that there are no magic points in Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess, and you’ll instead be spending a bit of Inotium, which acts as the game’s currency. As you use puppets as partners in battle, they will also gain experience points. Just as human characters will level up once they obtain enough experience points, the same is true of puppets. Once a puppet levels up, it will get to learn new spells and abilities that can be put to good use in subsequent battles.
If you want to make puppets even stronger, you can equip them with Jewels. Jewels can increase attack, spell power, and even give access to a very powerful spell. As you use puppets, they will fill up the gauge with musical notes. As said gauge fills up, you’ll be able to use Rewards. Rewards vary, and the more musical notes you have, the more powerful a Reward will be. When in battle, you’ll also be able to use Special Attacks that can prove to be very effective. Do know that using a Special Attack will consume some HP, so you’ll need to be careful not to overdo things!
Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess includes a bonus section known as Kururu’s Diary. As Kururu’s journey progresses, she’ll start to update her diary with new entries. There are 173 entries in total, and some of them are of the missable variety. That means that if you want to 100% Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess, you’ll need to pay attention and work hard! There are some entries for recruiting puppets to your cause, and since those are missable, that means their potential entries in Kururu’s Diary are also missable. Will you be able to see everything the game has to offer?
And then there’s Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom. This one tells the story of a young girl who was able to become friends with puppets. Her name was Cornet, and she dreamed of falling in love with a Prince. Unfortunately, when Cornet is saved by Prince Ferdinand, the evil Witch Marjoly turns him to stone. So before Cornet can be with her one true love, she must first break the… wait a minute! Isn’t that the plot for Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure? That’s indeed the premise for that very fun JRPG! That’s why the third game in the series has “Memories of Mark Kingdom” right there in its title.
You see, Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom is a JRPG that is split into six different chapters, with each one focusing on a different character from the Rhapsody series. This is why the game gets things going by going back to Cornet’s adventure to break Marjoly’s spell so that she can rescue Prince Ferdinand. The first chapter sees Cornet, her puppet friend Kururu – not to be confused with Cornet’s daughter Princess Kururu, which you’ll get to play as during the second chapter in the game – as well as Etoile Rosenqueen end up lost in the forest. Except that, you know, Etoile Rosenqueen is never going to admit she’s lost, which is why she calls this whole thing “a grand journey of adventure.”
Etoile had found a young girl named Ellie who seemed to be lost in the forest and was trying to take her back to her home when she herself got… on a detour of sorts. Ellie lives in a village with a huge mushroom, so off you go to try and find a way to get her back to her loved ones before they start to worry too much! Once you reach Elinger Valley, where only Ellinger live, you’ll learn that Ellie is actually an Elinger who was disguised as a young girl!
The second chapter in the game will have you joining Princess Kururu on a new adventure during events that take place four years after Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess. Princess Kururu is now sixteen, and she wants to convince King Ferdinand that she should be allowed to marry Cello – you know, Cello, who you might remember as Princess Kururu’s love interest who is not that nice to her when they first meet at the start of the second game. What lies ahead in the remaining four chapters? You’ll have to try the game for yourself to find out!
As you play through each of the chapters in Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom, you’ll take on turn-based battles that feel similar to those in Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess. Your party members will be on the right side of the screen, and you’ll be able to select from attacking, defending, using specials that require you to spend some SP, using items to aid you in combat, commanding a puppet that is behind a leader – and no, you can’t command monsters – or use a Reward if enough notes are available on the chart at the bottom left corner of the screen. There’s also the option of selecting Auto from the battle menu to have all characters act on their own, either with the Conserve modifier so that they use normal attacks or the All-Out modifier, which has characters use their most powerful skills and abilities for each round.
You’ll have four rows of characters for your party. Characters that can act as leaders will go at the front of each row. The other characters who act as partners will stand behind them on each row as you “equip them.” Partners will act on their own and will support their leader in battle. You’ll get a taste of this early on when you find Sharte, a puppet that had gone missing. Add her behind Cornet, and she’ll be able to attack and use abilities in combat. On top of this, Cornet will also receive a boost to her max HP, max SP, intelligence, and speed stats!
You can customize your experience with Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess and Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom by going into the Options menu. Along with adjusting the button configuration, activating or deactivating controller vibration, managing the volume for BGM and SFX, voice volume, and voice language – between English and Japanese – you can also change how each game looks. For Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Princess, that means keeping things as is, adding a CRT filter, or a smooth filter. For Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom, you can take advantage of enhanced textures for the game’s graphics, which are presented with 2D sprites over 3D backgrounds. This makes all sprites sharper and all textures more vibrant.
I had a lot of fun diving back into Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure in the Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 3 collection, so being able to check out the other two games in the series that, up until now, had remained as Japan-only releases. Along with getting both games in a single package, there are also some quality-of-life improvements here and there, such as being able to add filters to how things look or even taking advantage of enhanced textures for the third game in the series. Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles is out on Nintendo Switch with a $49.99 price tag, offering dozens of hours of JRPG fun.
This Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by NIS America.