Rhapsody - A Musical Adventure
Atlus Software, 2000
Rhapsody is a tactical RPG with an emphasis on music, puppets and romance. :-)
You play Cornet, a horn-playing girl who lives in a small town. She has the unusual talent of being able to talk to dolls. Shortly after the adventure begins, she meets the prince of the nearby castle... and falls head over heels for him. ... Yeah, so I like sappy romantic stuff sometimes... so sue me.
Of course, as in all RPGs, something goes terribly wrong (I will not go into detail to avoid spoilers), and it's up to the protagonist to set things right. So Cornet, who is not a warrior or wizard, will have to do a lot of battling. Fortunately, she can use her horn to recruit puppets to help her out. She is not harmless or useless in battle, though; she can use her horn to power up other party members, and by doing so gains points which enables her to cast some pretty powerful spells.
There are other reasons why this game is called "A Musical Adventure", by the way... it's part musical. Regularly, a character will break out in song. ^_^' While you might want to reach for the mute button, it's best not to skip these songs as they might hold important clues about what to do next, and about the backstory in general.
The game reminds me of Disgaea, and although it's nowhere near as complex, there are many similarities. For example, the way you move your characters in battle; the tiles you can move to (or attack) are highlighted. Spells are selected from a drop-down menu.
Although the game looks like its target audience is young girls, there is more to it than meets the eye, which makes it interesting and fun for all ages and genders. I like the story, and there are quite a few funny moments -- including some humor here and there which is probably *not* meant for pre-teens at all.
Oh, and the game is rare, which makes it pretty hard to get these days, unfortunately (look on eBay or half.com or your favorite used games store). I paid $50 for it... it can probably be had cheaper online (taking into account shipping costs and the increased risk). Still, I think it was well worth it.
A fun game, playable by children and adults alike. Not too long, not too difficult. In spite of its flaws, a fun experience. 8/10.