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Video Game / Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

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Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, known in Japan as Marl Oukoku no Ningyou-hime (The Puppet Princess of Marl Kingdom), is a game developed by Nippon Ichi for the PlayStation in 1998. It was later remade for the Nintendo DS in 2008, and later again as part of the Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 Compilation Rerelease alongside La Pucelle: Ragnarok for the Nintendo Switch and PC in 2022. It is the first game by the company to be released in the United States, and one of the first games to be developed before the company's love of insane Power Levels.

The story is set in the aforementioned Marl Kingdom, and stars a young girl named Cornet, who possesses the ability to talk to puppets and dolls. She has a big-time crush on Prince Ferdinand, who rescued her from an evil Cat Girl. However, just as she nearly succeeds in winning the prince's heart, the witch Marjoly attacks the castle and turns the prince to stone, and then kidnaps him. Determined to win her beloved Prince Ferdinand back, Cornet sets out on a magical and musical adventure all over Marl Kingdom with her Fairy Companion Kururu and an assortment of other puppets.

Rhapsody appeals to a different demographic than most RPGs. On the surface it seems aimed at young girls, but it has become a Cult Classic, mostly due to Moe appeal. Besides, the tunes are catchy!

The game would eventually receive two sequels. The first one, Rhapsody II: Ballad of the Little Prince, was also released on the Playstation and follows the adventures of Cornet's daughter. The second sequel, Rhapsody III: Memories of Marl Kingdom, was released on the Playstation 2, and is a Vignette Episode adventure, telling additional stories that focus on Cornet, her daughter, and various other characters in the Marl Kingdom, taking place within the time frame of both games as well as Marl Kingdom's past and future. The sequels didn't receive an international release until 2023 in the form of Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles, a Compilation Rerelease for the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5, and PC. These games laid the groundwork for La Pucelle and, eventually, the Disgaea series.

Additionally, it gained a Spiritual Successor in the form of the Japan-only Princess Antiphona’s Hymn: Angel’s Score Op. A which includes a Marl Kingdom prince and Marjoly.

Not to be confused with the 2000 OAV anime Karakuri no Kimi (Puppet Princess).

Has a Character Sheet with characters from the whole series.

Rhapsody uses the following tropes:

  • Anachronism Stew: Medieval Fantasy setting, but with guns, J-Pop, and BBQ.
  • Attract Mode: Waiting 45 seconds on the title screen shows an Expository Theme Tune where Cornet introduces herself, her skill as a puppeteer, and Kururu teasing her dreams of finding a prince.
  • Babies Ever After: The sequel stars Cornet's daughter. You eventually get to meet one of their descendants in your party in La Pucelle.
  • Become a Real Boy: If Cornet helps the puppets she recruits, they will gain a soul and ascend to Heaven to be (re?)incarnated. Fortunately, they leave the puppet behind so you can keep using it.
  • Big Eater: Gao, implied.
  • Blade on a Stick: Kid, the youngest of the three Egg Brother puppets, wields one.
  • Bland-Name Product: One tailor named Kalvin Cline.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: You can find an unwrapped copy of the game guide on a bookshelf.
    Cornet: Hey, you! Yeah, you with the controller! Did you make me mess up?
  • Bullying a Dragon: After Marjoly turns Ferdinand to stone, Cornet provokes her by calling her an "old maid," even getting everyone in the room (including Majorlay's Quirky Mini Boss Squad) to join in. Marjoly is pissed at this and sics her Quirky Mini Boss Squad on Cornet, leading to the below-mentioned Hopeless Boss Fight. Turns out mocking the Big Bad, even one who her own followers mock at every possible opportunity, is a bad idea.
  • But Thou Must!: Many times.
  • Cat Girl: Myao.
  • Continuity Nod: Hornard, one of the main characters of La Pucelle, turns out to be Cornet's grandson.
    • The main character of the sequel, Little Princess, is Cornet's daughter, named Kurusale. She just happens to be the resurrected soul of Kururu, who just happens to be the resurrected soul of her mother...
    • Cornet's rival Etoile is just a stereotypical rich girl in the first game. In the second game, she gains a particularly memorable leitmotif... since her family name is RosenQueen, meaning her family effectively runs every single store in Nippon Ichi's games since La Pucelle!
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Exaggerated. There are only two types of dungeons areas in the game: caves and square rooms. When the (literally) god-forsaken ''netherworld" looks like every castle/tower you've roamed through throughout the game, something is clearly wrong.
  • Crutch Character: Kururu (Promoted to Playable in the DS remake) is very strong, but disappears during the very last chapter.
  • Cute Kitten: The Nyanko.
  • Distressed Dude: Prince Ferdinand spends most of the game Taken for Granite, with your quest focused on rescuing him.
  • Easier Than Easy: It actually has several difficulty levels, but they are all this, at least in the PS1 game in America.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Regular battles are pretty easy, especially if you use powerful magic. The bosses, however, are designed with this in mind and are harder.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Sort of. X-elemental magic will do extra damage to a character with a Y-elemental attribute, but reversing X and Y will yield the same result.
    • It goes: Fire <—> Water, Wind <—> Earth, Holy <—> Dark. Neutral (obviously) and Thunder-based characters are exempt from having any weaknesses.
  • Evil Chancellor: Golonzo, played almost to the point of parody. Random NPCs in town comment on how obviously evil he is before you've even met him.
  • Fairy Companion: Kururu.
  • Fiction 500: The Rosenqueen family, which has a company so widespread, it crosses planets and dimensions. Nippon Ichi's store was named after them for a time.
  • Forgotten Superweapon: The "Ancient Weapons (as in more than one)".
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe with the people of Frogburg, who seem to think that Golonzzo is extremely handsome and not that bad a guy.
  • Good Is Dumb: Played straight with Etoile, who just plain outclasses your party during the Hopeless Boss Fight in chapter 2. During the battles in which she decides to help you out later in the game, all the dakka in the world can't save her from doing pitiful damage while your party is lashing out with heavy hits.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The stones used to get to Marjoly's castle.
  • High Collar of Doom: Marjoly wears one.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Three. The battles against Etoile in chapter 2, the Quirky Mini Boss Squad in chapter 3, and Myao and her cat minions at the end of chapter 5.
  • "I Am" Song/"I Want" Song: In every game in the Marl Kingdom series, characters frequently break into musical numbers for the flimsiest of reasons. When one of Marjoly's minions cameos in Phantom Brave, she's mystified as to why people don't spontaneously burst into song.
  • Jiggle Physics: Marjoly in her Villain Song displays this.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Ferdinand and the puppet Duke as well as the Mecha-Mooks that the latter was based on.
  • The Lad-ette: Gao. A Running Gag sees her getting mistaken for a man every single time she shows up somewhere.
  • Lampshade Hanging: All over the place.
    • The attract mode song has Kururu and Cornet sing about every single trope of the game's own genre, with Kururu effectively telling Cornet that's not how the world works.
    • In a scene at the beginning of the game, Kururu tells Cornet that if she dies, "it's game over. You'll have to watch this scene again and again."
  • Last of His Kind: Cornet, who is the last successor of the Lost Technology used to make and control the puppets… Well, until she and Ferdinand have their daughter, anyway.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Etoile. Thanks to Cornet, by the second game, she's got much better.
  • Lost Technology: Marjorly's Ominous Floating Castle, the Ancient Weapon, and the puppets.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Kururu is actually Cherie, Cornet's mother, who placed her soul in her child's favorite doll to keep watch over her after her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Magic Misfire: Happens twice to Marjoly. Once when she accidentally takes Ferdinand for granite instead of putting him to sleep so she can kidnap him, and again when she's about to finish off the Final Boss. The second time, her spell literally blows up right in her face, leaving her incapacitated and causing the defeat of the boss to be up to you.
  • Magic Music: Cornet's magic has powerful effects both in-battle and out.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Heartstones required to cure Ferdinand. Or so you're told. In reality, they're the keys to the Lost Technology that will allow you to reach Marjoly's floating castle.
  • Mood Whiplash: Happens a couple times when the plot swings from lighthearted to dead serious without warning.
    • In the Frog Kingdom, the King orders Michael to help you retrieve the Earthstone in order to earn his respect. He succeeds... but the King just adds his defeating the guardian to his list of crimes and executes him on the spot, in full view of his lover. Soon afterwards, his lover, the princess, takes his body to the Ice Temple and is Driven to Suicide in order to be with him again.
  • Moving the Goalposts: The King of the Frogs' behavior is either this or full out I Lied.
  • Musical Assassin: Cornet uses a horn as a weapon to attack enemies and power-up her puppets.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In order to obtain a MacGuffin, both Cornet and a random group of villagers kill two dragons. It turns out that the dragons were the ones keeping the local volcano from erupting…
    • There's an optional Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moment during the raid on the Ninetails Tower. If Cornet chooses to kill the tower's guardian and obtain the MacGuffin it carries, she saves the life of one person… at the cost of the entire town becoming cursed and hating her guts. If you refuse to kill the guardian, Cornet will fight Gao instead, who is always after the Thunderstone. Defeating her results in you getting the Holystone instead of the Thunderstone, and also changes one of the 5 bosses at the bottom of Cape Hope.
    • Marjoly is a villainous example of this trope, as she accidentally petrifies the prince while trying to cast a charm spell on him. Later, she is Hoist by Her Own Petard while fighting the Ancient Weapon.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Etoile and Marjoly both love launching into these.
  • No Fourth Wall: If you beat the worm right heart on the 6th turn (as Etoile told you to) on the first time fighting it, Etoile will come in asking what you're doing. Cornet's reply? "Hey you! Yeah, the one with the controller in your hand! Did you make me mess up?" Etoile admits she screwed up worrying about you screwing up. But then later she gets mad at you and blames you anyways.
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: Michael.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Kururu will remind you of what to do on the menu.
  • Ojou/Rich Bitch: Etoile Rosenqueen, who adheres to Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, is a big fan of More Dakka, and also happens to be Cornet's Rival.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Kururu wields one all of the time, and Cornet will occasionally pull one of her own out whenever somebody says something particularly stupid and/or surprising.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: The King of the Frog Kingdom doesn't approve of his daughter Caroline marrying the lower-class Michael. And he ultimately executes him just to prevent it. Technically, it works, but
  • Perky Female Minion: Myao.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Two of the puppets who can join Cornet's party become unobtainable if you miss out on the sequences necessary to get them.
    • The first, an Expy of Spawn, can only be obtained if Cornet subscribes to Ferdinand's Instant Fan Club's newsletter during the early chapters.
    • The second is even easier to miss. After being sent out on your MacGuffin Fetch Quest, you must immediately return to Cornet's hometown to learn that a local boy's dog has died and then head over to its grave to have it join you as a doll. If you don't, the little boy will die as well, and his dog will be lost.
  • Physical God: Ledgem, the timid rabbit plushie, is a messenger of Fate the God of Darkness.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Etoile brags about the huge cost of one of her dresses.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: The twin dolls Sharte (Holy-elemental) and Terra (Dark-elemental).
  • The Power of Love: Ultimately used to cure Ferdinand's petrification.
  • Puzzle Boss: The heart of a giant sandworm. In the original game, Cornet had to land the killing blow on it during her sixth turn. It was toned down in the DS remake so that she had to land the killing blow before her sixth turn.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Myao, Gao, and Crowdia.

Alternative Title(s): Puppet Princess