By Video_Game_King 34 Comments
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
(Didn't I do this already?) I remember now: long ago, when I was but a naive fool, I covered Mary Kate, Ashley, and My Little Ponies. And now, here I am again, playing a game that is perhaps just as girly as Tra La La. There is, however, one key difference here: I didn't know that this game would be this girly. Yea, the title indicates some obvious musical themes, but that ha-Wait, there are actually two differences: the first one, and the fact that this is a legitimately good game. None of that irony here.
Hell, there's even a decent story...sort of. We find ourselves in a world where one person can talk to puppets and command them to do her bidding, something that isn't explained until the last ten minutes. Her name is Cornet, and of course, we play as her throughout the whole game. Doing what, exactly? At first, it's trying to win the heart of a prince (did I mention how girly this game is?), but before the poor schmuck can get any real characterization, he's turned to stone. Now it's up to you to find the five whatever stones and who gives a shit? That's really all the plot you get, and it's not particularly good. So why did I call it a good story? The personality, for one. It's not really afraid to poke fun at itself for a good laugh every now and then. For instance, early in the game, Obligatory Assistance Fairy Kururu advises Cornet to dress up like a furry if she wants to win her Prince's heart. The funny part? IT TOTALLY FUCKING WORKS. Now imagine a game where that's happening every five minutes. OK, that sounds overwhelming, but trust me: it's damn cool. Throw in some idiotic characters (just...this), some memorable moments, and expressive enough artwork, and I'm more than willing to overlook the fact that this is Wand of Gamelon: The Musical.
Oh, right: I've demonstrated how this is an adventure, but what about the musical part? (I feel this will also cover the Rhapsody part, and I've certainly addressed the "a".) It's....pretty bad. Don't get me wrong; I love the idea of a video game musical, and I wish that more games did it than this and PaRappa the Rapper. However, I also wish that there were more games that did it well. Why does this game fall so flat (and does that count as a pun)? First, the songs are only relevant to the plot, like, half the time. The rest of the time, they just come out of nowhere. Like here, where a mountain man decides to sing about being a mountain man (in three voices at once, somehow) because...it's been 45 minutes since the last song, I guess.
Complaint number two: a lot of the songs aren't really that good. OK, I guess if you get a boner watching Sleeping Beauty, there might be somet-I can't finish that sentence with a straight face, and it's not because of the first part. It's more because the songs aren't really that good. They're the most saccharine things you'll ever encounter, and most of the rhyme schemes read like the first entry in a rhyming dictionary. Just look at this. This is the first lyric to the first song you hear in the game. THAT IS HOW IT DECIDES TO INTRODUCE ITSELF. Although that does remind me that not all the songs in the game are bad. For example, immediately following that song is one that adds some depth to a character who would otherwise be a total bitch. (it doesn't help that she is a total bitch.) Then there's this song, which is actually pretty touching and something I might actually listen to outside the context of this game. Or at least I would if the song didn't cut off at the end.
Damn it. This is going downhill fast. I have to think of something I liked about this game.....Gameplay! Four paragraphs in seems like a good enough time to mention it. It's an isometric strategy RPG with more emphasis on the RPG part than the strategy, and with light isometry pepperings throughout. Here's how it works: you get in a random encounter, move your characters into place, and whack enemies until they die. Also, deadly pancakes. I'd comment on how little strategy this system offers, but let's put that off for a bit, because I want to compliment the game for a change. Namely, the battle system is fun enough and it has party members pouring from every orifice. True, you can blast through the game with a single party, but there's enough variation in abilities to experiment around every once in a while.
Too bad there's not much motivation to do so, what with the game being as easy as it is. Now here's the strange thing: the game sort of understands how difficulty is supposed to work. The enemies do take longer to beat with each encounter, so it seems like there's a difficulty curve to be found here. The problem is that you're always ahead of it. I think this screenshot explains it well enough. But let's assume that, for whatever reason, that isn't true. Maybe you're using underleveled puppets. In this case, the game's still incredibly easy. Will the enemies attack the weak puppets, which would be a good idea? Hell no! They're gonna go after Cornet, transforming her from mere support role to an unstoppable death machine. Then the game ends, because it takes longer to sleep than it does to finish this game. But like sleeping, it's a perfectly acceptable waste of time, even if it is filled with too many songs, bouncing boobs, and frogs in assless chaps. What? Your dreams aren't like that? Weirdo.
- All I have to tell you is that Nippon Ichi made a Disney movie. That will give you the perfect idea of what the story is like.
- As for the actual game, imagine the original Dragon Warrior Monsters with the combat of Tactics Ogre.
- And a level of difficulty that makes it perfect for little girls. However, I need girlier games, though. GIRLIER GAMES!!!
Hey, you know what else is Japanese and tailor made for girls? Probably not this:
Mary-Kate & Ashley: Girl's Night Out Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
(Let it be known that I tried to get through another Mary Kate & Ashley game.) I really did, but the game got fed up with me before I got fed up with it (IE it froze on me after level 11). So now I come to you with the gaming equivalent of sloppy seconds: Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses. Now I'm not calling the game bad; I'm simply calling it boring, nondescript and blasé.
Much like the paragraph where I describe the game's set-up. Can you blame me, though? It's a Barbie game. If you're expecting this game to set your world view ablaze, then you probably don't understand any of the words in front of you. Unwanted fuck up. Anyway, the story: king has twelve daughters (and mother presumably dies from her stomach bursting open like that scene in Alien), is pissed that they're not feminine enough, hires his sister to make them girlier, middle middle middle, she kidnaps eleven of the kids and plans to poison the king. Now it's up to Barbie (except she's not Barbie, but still is Barbie, I guess) to rescue her sisters from...what are they in danger of? I mean, whenever you find them, they're just standing there, clearly safe from the nothing that so sorely wants them dead. Or girly. I forget, mainly because the plot isn't exactly memorable or necessary in the first place.
Neither is the actual game, but at least it's competent. The graphics are technically good, and there's nothing outright offensive about the gameplay. (Put that on the back of the box.) It's a simple platformer where you jump through levels and...no, that's pretty much it. I know that sounds really boring, and while it is soul crushingly mundane, it's the power-ups that save this game from being outright awful. Not counting your monkey murdering pussy, rescuing your sisters nets you some magical shoes that summon things like stilts, deadly butterfly nets, not-deadly croquet mallets, and so much more. I know it makes absolutely no sense, but does it have to? It's fun enough to kill ants by whacking them with your net, and everything else can be put to good use. (Can.) Hell, it even puts them all to really cool use in the final level, where you have to solve alternate dimension mirror puzzles or some shit.
And that's it. There's really nothing else to the game. It never really puts any of those power-ups to interesting use. In fact, it doesn't put a lot of them to use at all; you're mostly going to use the magical stilts and the magical incline generator, and I think I can only remember two times I ever used the croquet mallet. That's not enough to carry a game like this, and believe me: it neeeeeds it. I mean, what else is going to carry it? The levels? Fat chance. There's never really a sense of purpose or direction in any of the levels, making them feel like a chore rather than a fun excursion. Just jump through, head in random directions, and repeat for a few levels that look exactly like the one you just finished. Throw in some unexciting graphics and music that eats a high fiber diet specifically so it will never have any shits to give, and you can see why I'm none too pleased that I didn't get to cover that Mary Kate & Ashley game. Even if this game is by far the better one.
- Yep, that's a Barbie.
- The underlying mechanics are good enough...
- ...but the game surrounding it is severely lacking.