Nippon Ichi Software continues the trend of classic RPG rereleases with yet another excellent choice of titles. For Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3, the company is bringing back La Pucelle: Ragnarok and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. While they may not be as recognizable to the general public as Disgaea, these games were vital steps in these SRPG developers’ growth.
Firstly, we have La Pucelle: Ragnarok, an improved version of the PS2 game that NISA sadly left behind in its PSP release, to the dismay of many NIS fans. On the other, we have Rhapsody, one of NIS’s earliest titles, that offered a unique take on RPGs in a girls-oriented musical fairy tale for the PS1.
La Pucelle: Ragnarok tells the story of a girl called Prier and her brother Culotte. After their parents passed away, they joined an orphanage and became members of La Pucelle, a demon-hunting organization of the Church of the Holy Maiden. Players will have to guide them and their friends through various missions.
In town, players can talk with NPCs in a sidescroller format. Outside, there are dungeons to explore with multiple consecutive maps. Moving straight to the next area will now allow recharging the units’ HP and MP, so it’s best to return to the World Map whenever possible. There may be multiple directions sometimes, and players can replay cleared areas if they want.
Battles take form in a tactical style with square grids. Unlike Disgaea and a variety of other NIS RPGs after it, the game has no lifting and throwing mechanic. However, that doesn’t mean moving through the stage is slow, as La Pucelle includes a unique take on the holy elements of its narrative: the Dark Portals and the purification system.
Each area has various portals to the Dark World and from them flows energy that powers up enemies and weakens your characters. This force moves in specific directions, and allies or enemies can redirect it by standing in its trajectory. The energies can also combine to create a new color.
By purifying these portals, players can eliminate these energy sources. Then, characters can level up their equipped items and regain their turn action as if they hadn’t done anything yet. Even better, any ally in the range of the dark wave will also have another chance to act, and you may even summon a special attack. A well-spent turn can have the same characters moving and attacking multiple times as they go from one dark portal to another on the map.
The player can move to the next chapter when beating all the areas in the current dungeon and its final boss. The format is similar to an episodic series, with each “episode” having multiple endings. By exploring more, the player will have more information and a better solution to the conflict, leading to superior rewards when the chapter closes.
Compared to the original PS2 game, this edition includes more story beats and extra characters such as Cornet from Rhapsody, Hero Prinny from Prinny 1-2: Exploded and Reloaded, and Rozalin from Disgaea 2. These new additions are significant, and any fan of the game should give Ragnarok a try.
Meanwhile, Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure tells the story of a young girl called Cornet. After her parents died, she started living with her grandfather puppet maker, in a small town called Orange. Cornet started talking with puppets when she was young, becoming friends. Instead of inorganic creatures, each puppet has a soul and will go to heaven after fulfilling its mission.
While she makes more and more friends during the journey, she has a specific goal: to meet her prince. As such, it all starts as a simple story of a star-struck girl hoping to one day engage with the prince of Marl Kingdom. However, a witch and her lackeys start roaming around, so she’ll have to be strong, gather allies, and make an effort for her one true love.
Rhapsody is a turn-based RPG with a tactical format for battles. As the player moves around the compact areas, they’ll randomly enter combat that happens to use a square grid. The battles take place in a simple arena, hardly exploring the unique possibilities usually associated with tactics. Combine that with low difficulty, and the game is a no-stress choice that will hardly satiate any fan of the genre.
Nonetheless, what it doesn’t offer in the realms of challenge, it more than makes up for it thanks to its charming atmosphere. Heavily inspired by shoujo manga, fairy tales, and female-targeted musicals, Rhapsody is a whimsical adventure about love that’s still unique and a barely explored area for RPGs, especially for those with a strategical nature. It had various sequels released in Japan, but unfortunately, none of them came over.
The songs include both an English and a Japanese version, allowing players to enjoy the original track or the Atlus editions. Both sides have charming points, as the Japanese voices sound less artificial, while the English version is akin to a Disney fairy tale with some off-tone cases. As someone who had already played the PS1 game, I’m fond of the latter as I feel Atlus, the publisher back in the day, made a good choice.
While I feel both games are enjoyable pieces of NIS history, the package is on the bland side as far as remastered editions go. For example, Rhapsody offers two filter options (CRT and Smooth) and the option to deactivate both, but La Pucelle doesn’t even have those. Still, it feels crispy and good to look at, unlike Vol.1’s Soul Nomad. In essence, both games of Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol.3 are passable, but the lack of considerable gameplay improvements and options to make them feel like a distinctly new release is still a little underwhelming.
If you are fond of strategic RPGs and want to see a unique take on the genre, La Pucelle: Ragnarok is a solid experience. Meanwhile, Rhapsody doesn’t offer much challenge or mechanic refinement but makes up for it with so much charisma and lightheartedness that it’s an entertaining shoujo RPG. Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 gives them another chance, but keep your expectations in check: like the previous ones, these are basic remasters.
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