Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 3 Review

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 3 by developer Nippon Ichi Software and publisher NIS America Inc.Nintendo Switch review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

 Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

After releasing Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, we now are getting Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3, and boy was I super excited when I heard what was in this one. The titles we get in Vol. 3 are my two favourite classic NIS titles outside the Disgaea series, so I'm excited to share this with you. In Vol. 3 we get Rhapsody: A musical Adventure and La Pucelle: Ragnarok.

Note: Please be aware that this review contains some spoilers either in the text or in the screenshots taken during gameplay.

For those of you who are familiar with either title, the Rhapsody featured is the original PS1 version, and La Pucelle is the extended / enhanced version of La Pucelle: Tactics. A review covering the PC version written by P-Y for Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure and La Pucelle: Ragnarok can also be found on our site if you're looking for a comparison between ports. If you're familiar with the titles or have read the reviews for the PC port, feel free to skip to the bottom paragraph and summary for my cliff notes on the Switch version.

For those who are unfamiliar, let's dive into these two classic titles!

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

First up, I want to talk about Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. Now, some of you may be asking "is this the DS version?", to which I would say "definitely not". The DS version had a simplified combat system, and removed the feature where you were able to recruit monsters to your party. Thankfully NIS has opted to go for the original PS1 version here, much to my delight.

Rhapsody stars a young girl named Cornet who is living with her grandfather after the death of her parents. Cornet dreams of marrying the prince of the Marl Kingdom, who the townspeople have nothing but good things to say about. Unfortunately for her, every girl within a four day trip is also interested in the prince.

Thankfully for Cornet she has something that sets her apart from the crowd: a magic horn. This horn allows her to command puppets, which she can use in battle or in general to help her out. She can also speak with puppets, even if she isn't controlling them through her horn, and is friends with a puppet named Kururu, who tends to give her (somewhat) helpful advice. Needless to say, things don't always go how you hope, and Cornet ends up setting off on an adventure in order to be with the Prince, making both friends and enemies along the way.

Rhapsody is a bit of a toned down version of the NIS SRPG fare, with an interesting take on the adventure and combat. As you explore the world, you will be roaming around maps, talking with townspeople, beating up baddies, and helping puppets fulfill their dreams so that they may be reincarnated. Exploring locales is walking around a map, often consisting of very similar looking passageways, in a 2D top-down-ish style. As you explore you can find chests with items, puppets to recruit, as well as get into random battles.

Combat in Rhapsody is well put together, with enemies and allies being on a grid based map, with the units acting in order of their speed value. These grids are significantly smaller than other NIS titles, and don't feature any of the later title's convoluted panel and stage effects. You can command your units to move and attack along the grids, use special abilities or magic, or simply end the turn in order to guard.

Cornet also participates in combat, using her treasured horn as a weapon. Since Cornet is essentially a puppet master, not only does she participate in combat normally, but she can also use the horn to increase the attack of any dolls fighting with the party as long as they are within range. Doing so also builds up a musical score which can be used for "rewards", which are attacks using desserts, or healing the party members.

Cornet also plays another special role. If Cornet defeats an enemy with her horn attack, there is a chance the enemy monster will ask to join the party, provided they aren't unique or boss type monsters. Monsters can either be used as party members or sold for cash if you're running low. While dolls are usually the better party member options, that doesn't mean the monsters aren't useful. Unfortunately, new units tend to come in at the wonderful level of 1, so they will almost always require a bit of effort to get them up to par.

Thankfully the game is rather basic in a number of functions to help accommodate this. For starters, units you have only wear accessories, no specific weapon types, and are therefore a lot easier to outfit. Also, Rhapsody is pretty easy. No, really, it isn't that challenging, even on the harder difficulty, especially if you use the combat system to its fullest potential. However, in a rare turn of events for me, I actually don't think there is anything wrong with Rhapsody being an easier title. With Rhapsody, you're there for the story, the characters, the adventure, and the music. Sure, combat may be a large part, but it's not where the focus lies.

There are many interesting companions to recruit, and they all have desires which you can fulfill, making for interesting companion quests. Additionally, the characters in Rhapsody have a habit of breaking out into song whenever they have an opportune moment. Sometimes it's a solo, sometimes a duet. Sometimes it's even the bad guy, but hey, what do you expect from a game called "Rhapsody: a Musical Adventure". In fact, I'm pretty sure a character makes a cameo in a later game and questions why nobody breaks out into song.

Rhapsody is a game full of heart, and song, and I'm really glad to see the PS1 version get an updated port.

La Pucelle: Ragnarok

Next up on the list we have La Pucelle: Ragnarok, the enhanced / extended version of La Pucelle: Tactics, which is sitting on my game shelf right next to me.

La Pucelle is around the time where NIS started thinking "let's make this system absolutely ridiculous" and decided to run away with it. La Pucelle is also, arguably, my favourite NIS SRPG. Yes, I do mean including the Disgaea series in that statement. La Pucelle is a story about Prier, a sister working for the church who aims to be the next Maiden of Light, and a professional demon hunter. She's rude and crass, but her heart is in the right place. Or at least it will be if you make the right choices.

That's right, there are multiple endings that are affected by your actions. In fact, one of the gag endings in the original got extended for the Ragnarok version, which is pretty entertaining. Just like with the rest of the game, there are still a bunch of quirky character interactions to witness, mostly involving Prier getting mad at someone. Chapters can have their own endings as well, so pay attention to what people say, and if there is an extra panel of interest on the map, it may be a good idea to check it out.

Much closer in style to Disgaea than Rhapsody, La Pucelle features what has become what some may immediately think of when a NIS or Disgaea title is mentioned: grid-based combat with many units introduced through a base panel. While there are a lot of differences and quirks, the basic premise of La Pucelle is to go shopping in the town and talk to who you want, then head off into a series of stages in a large overarching map.

Each stage is individual, and will generally be cleared either by defeating all the monsters or by walking onto a panel that leads to the next screen. What La Pucelle also has is Dark Portals. Essentially these guys are like the geo panels in Disgaea, except they are tiles you can walk on, and standing on them and facing a direction will send a floor effect in a line. Certain characters can purify the portals, which causes a chain reaction along the floor panels, possibly ending in a damaging or healing miracle, if you fulfill the right conditions.

So, let's talk a bit about how La Pucelle is different from the standard SRPG from NIS nowadays. You more or less have four different base leveling systems at play. I know that sounds like a lot, but hear me out a bit. Two are tied to your character specifically, and two are tied to the gear you have equipped. For character specific, you have a raw level, which increases as you kill enemies and participate in a group killing enemies, and skill levels, which increase with use. The levels tied to your items are item level and attribute levels. Items will gain exp as you purify dark portals, enhancing stats upon leveling. Attribute levels increase as you participate in killing enemies, and increases a characters attribute value. At certain benchmarks, characters will learn new skills, such as minor increases in critical rate or defense.

In addition to this, there is also an item fusion option, where you can have a tamed monster hold at least two items to have their effects added to the first item the monster is holding. Yes, you read that correctly, you can tame monsters here as well. This is done in a manner similar to the Dark Portals, where you purify a creature and then beat it. The more you purify it, the more likely it will be to join you, although more of a similar type of monster means a harder recruitment threshold.

La Pucelle is chock full of interesting characters with some of the best names taken from French words as well. We have Prier (prayer) the hot-headed and violent sister, Culotte (cheeky or knickers), Alouette (Sparrow), Salade (Lettuce) etc. Heck, even the "Goddess Poitreen" is similar to "poitrine". All of the characters have their own personalities and place in the story and are interesting in their own right. Characters are also only as useless as you let them become, so if you feel a character isn't up to snuff, maybe you should reexamine your training regimen for them and what they have equipped.

Now, despite having a little more complicated battle and leveling system, I found the equipment economy to be a lot more user friendly than in the Disgaea titles. Sure the way of leveling and fusing is surprisingly in-depth, but at least you no longer need to run through a 100 floors of annoying enemies, only to get soft-locked on floor 98 by geo panels that give Immortality and No Moving. So dumb that was.

As a port, both Rhapsody and La Pucelle have been done a real service. I can assure you, having broken out the original La Pucelle Tactics a few weeks ago, that playing it on my PS2 looks ugly as all hell on my current TV. The Switch port though? It looks great. Well, it certainly looks and feels old, but it doesn't look bad, and that's the important thing. Plugging the PS2 in it got all stretched and looked wonky, but no more with the Switch release! Whether it is in handheld mode or TV mode, both were appealing. Rhapsody does have a "smooth mode", which I've shown an example of earlier, that I found to be a little ugly looking, but it's an optional toggle! As an added bonus, the runtime was smooth and loading times were fast. Heck, I feel like I got more lag on my PS2 than on the Switch.


Overall, Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 is my favourite of the bunch. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure and La Pucelle: Ragnarock have what I feel is the most heart of all the NIS classic titles.

If you're a fan of the Disgaea series, you can't go wrong with either title, and even those new to the genre have a wonderful entry with Rhapsody. The updated graphic quality from the PS1 and PS2 era is greatly appreciated, and being able to bring these titles with me on the go with the Switch is amazing.

Score: 8.25 / 10



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