Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 Review – Where Disgaea Began

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 Review

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 brings back two cult classics from Nippon Ichi Software’s past. While the company is notorious for making standalone titles, La Pucelle: Ragnarok and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure are connected. More than that, they’re both connected to the developer’s flagship franchise Disgaea. Previous Prinny Presents collections offered experimental mechanics and beloved characters. This collection shows where the Disgaea franchise truly began.

La Pucelle: Ragnarok tells the story of one of Disgaea’s most famous cameo characters. In this game, the world is perpetually under assault by the endlessly resurrecting Dark Prince. Fortunately, when the Dark Prince appears, so does the miraculous Maiden of Light. This savior is a faithful servant of the Goddess Poitreene, and she will cast down the enemy. But when the Dark Prince returns early, demon hunter Prier and her team must step up to do the job.

Meanwhile, Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure tells a lighter story about a village girl, her puppet friends, and her daily struggles. Cornet is a young girl who can talk to puppets and bring them to life. She’s been dreaming of falling in love with a prince for as long as she can remember. When Prince Ferdinand rescues her from a dragon—long story—her dream comes true. But right when she’s about to marry her true love, everything goes wrong. Now, Cornet must travel across the land to save Ferdinand. Both games feature a lot of meta humor and creative fantasy worlds, qualities that would be re-used in the Disgaea games. What binds them together is that they’re both love stories at their cores.

Ragnarok Doesn’t Scare Me

La Pucelle: Ragnarok is a remastered version of La Pucelle: Tactics that has never been released in English before. This version adds a ton of quality of life improvements, extra voice acting, and a whole extra campaign that is now official. The game follows rough and tough Prier, a novice demon hunter who dreams of becoming the Maiden of Light. After she’s admitted to La Pucelle, the Church of the Holy Maiden’s demon-hunting squad, it seems like she’s getting closer to her goal. But a quest for sainthood that she probably doesn’t deserve gets derailed when the Dark Prince begins reviving early. What follows is a surprisingly dark tale about love, revenge, and the price of war.

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 La Pucelle: Ragnarok cutscene.

Prier makes a fun antihero, even before she became a demon. In fact, La Pucelle: Ragnarok feels much like a slightly kinder Disgaea game. I can see why Prier fits so well into that series. Also like Disgaea, this is a turn-based strategy RPG about directing cute characters to fight cute monsters. It throws a few new ingredients into the mix in the form of purification and miracles. Dark portals on the map make your characters weaker and spawn enemies. Meanwhile, purifying them will earn rewards. Controlling the direction and timing of energy flows with purification makes for some exciting map effects. If you plan carefully, you can get double or even triple actions. It’s really satisfying to clear a level with mass miracles.

As per usual for NIS games, level grinding is your friend and there’s about six months’ worth of content. However, positioning matters a bit less, unless you’re aiming for miracles. Battles take place in a standard JRPG battle screen, so flanking an opponent doesn’t really matter. You can also befriend enemies by purifying them, though it’s a better idea to focus on story characters. Characters are automatically healed if you return to the world map, which is convenient. As a general rule, do not save your special moves. Use them as often as possible. This is the only way to level them up and learn magic from your items.

Rhapsody: Less Musical Than Expected

When I first heard about Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, I assumed it would be a rhythm game. As it turns out, this title is instead a fusion of classic JRPG and strategy RPG. It features random encounters, turn-based battles, and a separate battle screen. However, characters must navigate their way across the battlefield to attack opponents. You can still recruit monsters by defeating them, but you can also discover and recruit puppets across the game world. That said, the game is, indeed, a musical adventure. This means the cast periodically breaks into song. Fortunately, the voice actors appear to have been cast based on singing ability. You can even busk in town squares as you travel.

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure musical sequence.

This is one of NIS’ earliest titles, and it’s definitely showing its age. The developer’s classic formula hadn’t been refined just yet. As a result, this title feels more like a classic JRPG than most of the modern NIS catalog. It also looks very much like an RPGmaker game. On top of that, the interface is a bit more confusing than later titles and there are fewer stats to juggle. Magic doesn’t go through obstacles and navigating the battle screen is more difficult. Also, the musical segments tend to take power away from the player at random.

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure predates NIS’ tendency to include absurd power scaling in its games. This lessens the replay value, but does mean you’re not being pressured to level grind. Speaking of which, it’s actually really easy to play. This is actually kind of a downside—you don’t even have to try to win fights. Positioning is hardly ever important. You could basically just leave combat on auto the whole time and focus on the story. Fortunately, that story is pretty charming, and the game’s presentation is pretty excellent.

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Has Done It Again

This collection gives gamers a chance to experience a slice of NIS history. La Pucelle: Ragnarok is exceptionally important here since Overlord Priere is such a mainstay in the Disgaea series. The game has English and Japanese voices available, and the English voice acting is pretty good. Prier is hilarious, Alouette is delightfully smarmy, and Culotte is a little brat. Most of the other voices are serviceable enough. However, not all the important cutscenes are voiced for some reason. The graphics are clearly aged, but the detailed animations still have their own charm. The characters are all very expressive and full of life, and the playful soundtrack is surprisingly good at making Prier’s adventures feel grand in scope.

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 La Pucelle: Ragnarok cutscene showing Culotte being taken hostage.

Both games’ graphics are quite retro now, but the visual design is still gorgeous. If you’re put out with modern Disgaea’s switch to 3D graphics, this collection is for you. Both games feature gorgeous retro pixel art in the style of early 2000s JRPGs. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure even allows you to add the CRT filter back in.

Speaking of which, Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure is one of NIS’ very first games, and playing it felt like seeing where the developer had come from. This game looks even more retro than La Pucelle: Ragnarok, though its voice acting is better. It also has the advantage of being unvoiced except for the songs. This makes the clear vocals stand out sharply. The overall sound design of this title is also excellent, with a wide variety of charming tunes.

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 3 Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure Recruitment sequence.

All in all, Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol 3 is a pretty solid purchase for fans of retro SRPGs, but I wouldn’t recommend it for casual gamers. However, if you want your young sister or daughter to get into RPGs, this might be a good starter package. She can begin with the easy difficulty and charming story of Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. Once she has her bearings and is ready for something more complex, she can try La Pucelle: Ragnarok.

***Switch code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Two classic titles for the price of one
  • Great replay value
  • La Pucelle: Ragnarok in English
  • So many quality of life improvements
  • Great visual and sound design

The Bad

  • Rhapsody is very easy
  • Both games are visibly dated
  • Not recommended for casual games