Rhapsody of Zephyr

    When Rhapsody of Zephyr was released in Korea in 1998 for the PC, the game's developer, Softmax became known as one of the more reputable Strategy-RPG developers in Korea. The game was then picked up in 1999 for Japanese PC release by Nihon Falcom, the company known for the famous Ys and Dragon Slayer series. Rhapsody of Zephyr sold well and became one of the best selling titles in Korea, and also received universal critical acclaim, such as the coveted Login PC magazine 1999 Game of the Year award. Three years after its original release, the title was ported to the Dreamcast in early 2001.

Special effects abound

    Rhapsody of Zephyr's back-story-rich narrative branches off from the company's flagship series, The War of Genesis. Fifty years after the Genesis War, the continent of Antaria laid in shambles. The once peaceful kingdom united under the Caysir Empire had lost its monarch. Provincial lords vied for power in the new and unstable era. Principal among them is Cesare Borgia, a knight who embraces the enemy's religion. After becoming Cardinal of the Empire Dominion, he returns to the defeated Caysir, seizes the reigns of authority, bans the state religion, and accuses his political opponents of heresy.

 Bridge Scene
Stunning backdrops

    Enter Roberto de Meditch, leader of a rebel group known as the Zephyr Falcons. His rebel group sieges the prison and frees Cesare's captives, including Rhapsody of Zephyr's hero, Cyrano Bernstein. During Cyrano's time in the jail catacombs he encounters and befriends Deimos, a god of chaos from the Genesis Wars, who imparts knowledge of the legendary Ashura sword. With Cyrano's knowledge and new found freedom he vows retribution by seeking the mythical sword, and joins the Zephyr Falcons. The plot, based on Alexandre Dumas' novel The Count of Monte Cristo, features all the aristocratic and romantic chicanery to be expected from such source material.

Sweet, Sweet Kana
Kana Milanovich

    Gameplay mixes proven formulas with Softmax's own interesting twists. Battles, although random, happen directly on the world map. Once there, the interface is similar to Arc the Lad's, and characters move around a grid structure while choosing from typical options such as attack, magic, or special skills. Chiefly important in battle strategy is the understanding of the unique weapon system. Weapons have their own statistical power, such as HP and can be diminished or destroyed by powerful enemy attacks or overuse.

    Thanks to some of the more talented artists in the industry, Rhapsody of Zephyr boasts the most stunningly beautiful character portraits and designs this side of Valkyrie Profile. Characters and locales come to life with well done combinations of hand drawn art, CG and photorealistic landscapes. Unfortunately, the game doesn't necessarily benefit from the upgraded power of the Dreamcast, as there aren't any significant changes in the new port. However, Rhapsody of Zephyr stands strong enough on its own merits that it doesn't really need enhancement.

    With the decline of the Dreamcast and the title's complexity -- which spanned 3 discs on PC -- Rhapsody of Zephyr is an unlikely candidate for North American localization. But interested importers should find Rhapsody of Zephyr more than a welcome addition to any RPG collection.

Preview by Jeff Davis, GIA.
Rhapsody of Zephyr
Developer Softmax/Nihon Falcom
Publisher Softmax
Genre Strategy RPG
Medium GD-ROM (?)
Platform Dreamcast
Release Date  02.22.01
Rhapsody of Zephyr status update
25 high-res screens, 10 screenshots
Character portraits
Box art, background wallpaper