|Developer(s)||Nippon Ichi Software|
|Publisher(s)||Nippon Ichi Software, NIS America|
Marl Kingdom (マール王国?) is a series of RPGs developed by Nippon Ichi Software. The three main games in the series are Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, Little Princess: Marl Oukoku no Ningyou Hime 2, and Tenshi no Present: Marl Oukoku Monogatari.
The first two games were released on the PlayStation, and the third on the PlayStation 2. The first was later remade for the Nintendo DS, and is the only one so far to have been officially localized for English audiences.
Like most NIS games, the Marl games feature 2D, anime-style character graphics. Each of the games was created by Yoshitsuna Kobayashi, and feature the artwork of Yoshiharu Nomura, with music composed by Tenpei Sato. Sato describes Rhapsody as "a complete musical with both solos and choruses".
The games are known for their goofy sense of humor, tongue-in-cheek melodrama, and quirky cast of heroes and villains. Cornet, the hero of Rhapsody attacks enemies with storms of confectionary foods, while her chief rival, Etoile, pulls out machine guns and fills her enemies with bullets. These titles are also often described as very girly, with plots focusing on issues of love and the obsessions of the young female protagonist rather than good and evil or political issues. The games are also developed as musicals, with cutscenes usually featuring vocal numbers and often including dance routines. The first two titles are also considered fairly simple, with a stronger focus on story than complex or difficult gameplay. The third title increased the difficulty a little and added some depth to the gameplay.
Two spin-off puzzle games were developed using Marl Kingdom characters: Marl Jong!! (a Mahjong game for the PlayStation), and Marl de Jigsaw (a jigsaw puzzle game for the PS2). There are also a few mobile titles featuring characters from the series.
La Pucelle: Tactics is set in the Marl Kingdom universe, but takes place in a different time and location. The grandson of Rhapsody's Cornet, and Elly from Angel's Present, are characters in La Pucelle.
The item shops in most subsequent RPGs by NIS, including the Disgaea series, are named after (and often run by members of) the Rosenqueen family. Nippon Ichi and NIS America's online stores are also named after the family.
Many elements from the series are retained in NIS' later franchises, such as the elements of humor and often sugary-sweet characters. Some of the characters from the Marl Kingdom are occasionally included as unlockable bonus characters in many of their games, and some of the characters are available as DLC for Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice.