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Playstation 2












E (Everyone)



Q2 2002



- Nice mix of music

- Just plain fun



- Tempo ball feels off

- Mediocre visuals

- Too easy for those who know their classical music



Review: PaRappa the Rapper 2 (Playstation 2)



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Mad Maestro

Score: 7.0 / 10

Music games have been around for a while now, PaRappa and friends are busily doing their monkey-see monkey-do thing, then thereís the whole DDR dance pad phenomenon, but for those seeking a more classical vibe, there is now Mad Maestro.  While it is a tad disappointing that the game doesnít have a conductorís staff, the overall selection of music encountered and execution makes for a refreshing departure from the status quo in the genre.

mad-maestro-1.jpg (14061 bytes)   mad-maestro-2.jpg (17324 bytes)   mad-maestro-3.jpg (17209 bytes)


The whole point of the game is to rally enough musicians to be able to put on a big performance at the local music hall in order to raise enough money to prevent the building from being torn down.  Itís a very easy going, fun-loving premise and it doesnít try to be anything more.  The whole process is entertaining enough, but it can feel a little bit childish, but that is largely due to the voice of the little sprite/elf/pixie-thingie that talks to the player before each level.  Nonetheless the delivery of the plot is done well enough to keep oneís interest throughout the game.





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The controls and execution of the gameplay take a little getting used to, but for the most part are straightforward.  Basically youíll see four circles positioned into a diamond, a glowing orb flowing from circle to circle to the tempo of the music.  Not only will you have to keep in time though, dynamics are also a factor, so hitting the button at the right velocity is also necessary in order for the orchestra to adjust their volume accordingly.  Lastly the tempos will often change 


a number of times during the course of the musical piece, which can sometimes feel awkward.  More or less this all works well, but sometimes the glowing ball that players are supposed to use a guide to the tempo feels off, as I found it much easier to lead the tempo from memory of recorded versions of the music that Iíve heard from my own CD collection.

This causes some more trouble if you are a somewhat avid classical music fan as you will likely be quite familiar with at least a few of the pieces featured in the game, so it can feel like youíre going through the paces, and not much like a game.  Itís still fun, but the familiarity takes the edge off a bit.  On the other hand, if youíre completely new to these pieces getting used to the tempo changes and the different volumes may prove somewhat frustrating as you tackle the learning curve, especially dealing with the repetition of going through a song over and over until you get a part right.

The musical selection isnít too bad either though.  I was expecting it to be a lot of very popular pieces and thatís it, but what I found was a very interesting mix of tunes that really help expose players to this genre of music.  Everyone from Beethoven to Wagner have some of their works featured, so thereís a little something for everybody.  The only major downside to the music is that it has a somewhat MIDI-like quality to it.  This is to be expected since the player is largely in control of the music, but some higher quality instrumentation would have been most welcome.

Donít expect much from the visuals however.  They are fairly simplistic, cartoon-like fair, but there really isnít any flare or soul or bite to the gameís visual aesthetic that will win gamers over.  The frame rate is good, and there are cute little animation sequences that play out with the music, but it wonít take any steps to redefine game graphics in our era.

The gameís challenge largely hinges on the playerís familiarity with classical music.  I listen to quite a bit of music in the genre in my spare time so a lot of the pieces in the game were ones I have heard on several occasions, and as such the game was a bit of a cakewalk.  Nonetheless it makes for a fun little rental.  If you are new to classical music you will likely get a lot more out of this game.  Sure, there is no conductorís baton peripheral in packed with the game to truly feel like youíre leading the orchestra, but it is still just as fun as many PaRappa-like games out there, and the classical sensibility definitely adds a fun little twist to the equation.  At the very least this is a game to take for a spin once or twice.

- Mr. Nash

(June 15, 2002)

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