PaRappa the Rapper
Score: 7.0 / 10
Way back before our Guitar Heroes and Elite Beat Agents and Dance Dance Revolutions, we had PaRappa the Rapper. Arguably the game that popularized the rhythm genre, PaRappa the Rapper used a unique visual style - it's like a cartoon where all of the characters are paper-thin - and extraordinarily catchy tunes. And while it's a bit short on content compared to its contemporaries, PaRappa the Rapper is still a charming classic.
the Rapper is the classic boy-loves-girl story, except the "boy" here
is a rapping puppy, and the "girl" is a talking flower named Sunny. PaRappa
desperately pines for this here sunflower, and spends the entire game improving
himself (learning karate, getting a car, baking a cake) in an attempt to show
off his manliness. It's like a strange children's book brought to life, with a
extra bit of Japanese-style quirkiness that makes it all feel like an
uncomfortably pleasant dream.
In order for PaRappa to progress through the game, he needs to challenge several "rap master" in duels. It's essentially a simple game of Simon Says, where
you need to match the button presses with the indicator on screen. This is a bit easier said than done, however, due to the odd scoring system. The game never tells you if you've missed or screwed up a button press until the line is completed, so it's often hard to pick up where and when you do something wrong. Furthermore, the timing of the raps themselves
feel off. You can belt out a line that sounds terrible (and is incredibly off
from the intended sequence) and get
a good grade, but you can also time things that sound near perfect and still get
marked down. Compared to other later games, the rapping just doesn't sound as
natural, and as such, the grading seems to be a bit arbitrary. There's a fairly
large margin of error, but it's frustrating to repeat songs over and over when
you don't understand why you're fa! iling them. On subsequent playthrughts, if
you "freestyle" rap, you can get higher rankings and achieve some
additional animations - the only real replay value that PaRappa has - but how
you obtain this is a mystery hidden within the game's programming. You have to
"feel" it out, which just doesn't seem right.
These were all issues with the original game, and it's a bit annoying that none of them were addressed. In fact, very little has changed since the PSOne installment from ten years ago. The visuals can be displayed in its original 4:3 screen ratio or expanded to take up the entire screen. Unlike some cheaper PSP ports, the extended screen actually re-renders the graphics in 16:9 instead of simply stretching them. Even though there's nothing impressive from a technical standpoint, the bright graphics make this one of the most visually attractive titles on the PSP. The downside is that the cinemas - originally displayed in a small window in the console version - keeps the same aspect ratio, so it's even smaller compared to the huge PSP screen.
the story is pretty brief, containing six stages, which means only six songs.
Compared to Elite Beat Agents (which has eighteen) or Gitaroo Man (twelve), this
seems a little bit thin. However, more doesn't always necessarily mean better -
even though the song selection is sparse, at least five of the six songs are
excellent, and their short length makes them easily replayable. Master Onion's
karate lesson and Mooselini's driving instructions are only surpassed by the
fifth stage, where PaRappa desperately needs to use the toilet and needs to
outperform all of the previous rap masters. The only stumbling block is the
final stage, which is too repetitive and lacks the charm of the earlier songs,
considering it mostly just consists of PaRappa repeating the game's slogan
("You gotta believe!") over and over.
really nothing major added to the PSP version either. The only additions are
downloadable remixes (currently up to four for each song) which changes the
background music to each of the raps. These are supposed to make the old songs
seem fresh, but most of the
arrangements lack the pizazz of the originals. It's also strange that you need
to download them, when they
could've been easily put on the UMD. It would've been nice if Sony included its
sequels Um Jammer Lammy or even the mediocre PaRappa the Rapper 2, as it least
it would've made the package seem more complete.
In light of the PS3 download service and its extremely cheap PSOne titles, the standalone release of PaRappa the Rapper doesn't really feel right, especially considering that nothing worthwhile was added. Still, this being a first party release, it does retail at a bit cheaper price than your standard PSP games. So while the grading is still off, and the song selection is still scant, PaRappa has so much charm in its songs that it's still worthwhile all of these years later, whether you're revisiting it or playing it for the first time.
- Kurt Kalata
(August 29, 2007)
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