PaRappa the Rapper

Flashback to the 90’s: the rhythm music game was a strange new creature crawling towards the mainstream; and PaRappa captained this beast into the homes of gamers the world over. PaRappa was colourful; it was slightly bizarre; but most importantly it was original. Now speed through time to the modern day: music games have grown exponentially; Dance Dance Revolution was indeed an international... uh, revolution. More recently the coveted Guitar Hero and the impending Rock Band are examples of how far sequential button matching has come. Sure, said instrument thrashers are fairly pedestrian, but even the flamboyant Elite Beat Agents can be found on the shelf of your local game store. So where does this leave the new PaRappa for PSP; will it be as relevant second time around?

Regardless of its age, PaRappa deserves ‘mad props’ for its style; the visuals and music transport you to a cartoon world where animals rap, and onions teach karate. The plot remains unchanged: you’re trying to win the affection of a sunflower named Sunny Funny with your mad rap skills. Its innocence is admirable - from PaRappa’s catch phrase “I gotta believe!” to the noticeable absence of AK47s. Rodney Greenblat’s character designs don’t suffer from the effects of time; nor does Masaya Matsuura’s zany music. Detracting from PaRappa’s original ‘flava’, however, is the mediocre presentation. Although the levels are bold and have been stretched out to 16:9, the cut scenes still appear in their boxy 4:3 format, as well as appearing considerably degraded. Another foible is the microscopic rhythm bar - which wouldn’t be a problem if, you know, the whole game didn’t rely on seeing it clearly. It’s a real shame that the PSP’s sharp screen hasn’t been used to its full potential.

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Surely a decade (and two sequels) later we’d be treated with some great new features... right? Apparently the team has been busy on other projects. The game does offer an Ad Hoc mutliplayer mode, which plays exactly like the single player game, with the addition of your opponent’s score appearing on your screen - something which can be replicated just as successfully with a pen and paper. Also, there are new downloadable tracks; although perhaps the term ‘new’ is open to creative interpretation, as these songs are just remixes of the original six tunes. This is a big disappointment because PaRappa’s soundtrack, from the opening Master Chop Chop Onion’s Rap to the downbeat, capitalist stylings of Prince Fleaswallow, are masterpieces of game music.

PaRappa’s strengths and weaknesses are both born from the fact that it hasn’t changed at all. This version is merely a reheated port of the original, and as such is an expensive piece of nostalgia for the older player; but for PaRappa virgins it’s a quirky, entertaining experience. - and more importantly, it is an essential part of gaming history. It would be much easier to lather the game in praise if not for the price point. Don’t let the ‘additions’ fool you - PaRappa should be downloadable from the PlayStation Network for a fraction of the price. It’s hard to dismiss such an original, charming game - but if you’ve played it before then I wouldn’t encourage an encore - just go dust off the original.

"PaRappa bounces back onto PSP."
- PaRappa The Rapper
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 1 Hour


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