Flashback to the 90âs: 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 âmad propsâ for its style; the visuals and music transport you to a cartoon world where animals rap, and onions teach karate. The plot remains unchanged: youâre trying to win the affection of a sunflower named Sunny Funny with your mad rap skills. Its innocence is admirable - from PaRappaâs catch phrase âI gotta believe!â to the noticeable absence of AK47s. Rodney Greenblatâs character designs donât suffer from the effects of time; nor does Masaya Matsuuraâs zany music. Detracting from PaRappaâs original âflavaâ, 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 wouldnât be a problem if, you know, the whole game didnât rely on seeing it clearly. Itâs a real shame that the PSPâs sharp screen hasnât been used to its full potential.
Surely a decade (and two sequels) later weâd 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 opponentâs 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 ânewâ is open to creative interpretation, as these songs are just remixes of the original six tunes. This is a big disappointment because PaRappaâs soundtrack, from the opening Master Chop Chop Onionâs Rap to the downbeat, capitalist stylings of Prince Fleaswallow, are masterpieces of game music.
PaRappaâs strengths and weaknesses are both born from the fact that it hasnât 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 itâs 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. Donât let the âadditionsâ fool you - PaRappa should be downloadable from the PlayStation Network for a fraction of the price. Itâs hard to dismiss such an original, charming game - but if youâve played it before then I wouldnât encourage an encore - just go dust off the original.