Review by mildare_el_rayo

"I gotta believe!"

Way back when, when playstation was not quite the household name it is now, and Sony lacked a proper mascot for its console, a rhythm game, often called “the father of modern rhythm games” was designed. A quirky character design was needed, and so Rodney Greenblat, an American graphic who's that´s quite popular in Japan (and who, incidentally, is now working on the package design for the popular Pocky treats) was hired to do the artwork for the game, and former Japanese Pop Singer Masaya Matsuura was entrusted with the game design. The resulting game was the now infamous Parappa the Rapper, considered widely for a long time to be one of the “Playstation Mascots.”

The art design is queer, to say the least. Every character is almost two-dimensional, thin as a sheet of paper, similar to the Paper Mario characters. They move a bit oddly: Exactly how you would expect a sheet of paper to move, actually. Their arms bend up in weird manners when they're moved and dance turns are awkward and strange. This is not necessarily a bad thing: It actually adds to the game's charm at times. Most of the characters are pretty ugly, particularly Parappa's father, who appears on-screen for no more than fifteen seconds. However, the world is completely three-dimensional, making for quite an odd combination of factors that looks quite interesting. The protagonist is the eponymous Parrapapa, who, incidentally, raps everyday. He's a cheerful anthropomorphic dog whose head is almost completely covered by a beanie, and is love with Sunny Funny, a beautiful sunflower who wishes Parappa were more manly.

The entire plot revolves around the aforementioned infatuation, and is extremely japanese. Odd things occur at every turn; are resolved in the most extravagant of fashions; are always accompanied by Parappa's motto: “I gotta believe!”; and always involve rapping in some manner. They're also accompanied by charming and bizarre cinematic intro and outro sequences that give us a better look of Parappa's world and illustrate the setting. A lot of work seems to have gone into these sequences, so much so that they, along with the game's popularity, seem to have inspired a spin-off anime in Japan. Every ne of the game's six scenarios is designed in such a way that it involves a conflict that can only be resolved by rapping with one or several of the game's four "rapping masters." They are invariably ridiculous and bizarre. For instance, the third scenario:

Parappa gets a license and borrows his dad's car to take his friend's for a drive. While driving, he starts daydreaming and crashes into a truck. The car is blasted off into space, and gets pulled back by the earth's gravity, crashing down into the same spot where it took off, and breaking upon impact. Everyone in the car is unharmed, and the crash makes Parappa recall how his economically struggling father still has 59 monthly installments to pay. Thus, Parappa decides to work a couple of minutes rapping at the local flea market to get his dad a new car (?!)

Like I said before, the game is bizarre, outlandish, and sometimes ridiculously cartoonish.

That's when the actual gameplay kicks off. As Parappa, you must follow your master's raps by pressing the correspondent buttons that appear on screen after your master has "rapped them" with the proper timing. For instance, your master may rap "I will sell a bottle cap like this" with "RRRRRRR R R" with a certain rhythm. After hearing him say this, you must press "RRRRRRR R R" with the same rhythm, and Parappa will then say "I can try to sell a cap like this". However, his raps may sound clunky, since a chunk of the recorded audio sounds every time you press a button.

The gameplay can be a bit clumsy, especially for a rhythm game. The beat of the song will hardly ever be synced with the on-screen button indicators, so it can be a bit confusing whether you're supposed to press a button when the cursor passes it on-screen or when you think the song's rhythm dictates it, making you fail miserably at a song at times.

When playing a song, there's four rankings you can achieve at any given time, and these may change over the course of the song: Cool, Good, Bad, and Awful. To succcesfully complete a song, it is necessary to achieve a good or better rating, though it's impossible to get a "cool" rating unless you freestyle religiously, something that is never indicated in-game. To go down a rating, you must fail at a rap segment twice consecutively, so it's perfectly possible for you to play a song incredibly but miss the last two segments of the song and fail it. This is particularly annoying in the game's last song, when the last couple of segments are absolutely impossible to get.

The game can be extremely charming albeit annoying and frustrating. The rhymes are incredibly simple and silly at times, therefore not to everyone's liking. Its biggest drawback is perhaps the fact that it's incredibly short, with only six songs to play. If you get them all on your first try, this means that you'll only be getting about 20 minutes of net playtime before you complete the game, and will be spending the rest of your time watching the silly and enjoyable cutscenes.

Parappa the Rapper has, by now, become a cult game, so if you haven't played it, you should probably give it a chance, especially if you can get it at a low price. It's got plenty going for it, but it's also got its share of drawbacks, which some people are unable to forgive the game for. If you're not into quirky, deviant Japanese products, then you'll most definitely not appreciate this game's style, but if you are and can appreciate the value of shows like Crayon Shin-chan, then it's entirely possible you'll enjoy this game.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/14/12

Game Release: PaRappa the Rapper (EU, 07/06/07)


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