Before there was Guitar Hero, before there was Elite Beat Agents, even before there was Dance Dance Revolution, there was PaRappa the Rapper. Released in 1997 for the PSOne, PaRappa introduced the rhythm music genre to console gamers. Now, a decade later, the classic returns for an encore performance on the PSP. After all this time, can PaRappa still throw down with the best of them?
I’m happy to report that he can.
PaRappa the Rapper still exudes the same qualities it did those many years ago. The story is charming, following PaRappa, a paper-thin rapping dog, as he tries to win the heart of a flower-like girl named Sunny Funny. To impress Sunny, PaRappa enlists the help of some friends as he learns kung-fu, takes a driver’s education course to get his driver’s license, raises money for a new car at a flea-market, bakes a seafood cake, uses the bathroom (ok, not all that impressive to a girl), and finally, performs a hip hop song on stage at a party.
PaRappa raps his way through each of these six activities in a clever bit of gameplay that resembles the classic electronic game Simon. Players are tasked to repeat a sequence of sounds, triggered by pressing the appropriate face and shoulder buttons not only in the right order but also in time with the beat. Points are awarded for correctness and style but more importantly, players must keep the “U rappin’” meter in the “cool” or “good” range by the end of the song in order to advance to the next stage. If the meter dips to “bad” or awful,” PaRappa will fail the stage and have to do it all over again.
That’s essentially PaRappa in a nutshell. It’s not a complicated game. In fact, it’s quite simple…and short. There are only six stages to get through and as long as you’re not rhythmically challenged, you should be able to complete the game in under a couple of hours. There’s not a whole lot of replay value afterwards, unless you wish to better your score or try to freestyle by using the directional pad to add your own personal touch to each rap.
The PSP version of PaRappa the Rapper offers additional features, such as Ad-hoc multiplayer in which up to four players can compete for the highest score, as well as downloadable remixes of the game’s six raps. I would have like to have seen some new content, perhaps even an additional storyline, to prolong the experience. Don’t get me wrong, PaRappa the Rapper is an entertaining game, it’s just really short.
Ultimately the brevity of PaRappa the Rapper is what makes it such a tough game to recommend. There’s no doubt it’s still a lot of fun. The story is charming, the characters are cute, the rappin’ gameplay is clever, and the songs are incredibly catchy. The problem is the game only lasts two to three hours, with little incentive to pop it back into your handheld. For $29.99 USD, that’s a tough rap to swallow. The price tag is too high for what you get. I feel it would have been better suited as a PlayStation Network release. With that said, if you haven’t played the original PaRappa the Rapper on the PSOne, it’s definitely worth a rental simply to see where the rhythm music genre was born and to find out why PaRappa was such a hit back in the day.