"So just imagine being back in the year is 1995, when you’ve just seen the PlayStation in action hot off the production line, and seen the likes Ridge Racer in action. You probably imagined how the wonders of 3D could translate into all your favourite genres, such as shooting, realistic sports and maybe action games, all later to become cookie-cutter genres on the format. At what point would you have imagined playing a game involving a 2D hip-hop rapping dog, who tries to impress a sunflower face..."
So just imagine being back in the year is 1995, when you’ve just seen the PlayStation in action hot off the production line, and seen the likes Ridge Racer in action. You probably imagined how the wonders of 3D could translate into all your favourite genres, such as shooting, realistic sports and maybe action games, all later to become cookie-cutter genres on the format. At what point would you have imagined playing a game involving a 2D hip-hop rapping dog, who tries to impress a sunflower faced lass, by trying to make himself everything he isn’t by rapping away to rhythms?
Indeed, this is just what PaRappa the Rapper is. PaRappa, a young hip-hop dog, is constantly trying to impress Sunny Funny, a caring sweet girl who PaRappa is trying to pull out from the deranged friendship zone. Unfortunately for him, he’s just short of a winning tactic and undertakes a series of over-zealous tasks to impress her, and mostly trying to equal the likes of a fellow admirer Joey Chin, a filthy rich pseudo-superhero dog with an ever-so-prominent chin. After a series of thugs comes raiding the burger-bar, Joey Chin gives them a whalloping driving PaRappa to think he needs to become a hero as well, so he undertakes kung-fu classes. When Joey arrives in a 200 metre limo PaRappa decides learning to drive will enable him to take Sunny anywhere, but crashing that means he needs to find some money. Throughout his quest, PaRappa learns that pretentiousness and material offerings don’t cut it as Joey Chin’s flamboyancy with his limo and endless banter doesn’t impress Sunny. PaRappa further teaches us that anything is possible, no matter how ridiculous the situation, with a bit of determination from his catchphrase “I gotta believe!”.
The raw game-play here is very straight-forward, at the very least you must keep in time with the rhythm that’s dictated at the top of the screen, a matter of hitting the right buttons at the right moments. However, keeping to the rhythm is the very least you can do, as the real action opens up by freestyling the rhythm. Intelligent, or should I say, cool offbeat additions to the rhythms will promote PaRappa to a “Cool” rating, in which the stage-master will disappear and leave you free to finish the level using your creative rapping kills though. But don’t rest on your laurels either, as any bad rapping will bring you back down to a “Good”. If you’re more of a Vanilla Ice than a Tupac with your rhythms your rating will plummet down to “Bad” or even “Awful” rating, causing all kinds of obscure things to happen in the level: the cooking chicken will transform into a fiery shade of red and Prince Fleaswallow (a Caribbean frog)’s stall will fall to bits.
Although the game-play sounds rather basic, it’s the niche factor behind PaRappa the Rapper that makes it a classic, with its quirky visuals and memorable level character raps. The stage masters are as ridiculous as they are memorable; with the Kung-fu classes professionally instructed by the Master Onion dojo; driving test pressure beckons as Mooselini gets ready to fail anyone who doesn’t rap in time; Cheap Cheap the chicken will punish those who cannot make seafood cake properly, and yes they will all be seeking revenge…in a garage toilet queue. That’s right, rapping your way to the front, not quite the British way of patiently waiting!
The insanely discrete graphics still do its job perfectly well now, with 2D paper cut-out characters in cartoony 3D backgrounds. The FMV’s driving the story between levels feel like watching any decent cartoon action with plenty of slapstick action.; PaRappa’s friends ranging from a sunflower, an over-enthusiastic cat (Katy) and a fat teddy bear DJ (DJ Berry); and environments that are laden of unexpectedly animate items as the plants dance along to the music, it’s all colourful and wacky. The voice-acting is certainly accomplished and certainly comparable to any decent Saturday morning cartoon, and funky rhythms and simplistic melodies may drive you to recite them again in your social life. None of the rappers are as high-speed to any of the hip-hop artists you know and love, in fact Prince Fleaswallow’s level rap is reminiscent to Jamaican reggae music, along with house, pop and “Old school genres”. In essence it’s all daft as a brush, and humorous at that.
The truth is, PaRappa the Rapper is probably one of the daftest games you’ll ever play, by taking just a brief glimpse of the box you won’t be wondering why. Although the gameplay is limited in depth, even with the cool freestyling, it’s the sheer eccentric nature of the game that makes it a buy. The FMV cartoons driving the story are excellent and the music tunes are very definitely cool, and some of the characters you come across are just plain bonkers. This game is a classic example of a genuine swift turn away from the cookie-cutter genres churned onto the format. When you’ve got a cult classic that extensively utilises the format’s multimedia functions to give a very amusing game overall, it does justify the simple game-play style. All you have to is that you gotta believe.
Community review by bigcj34 (March 21, 2008)
Cormac Murray is a freelance contributor for HG and is a fanboy of Sega and older Sony consoles. For modern games though he pledges allegiance to the PC Master Race, by virtue of a MacBook running Windows.
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