Parappa the Rapper


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 6

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

parapparapper1ps1.jpg (34569 bytes)This is one of those games that you form an opinion on just by looking at the packaging. My guess is that most people most of the time will say "what the hell is this crappy looking kiddie game doing on the Playstation?". Of course, I didn’t think that, because for some odd reason, I still have faith in the game industry. I believe that every once in awhile, some developer is going to create something unusual, or dare I say it... original. Parappa has that 90's crude two dimensional look done in 3D, kind of like those old baseball cards you used to find in cereal boxes (hey, I still have my 1971 Kellogg’s Willie Mays card!), and really doesn’t look like much more than a game aimed at very small children at first glance. My faith is sometimes justified. This is one of those times.

Parappa the Rapper is NOT an original game, however. The concept isn’t even new to video games, although developers have shyed away from it for quite some time. If you remember the electronic game "Simon", or Atari’s "Touch Me", you’ve already got 90% of the concept. A classic console games like Off Your Rocker for the Atari VCS and Brain Strainers for the ColecoVision also worked this idea into a game. In its infancy, it was pretty much just "mimic the computer" , a ‘la Simon Says. The computer would throw a series of colors or sounds at you, you would try to repeat them back. Usually the game ended when your memory reached its limit and you couldn’t repeat the computer’s incrementally difficult series of beeps and flashes.

parappa.jpg (10125 bytes)So don’t be thrown off if you play the game and it seems instantly familiar despite the claims that this is an original. It isn’t . What Parappa is, however, is creative. And it also happens to be fun, which used to be the reason why we play video games in the first place. The gameplay is 90% old stuff, but the new stuff is just innovative enough to make it all seem fresh. The title character is a small dog with an oversized hat, with friends of various mammalian species. The "girl" of his dreams is a flower named Sunny. You press buttons that correspond to the computer’s direction, each of which basically makes Parappa express a word or motion. Do them in time with the music and you score points. Yes, it’s all very cute until you find yourself swearing at a cartoon chicken on the TV screen, and then you see the sinister intent of the game. You see, Parappa isn’t just about following the computer’s moves. You have to do BETTER than the computer. When the computer says "chop kick block!", your response should be "ch-ch-ch-chop! k-k-k-kick block-block-block", which you can achieve by pressing the buttons quickly or timing it just right.

The music is really a standout, with six very catchy tunes. I found myself laughing as I finally "got it" on some of them ("I been working in the flea market so early/been working here since my mama was a baby"... tee hee), which is a good thing because you’ll have to listen to them dozens of times before you master them. Parappa scores pretty low in the graphics department. Even if you really like the trendy hand-drawn graphics I just can’t give it high marks. The gameplay department is pretty weak too. There’s just the one thing to do. Learn to do the sequences the best way possible. And by now, you’re probably thinking I really don’t like the game. My retort is much the same as it would be for any classic-era game with low-res graphics and simple controls: IF it’s fun to play, it’s a good game. And Parappa IS, above all things, fun to play. When I find myself checking the clock after getting driver’s ed instructions from a moose, and it’s 2AM, I can safely say I’ve been having fun for about four hours longer than I should have.

I would have to say there are very few gamers who wouldn’t enjoy Parappa. It could be longer, but there are always the expert levels to conquer. I’d recommend at least renting it for a night. If you’re up until 2, you’re probably going to want to buy it later that morning!


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Last updated: Friday, October 07, 2005 10:45 PM