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PaRappa the Rapper
Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: NaNaOn-Sha
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Rhythm/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
PaRappa the Rapper was a unique and funky game back in the day, with simplistic, yet well defined, characters with an interesting animation style that features 2D "paper cutout" characters animated in a 3D world. While this style was cool, it never really caught on, leaving PaRappa the Rapper as an interesting, although niche, title.

PaRappa the Rapper is a game that is all about rhythm, so it makes sense that music would be a core factor in the game. Mind you, the music in PaRappa the Rapper has a definite style. You're likely to either love it or hate it, and since you can't play the game without the music, if you don't like the music, that could be the end of the game for you, right there.

One interesting thing that occurs with both the visuals and the music is that if your performance is not good enough, it will be reflected in the gameplay. Your "instructor" will seem to lose interest in teaching you and this annoying horn sound will sound in time to the music, serving as a warning that you're in danger of losing the level, but also serving as a distraction that can further mess up your timing.


Gameplay:
The old-school classic returns in a new, portable format with PaRappa the Rapper on your PSP. The idea is simple: PaRappa has mishaps and misadventures that he gets into and determines that the only way to fix the problem is to believe in himself... and then take some sort of lesson from an expert "Rap Master" in the subject, whether it be martial arts from Master Chop-Chop or selling things from Master Prince FleaSwallow.

You get all 6 of the original songs from the original game, as well as new PSP exclusive features, such as Ad-Hoc Multiplayer, downloadable remixes and a gameshare demo.

The game is as I remember it, even a timing issue that I seem to recall being an issue on the PlayStation; if you push the correct buttons at the correct time based on the music, you'll be fine, but if you try to time your button presses based on the graphical interface indicating when to press them, you're likely to miss the timing. The graphical interface seems to lag behind. If you are good enough with rhythm that you can use the graphics just to indicate what buttons are to be pressed and in what order and use the song's rhythm to determine when to press the buttons, you'll do much better.

There are two Ad-Hoc wireless game offerings in PaRappa the Rapper. First, there is a Multiplayer mode that allows for up to four players to face off against each other on a level that they've all unlocked in single player mode. (If no advancement has been made at all, the first level is, at least, available.) Second, there is a Game Sharing option that allows a friend to sample the game without having the game themselves. This option will allow a friend to try out the first level of PaRappaTheRapper on their own PSP, without you having to loan them your UMD.

As mentioned above, there is built-in support for additional song downloads via wireless connection, for use with the existing levels. As of this writing, however, there was no additional content available, but the support is there.


Difficulty:
The hard part of PaRappa the Rapper boils down to pressing the right buttons at the right times. Performance will improve with practice, as you begin to "learn" parts of the different songs. It is worth noting that since the original game is only 6 songs long, the difficulty ramps up relatively quickly.

This game can be fun for those who are good at hearing and duplicating rhythms, but would most likely prove to be more frustrating than constructive for someone who has a problem with rhythms already.

Unfortunately, the difficulty is increased by the sync issue mentioned in Gameplay above. If you try to time your button presses to using the graphics alone, you won't get far in this game.


Game Mechanics:
PaRappa the Rapper was a groundbreaking game in its own time and is a wonderful piece of gaming nostalgia to this day. Only, now, you can take it with you and practice your mad rapping skills on the bus or on your lunch break.

One thing that is a bit annoying is the way that the menu system is handled in PaRappa the Rapper; there are different menu sections on screen, and the action buttons are reused. You first have to use the D-pad highlight to select the menu you want before you press the action button to indicate the desired action. If you don't make sure that the correct menu has focus, you will select the wrong item (whatever item is assigned to the button you pressed in the currently selected menu). This is more than a mild annoyance, as I selected the wrong thing several times, but if you can keep it in mind, you can get to what you want.

I am sad to see that the timing issue made it onto the PSP version. It seems like a small thing to clean up, that would have made PaRappa much more approachable.

Still, if you enjoyed PaRappa the Rapper back in the day, then you'll love being able to polish up your rapping skills with the mack-daddy himself, PaRappa.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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