Before the music/rhythm genre blew up Nanaon-Sha created Parappa the Rapper. It had a fresh look with flat paper-like characters in a 3D world and at the time the gameplay was revolutionary. You play as PaRappa a beanie wearing dog trying to win the affection of Sunny Funny by rapping. The top of the screen has a bar where PaRappa’s head floats past buttons that you need to press on time to make him spit lyrics. Unlike other music and rhythm games you are encouraged to stray from the assigned buttons and freestyle. As long as you stay on beat you earn bonus points and boost your rapping rating all the way up to the coveted “u rappin’ cool” rating.
Before PaRappa gets funky on his own you have to shadow a master’s song. In the first level you meet Chop Chop Master Onion, a black belt with an onion head that raps to teach PaRappa martial arts. Here you learn the basics, pressing a single button on time to punch and make PaRappa sound off. There is plenty of time to add in extra punches, kicks and jumps to ease players into the later levels. It’s basic, but you have to remember this is one of the forefathers of the press-a-button-on-time rhythm games. After playing Beatmania, Ouendan and Pop ‘n Music, PaRappa doesn’t feel as hard. The game does get more difficult and you meet a creative cast of characters. A talking chicken helps PaRappa make a cake, and a purple beetle encourages PaRappa to believe.
Chop Chop Master Onion instructs PaRappa the elements of martial arts so he can stand up to bullies.
Instructor Mooselini teaches PaRappa to drive so he can impress Sunny Funny.
Prince Fleaswallow helps PaRappa sell junk so he can repair his father’s car.
Cheep Cheep Cooking Chicken cooks a cake with PaRappa for Sunny’s birthday.
Yeah, PaRappa’s tale is charming and the rapping masters are clever. But the game is only six stages long. Ouch. And the PSP port has the same six stages in the PsOne game. Double ouch. There are some improvements in the PaRappa the Rappa for the PSP. It takes advantage of the PSP’s widescreen during gameplay and there is ad hoc wireless play. Instead of remaking the full motion videos PaRappa on the PSP puts them in a tiny box, which was a disappointment. The main feature for PaRappa fans are eight new songs that aren’t available to download yet. In Japan, Sony released new remixes each week so I’m expecting the same kind of content phasing for North America.
Now here is where it gets difficult. Do I judge PaRappa the Rapper on the PSP based on my love for the rapping pooch or do I call out the port’s lack of new content. I’m going to go with the latter because I can’t justify re-buying a port that you can beat in a few hours. If you never played PaRappa the Rapper before and like music games you owe it to yourself to check it out. However, you can get the same experience for much cheaper by picking up a used copy of PaRappa the Rapper. A better idea than just cramming PaRappa on a UMD disc is if Sony included the PS2 sequel too or had infrastructure wireless play.