I GOTTA BELIEVE!
I’ve never taken part in any PaRappa-themed cosplay or imported any PaRappa memorabilia from Japan, but I think it’s safe to say that I’m one of the game’s biggest fans. Since its original (US) release in 1997, I have played through PaRappa the Rapper numerous times, all without ever completely growing tired of it. With its (at the time) revolutionary gameplay, unique visual style, awesome soundtrack and quirky characters (complete with often-bizarre and hilarious dialogue), every bit of PaRappa the Rapper just shines. To this day, over a decade since its release, the game remains one of the more memorable high-points of the Playstation era for me.
So, now the game comes to the PSP handheld, and it’s exactly what you might expect: the original PSX game presented in widescreen, with a couple little extras thrown in.
While that should be more than enough for any old-tyme fan like myself, if you weren’t impressed with the original iteration of the game, there’s nothing in the PSP version that’s going to change your mind. This is exactly the same game from all those years ago. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you.)
And if you’ve never played the game? Well, that’s where things may get a bit tricky…
OLD-SCHOOL HIP HOP
As much as I adore this title, I have to keep in mind that when it was released, there wasn’t much else like it. PaRappa is truly one of the forefathers of the modern rhythm-game genre, and I have to ask myself, “Would it still be a good game if it had been initially released today?” While I ultimately feel that it would be, the genre sure has come a long way since the late ’90’s, and gamers who cut their teeth on the Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution series may find PaRappa‘s Simon-esque gameplay too antiquated or strange. In my heart of hearts, I find it hard to imagine that any fan of the genre could walk away from their first PaRappa experience disappointed, but I can’t say that I’d really be surprised if that were the case. An open mind and willingness to embrace the game’s old-school design is certainly a pre-requisite for the newcomer.
So, what about those PSP extras? Well, there’s really not a whole lot to be found, I’m afraid. As much as I hoped that the PSP version would have included an extra (previously unreleased) stage or two, it was not to be. (If there’s one negative criticism I can lay on the game, it’s that its a tad too short. A couple of extra stages would have been superlative.) But what we do get is a widescreen presentation, simultaneous 4-player ad-hoc play (albeit gimped, as you can only share the first stage), and downloadable remixes for each of the game’s six stages. While interesting, the remixes are the biggest disappointment of the new features, as they in no way, shape or form come close to the greatness of the game’s original tracks. (Which, by the way, are some of the greatest songs to have ever been included in a game from the rhythm-game genre.) Well, except for one spicy cut: Remix “C” for Chop Chop Master Onion’s stage; a hard-rocking remix with crunching guitars that fits the theme of the stage perfectly, and is actually quite a quality track. Outside of curiosity’s sake, though, all of the other remixes aren’t even worth the trouble of downloading.
Without question, PaRappa the Rapper for the PSP is highly recommended. The game looks great, sounds fantastic, and if you have the inclination for its style, is a blast to play. Being able to have PaRappa on-the-go is about as cool as it gets, and on a personal level, I have to admit that I treasure my PSP copy of the game as much as I do my original PSX copy. Good times, my friends. Good times, indeed.