A little over a week ago, fans saw the release of a remastered PaRappa the Rapper for the PlayStation 4. Known for its bouncy, colorful raps; paper-based characters; and psychadelic art style, PaRappa the Rapper set high standards for rhythm-based games. But does the remastered iteration hold up to snuff? I think it does, with a few exceptions.
The story is, in more senses than one, an underdog story. PaRappa the Rapper opens with the protagonist PaRappa, an optimistic rapping pup, and his friends sharing a fast-food meal. Among his friends sits the lovely Sunny Funny, PaRappa’s love interest. When two blubbering bullies enter and harass them for their food, Joe Chin, the intimidatingly handsome dog-man with an overly pronounced chin, arrives and takes them down with his exhaustive resumé of awesomeness. But nobody’s impressed except PaRappa; he wants to be a hero, too! But how’s he going to do that? He’s gotta believe! This is the formula for every stage in the game. Things go great until something terrible or embarrassing happens, then, through the power of self-belief and some funky, funky flow, PaRappa overcomes.
Perhaps the best feature of the game’s storyline is its self-awareness. The game knows it’s silly and doesn’t try to be serious. This, I think, helps the player feel at ease in its wildly wonky world. For a cheesy, kooky storyline, PaRappa the Rapper proves an excellent cartoon adventure for any person of any age.
Like the storyline, gameplay is simple. Each stage/song ranks the player’s performance from ‘cool’ to ‘awful’, starting at ‘good’. Follow the leader and press the corresponding buttons in time with the music and you’ll pass the stage. If the player raps worse than ‘awful’, the song stops and they have to restart. One can also deviate from the leader’s teaching, giving the player a chance at a ‘Cool’ ranking. If the player raps ‘Cool’, they can freestyle.
The biggest issue with PaRappa the Rapper remastered is the execution of this simple mechanic. Sometimes the button inputs lag, making for an awkward rap, which usually means a decrease in rank. This is true of every stage and frustrates the player, especially if they know they’re on tempo.
There isn’t much to say graphics-wise. It looks better than its PS1 release. While it looks bright and sleek in HD, its predecessor PaRappa the Rapper 2 for the PS2 trounces it. It’s just a polished PS1 game—hence, remaster. Given that, players shouldn’t expect much.
Music is PaRappa’s forte. Each song is a carefully crafted, head-bobbing, toe-tapping ear worm. The genres explore the horizons of hip-hop, ranging from reggae to funk. As I write, the game’s soundtrack serenades me, distracting me from finishing this review on time. Suffice it to say, the music must be heard to be believed. It is simply amazing composition, even for non-hip-hop fans.
One thing I love about PaRappa the Rapper is its brevity. It’s just shy of forty minutes, making it a quick, simple game. When you complete the game, you can go back and replay any of the stages via stage select. There are also curious Easter eggs located throughout the stages, both visually and lyrically. So, brevity, stage select, and Easter eggs are good incentive to replay the game, given everything else I’ve said thus far.