For those of you living under a rock, Parappa The Rapper is definitely one of the quirkiest games on the market. You don't shoot anyone, drive over anyone, hurricane kick anyone, fatality anyone.... So what's the appeal? Well, you are Parrapa, a little colorform dog who is trying to win the heart of his favorite girl, Sunny Funny the Sunflower. The only way to do this it seems, is for Parappa to become a Hip Hop Hero by rapping his way into her heart. But Parappa isn't a natural born talent, because he has an idiot like you rapping for him. So, if you stink, Parappa goes home alone. That's why there are teachers, who help you/Parappa get your act together.
Describing this work of art, is no easy task. From the beginning the music grabs you and sucks you in. It's so poppy and strange that you can't help but instantly like it, although you may not know why. Each stage is preceded by an animated intro that has to be seen to be appreciated. For example, the game starts with Parappa and pals watching a JetBaby movie. (I couldn't get the tune of JetBaby out of my head for weeks and it's only a song in the animated intro!!) After the movie they go to the soda shop where they encounter some toughs. Soon a local hero/celebrity (Joe Chin) shows up to thwart the bad guys. Parappa sees that Sunny is impressed by Joe Chin, and decides to become a hero himself. So, like any smart animated colorform hiphop rapping touque wearing dog, he signs himself for kung fu lessons with Master Chop Chop, an onion headed instructor. And thus begins your first level.
The gameplay is broken down into a fairly simplistic mechanic. Each button on the PSX controller, corresponds to a different rap move, noise, word or phrase. When your instructor raps, hints as to which button to press is shown at the top of the screen, as is the rhythm of the rap. At first Master Chop Chop starts off with simple 1 button commands, but by the end of the level he'll be barking out 4 button commands that will have your fingers feverishly racing over the controller. If you rap well and rhythmically you will be rewarded with points. If you blow, then not only will you not earn any points, you may LOSE points. As well, you'll hear the distinct sound of a duck honking while, the music begins to sound horrible. If you are REALLY bad, the instructor just stops the whole nightmare and tells you to start again. A meter at the bottom of the screen lets you know if you are rappin: Cool, Good, Fine and Awful. It is important to note that the first time through a level, you will only be able to rap at the GOOD level, no matter how awesome you are. Once you have completed that level and saved your progress, you may return to the stage and try your hand at rapping COOL. If you rap Cool for awhile you will be rewarded with your teacher leaving, so you can rap "freestyle." If you start sucking, your instructor comes back to rub your nose in it.
The games one tiny, fault is that sometimes you are awarded points for simply button tapping as fast as possible. I'm nitpicking now, but it's something that maybe will be addressed in Parappa 2. Maybe the sequel could have a lot more killing and bloodshed as well. :)
I don't want to reveal too much about this game, because the enjoyment of it is in the whole package. But be prepared to rap against your former teachers just so you get into the washroom to do your business. This is how "out-there" this game is. Definitely very Japanese.
Everything about this game is top notch. I guarantee you, you will not get these tunes out of your head for a long time. This game has wide spread appeal that will entertain young and old. I bought this game for my wife who dislikes video games very much, but she loves Parappa. It's an odd sight to see her sitting there with a PlayStation controller in her hand.
Teenagers who are drooling for Resident Evil 2, may not appreciate getting Parappa instead, but I bet you they'd play it. And like it. So if you are sick of the same old games, that have you doing the same old things and you don't buy Parappa the Rapper, then you are sending a message to the videogame companies that says, "Keep slagging your tired, unimaginative Doom Clones on me!". Take a chance on this inventive, risky video game. "You've gotta believe!" Okay that's a rap.