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Revisiting Parappa the Rapper

Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind.
If you want to test me, I’m sure you’ll find
The things I’ll teach ya, is sure to beat ya
Nevertheless you’ll get a lesson from teacher, now.

Are these lyrics ingrained in your head as they are mine? If so, hello fellow 90s baby and welcome to a recap of one of the freshest, most fun games in all of video gaming. Parappa the Rapper was a video gamey video game. It was weird, it was fun, it was silly, and it was memorable. Just having one of those things to your name as a game would be wonderful. Considering Parappa the Rapper has all of them should really tell you something about the quality of the game (and how much I might have enjoyed it).

For the unfamiliar, Parappa the Rapper is a musical rhythm game that has you matching button presses to the beat. But unlike Dance Dance Revolution or Rock Band you’re not “dancing” or “performing” in the band. Instead you’re matching button presses to rap with your mentor on each stage. Hitting the correct buttons in time with the music will allow Parappa to sing correctly and gain the favor of the, I don’t know, groove meter which determines your performance on said stage. It wouldn’t be a rap game if you couldn’t freestyle, and so long as you hit the correct button in time when needed, you can press other buttons between those moments to freestyle rap some words. It’s honestly pretty fun, and a special part of the game that makes it stand out from other rhythm games: you’re encouraged to freestyle and make it fun and different as you go!

Undoubtedly the most memorable thing about Parappa has to be the music. If a rhythm game is known for anything, having it be the songs is quite the compliment. Accompanying each song is an instructor who not only leads you in the gameplay, but also sings half of the song. Standouts to me include Chop-Chop Master Onion from the very first song (arguably the most memorable), as well as the Jamaican frog Prince Fleaswallow. Each song samples a different genre of music, a different beat, and a different approach to the button inputs. Catchy tunes will be in your head for days, months, or maybe even years. My only real complaint with the game is how short it is, and how few songs there may be. Granted, each song is a banger, but sadly it’s over very soon.

Worth noting are the game’s odd visuals. It’s a combination of 2D character models, highly exaggerated backgrounds and stages, and very bright pastel colors. This gives the game a very one of a kind look, which is likely very hit or miss for players. For me, it’s a big hit: the game looks like nothing else on the console, and matching that with the fun gameplay gives the game the final bit of polish it needs to really stand out on the system.

Despite being one of the better Playstation games, Parappa the Rapper didn’t get a lot of longevity over the years. A pseudo-sequel called Um Jammer Lammy (which we’ll get to a bit later) featured more refined gameplay on the PS1, and then a direct sequel released on the Playstation 2 five years after the original, and remains the last entry in the series. While the series saw great reviews and good sales, it hasn’t been heard of since. Parappa had some additional time in the limelight, with an animated TV show in the early 2000s, as well as an appearance in the Smash clone Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. When gamers think of the Playstation brand, and potential mascots, these days they tend to go with Kratos, or Nathan Drake, or Crash Bandicoot, or hell even Spyro. But how could we forget Parappa, with his trio of Playstation exclusive games, all received well, and all likely better than the last?

Here’s hoping we finally get a Parappa the Rapper 3. I could see the game doing very well these days, with it’s zany attitude and aesthetic, simple and approachable gameplay, and earworm style of music. I believe the team that made the series, Nana-On Sha, as well as series creator, director, and composer Masaya Matsuura, are still making games, but they haven’t released anything for several years now. If we have to wait a bit longer for a Parappa 3, I’ll happily sit by listening to the same music and having the biggest smile on my face.

I Gotta Believe!


I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.