Um Jammer Lammy: An Afterthought

How many times have you played and completed a game, and thought “Wow, I cannot wait for the sequel?”, only to find out the sequel is years away, or worse yet, there might not even be a sequel in the works. That was the case for me with PS1 classic rhythm game Parappa the Rapper: the PS1 game was amazingly fun, and then the PS2 game came out about 5 years later. Little did I know, there was another game from the same team, featuring the same style of gameplay, and dammit all even featuring Parappa himself as an ulockable playable character, complete with his own story and song variations! Enter Um Jammer Lammy.

The signs were on the wall from the very beginning: the US box art showcases a unique duo of characters but with the unmistakable aesthetic of Parappa the Rapper. Ad campaigns at the time even drew the comparison to the two (I feel like I can remember seeing the pages in GamePro as I am writing this). However and perhaps in spite of all this, I did that thing society makes you do when you are young and looked at the game as a “Girls” game and completely passed on it. This is, in fact, not a girls game, because such a thing does not exist. Instead, this is a solid and comparable rhythm game to its predecessor.

Um Jammer Lammy – Fire Fire!!

Perhaps most notable though, this is not the exact same type of game as Parappa the Rapper. It features the same style of gameplay, in that you’ll match the rhythm presented to you on screen and the better you time your button presses the better Lammy and her bad sound. However, since you’re not rapping, instead of hearing words spoken with each press, you’ll hear guitar riffs and lyrics combined. What I liked most was the move to make the gameplay match the instruments: there’s a lot of “Riffs” that are quick and repeated, kind of like how they’d be on the guitar. Though the same in general to Parappa, Lammy sets itself apart by offering an ever so slightly different approach to the gameplay, while still perfecting that formula you’d come to expect.

As with any rhythm game, the music plays a huge part of the entire experience. Um Jammer Lammy delivers in this department, offering up a short list of varied tunes. Casual power chords play typical pop rock anthems, and faster paced aggressive riffs really hammer down you’re playing the guitar and not just rapping. While some input delay hampered the modern experience, it was still a satisfying feat to complete a song and really feel like you hit all those notes. Baby Baby!! in particular (the third stage) was a major win, as that was the first stage that felt truly different from Parappa as well as actually difficult to perform. But I appreciated the challenge and looked forward to discovering more the game had to offer.

And what I discovered, after about an hour with the games and after the end credits rolled, was none other than Parappa himself! After completing Um Jammer Lammy for the first time, you’ll unlock a Parappa mode, in which there is a tangential story that follows Lammy’s storyline, but from Parappa and friend’s perspective. Instead of getting 7 new songs, you instead have the same songs, but with altered lyrics and patterns, set to the rapping skills of Parappa. It was a wonderful addition to the game, and essentially doubled the replay value of the game. In addition to this, a “Vs. Mode” is unlocked after you complete a stage, where you square off against another Lammy in a head-to-head battle. Should you win that, another special option opens up, where both Lammy AND Parappa are on stage! Though I was not able to unlock this mode, it seems like a great achievement and something really rewarding for those how dedicate the time to Um Jammer Lammy’s intricacies.

At the end of my time with the game, I really felt like this was Parappa the Rapper 1.5. But as much as I’ve talked about Parappa in this write up about Um Jammer Lammy, I think the game is still uniquely different. This is Lammy’s game, with an altered approach to the rhythm gameplay of that first game. While it is undoubtedly cool that Parappa is here, it’s very much worth pointing out Lammy can hold her own. I think I see these two games now as the opposite side of the same coin: Parappa the Rapper is kind of basic in comparison, and Um Jammer Lammy showcases the developers having more time with the system and developing something that feels more satisfying to actually play. Combining them together (which quite literally happens in this game) and you can see a classic Playstation series that doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves.


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– Jason J

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