Rhythm Game Series Review: Parappa The Rapper (Part 1 besides Um Jammer Lammy)

xandermartin98 Rhythm Game Series Review: Parappa The Rapper (Part 1 besides Um Jammer Lammy)

Ah, Parappa The Rapper... truly one of if not THE most criminally overrated underrated meme video game cancers franchises to ever exist, along with Super Smash Bros and the legendary Earthbound / Undertale saga that I covered in my previous review.

To say the least, this series (or at least the first game of it) is an unbelievably iconic milestone in both the Playstation mascot lineup and historical video game pop culture in general, being essentially the first full-fledged, fully (over)blown (by critics), triple-A-levels-of-hyped rhythm game to hit consoles as well as a rather (ahem) suspiciously direct art-style precursor to Nintendo's infamously has-been Paper Mario series...so of course, the question most people of today's generation immediately ask about it upon hearing so much ludicrously (pun intended) radiant praise for it is this: Has the first game really held up as well as the media watchdogs ( both puns intended) claim? More importantly, is it really even the best game of its trilogy, let alone the only good one? Is it really worthy of Sony even going as far as to charge a solid FIFTEEN flipping dollars for it on Playstation Network while Um Jammer Lammy, a game with literally TWICE as much content and substance, only costs about SIX on average?

Well, to put it simply, the answers to each of those questions are exactly as follows, and I quote: NO, NO, and did I mention NO!

Anyway, let's get this review started so that I can go into a bit more detail in explaining why I happen to have this particular sentiment about this classic trio of games, shall we? Starting review in three...two...one...CHEESIEST GAME EVER, LAWL!


STORY: Is certainly quite a bit more existent here than it was in Um Jammer Lammy, don't get me wrong, but that's honestly like saying that this game's cultural relevance is more existent nowadays (outside of Tumblr) than UJL's Christianity is more existent than Scientology (LAWL, YOU MAD BRAH?).

Anyway, when your game has literally no story, it all comes down to how much fun the general things that happen throughout the game are to watch, and in this department most especially, this game is an absolute joke in comparison to both of its sequels. Whereas Um Jammer Lammy, just to name a PARTICULARLY extreme example of classic Japanese video game weirdness, benefits greatly from (its main campaign, just to shamelessly rub in this game’s face how much more gameplay content UJL has compared to it) having a downright hilariously over-the-top, nonsensical and action-packed storyline that copies the Rocko's Modern Life book on LOL-so-random humor page-for-page and word-for-word, right down to the shockingly relatable (and ridiculously adorable) main character…

well, for lack of a more accurate way of describing it, this game’s storyline is basically what happened when the (ahem) clinically insane stoners writers behind UJL’s indescribably demented, sugar-coated acid trip of a Season One Rocko’s Modern Life episode main storyline decided to literally only borrow the parts of the classic Rocko formula that were most reminiscent of Doug (read: the most mind-numbingly bland and boring parts), resulting in a largely snore-inducing slice-of-life borefest that ultimately just makes me wish I was watching the other show playing the other game instead.

Basically, Parappa is a young teenage puppy rapper who falls madly in love with a cute little flower girl named Sunny Funny ( Doug cliches number One and Two) and gets bullied for it by the local “brainless jock” stereotypes ( Doug cliche number Three), requiring him to face his fears and prove his worth to the local rich spoiled brat, gratuitously blatant superhero spoof and heavily implied undercover prostitute known as Joe Chin (cartoon cliches number 400-402)...how, you may ask? Oh, please, that’s simple.

Why, of course, he does it by learning lyrical karate from an anthropomorphic Chinese ninja onion named Chop Chop, getting his driver’s license from a stereotypically Cajun moose-lady who works as a policewoman in her spare time and is rather unsubtly named after Benito Mussolini, then crashing his father’s car almost immediately thereafter (which, to be fair, does actually happen to most teenagers)...

then working a volunteer shift at a local flea market run by Parappa Town’s number-one biggest hippie and stoner (and frog), who goes by the name of Prince Fleaswallow, and winning himself a brand new car in the process... then messing up his cake and being forced to attend a poor man’s (more specifically chicken lady’s) equivalent to the Martha Stewart show in order to make himself a new one... then getting horribly constipated during the sunset portion of his car ride with Sunny due to said replacement cake being seafood -flavored and ending up having to win a rap battle with all four of the teachers from his previous misadventures in order to get himself the first chance at using the local gas station’s only restroom…

then finally meeting up with Sunny’s dad (who, by the way, is a literal pothead, just in case you were wondering) and arranging a great big rap party for her entertainment, of which the lead host is a giant, fat and purple Jamaican spider with dreadlocks, red-green-and-yellow headwear, goofy sunglasses and everything.

Not a bad storyline for what the game is, don’t get me wrong, but exactly how so many reviewers manage to unironically claim it as more entertaining and interesting than the main portion of the Lammy spinoff’s is beyond me. Sorry, but Parappa simply isn’t quite mentally ill (or impossibly hyperactive, or hilariously cowardly, or blatantly transgender) enough of a character for my tastes.

GRAPHICS: Very unique and creative, especially for the time; if you loved the classic “two-dimensional paper cutouts in a three-dimensional world” aesthetic in Paper Mario, you will most likely love it even more here. Best of all, this game doesn’t go completely overboard with the 3D models like its sequels do.

SOUND: Ehh...I know that at the time when this meme game came out, everyone was going completely nuts over hip-hop, rap music and the like, but in my “humble” opinion, this game is honestly the one thing (almost) stopping this franchise from actually deserving its historical place among the top twenty if not top fifteen or quite possibly even top ten video game franchises with the best overall collections of soundtracks. Granted, all of the problems with this game’s music were also present in its sequels, but my God do they especially stand out here.

For starters, while the musical instrumentation of the game’s songs is simply nothing short of ungodly brilliant (and, again, would only continue to be massively improved upon in the sequels), the actual lyrical composition of said songs (OH MY GOD, VIDEO GAME MUSIC THAT HAS LYRICS IN IT, THIS IS SO MIND-BLOWINGLY AMAZING, TEN OUT OF TEN) quite (filthy) frankly makes the Sonic theme songs sound like Bohemian Rhapsody. Hell, even Parappa’s hidden side portion of Um Jammer Lammy had considerably better music than this...and boy-oh-boy howdy, the music from Lammy’s portion of said game is easily just as erection-inducing as the character herself, let’s not mince words here.

In short, it’s still a great soundtrack in terms of how well it overall fits the type of game it’s being used for...but much like literally every other aspect of this game, it’s horrendously outclassed by those of its sequels. Seriously, I mean it for real ; claim literally any song from this game to be as good ( especially in terms of musical production value) as BIG, Fright Flight, Noodles Can’t Be Beat, Millennium Girl, Romantic Love, Keep Your Head Up and literally every other major Lammy song (possibly even Hair Scare from Parappa 2, at least when put into the context of the level that it takes place in) and we just might end up having some seriously divisive issues between us...get it? You know, like what happens to paper when you cut it?

GAMEPLAY: Blech...where do I even begin? The entire game ( particularly in its PSN ports) is nothing but insultingly easy and simplistic note charts made irritatingly difficult by how un-necessarily strict and sloppy the game’s note-hitting detection is. I mean, sure, the freestyling mechanic is pretty cool, but even it sounds like a complete cluster-fornication of random noise when being used with pre-recorded verbal phrases, actively discouraging the player not to use it even though the later ( three) levels outright FORCE him/her to spam it to his/her heart’s content in order to get through them on remastered editions.

Thankfully, the sequels (while admittedly still being ridiculously too short, mind you) gradually fixed this notorious issue over time, with Um Jammer Lammy having considerably better note-hitting detection (and a freestyling system that actually makes the songs sound cooler when playing it in Lammy mode because of the guitar samples) while Parappa 2 outright removed the sync issues altogether.


OVERALL: As I’ve said before, this is a truly classic and immensely innovative game, but still very much a complete overrated turd by today’s standards regardless, as quite a few official reviews of its PS4 remaster have already very openly addressed. Until its Lammy spinoff finally gets at least the same treatment from Sony and hopefully improves the multiplayer AI puts the franchise back into business once and for all, rest assured that this game was objectively a generous 6 out of 10 even for its time.

For the real crowning achievement of the series, click here and be amazed: https://www.thetoptens.com/underrated-video-games/49921.asp

(Don’t worry, guys; there is a Parappa 2 review coming up next, just hold on tight)