Rhythm Game Series Review: Parappa The Rapper (Part 2 besides Um Jammer Lammy)

xandermartin98 Rhythm Game Series Review: Parappa The Rapper (Part 2 besides Um Jammer Lammy)

It was 2001, literally half a decade after the first Parappa The Rapper game on Playstation One. Though it might not have really seemed like it prior to earth-shattering masterpieces like Metroid Prime and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, times had already begun to change greatly for gaming. As you hopefully very well know by now, it was in some ways for the better and in some ways for the worse...but then there are the all-too-many games that don’t even TRY to embrace the positive side of video game evolution and actually CHANGE themselves in a way that ISN’T completely and utterly superficial (as much as I personally hate to admit it, I am most definitely looking at YOU right now, Nintendo).

Such was unfortunately the case with said year’s so-called “next generation” Playstation 2 remake sequel to Parappa The Rapper, which was rather embarrassingly put out in stores for the exact same ludicrously exorbitant price as the first one, and was only a few minutes longer than its predecessors, and had CONSIDERABLY less features than Um Jammer Lammy before it, and was WAY too easy even on black-hat playthroughs, and (blah, blah, blah, blah, blah)...

Anyway, let’s whine about critically analyze how much of a disappointment this game truly was as a sequel (despite still being vastly better than the first game regardless), shall we?


STORY: One day in Parappa Town, Parappa’s dad wins the local lottery and recieves a lifetime supply of noodles as his reward. Long story short, Parappa is forced to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day as a result; when he finally gets so sick of them that he actually violently snaps when his girlfriend Sunny (see, Parappa, I TOLD you you should have picked Lammy while you had the chance) attempts to also serve yet ANOTHER plate of them to him as his romantic dinner with her, causing her to very insensitively call him a “baby”.

Taking a completely unreasonable amount of offense to this, Parappa goes to the local burger shop and is hired for volunteer work in its kitchen by the lingering spirit of an old Scandinavian man with a literal fetish FOR hamburgers, then goes home with his anthro-teddy-bear best friend, PJ, and watches a show in which Chop Chop Master Onion, now wearing a glittery red tracksuit, teaches the two of them how to perform “Romantic Karate” on each other (speaking of the “undercover prostitute” business) while Parappa’s and Sunny’s accidentally shrunken fathers watch in horror…

then everyone else in the general vicinity (now including Lammy and Katy from Um Jammer Lammy, just to remind veteran players of how much better of a sequel that game actually was than this one) also gets shrunk as well, inspiring the local six-armed hippie stoner known as Guru Ant to give Parappa a musical smooth jazz pep-talk that culminates (TWICE) in the two of them suddenly growing bigger than the Earth itself and inexplicably gaining the ability to breathe in space…

And then Parappa, hearing about how the son of the insane Scandinavian burger chef from earlier is actually an equally insane terrorist named Colonel Noodle who wants to literally turn the entire world into noodles (bear with me here), goes to the local military boot camp with PJ, where the two of them meet the rollerskating, tutu-wearing, military-suited sister of the Mussolini moose from the first game…

And then, after being trained into tip-top military shape BY said sister, the two of them head over to the local barber shop, where an incredibly disturbingly designed character named Cathy Pillar Hairdresser Octopus is busy turning everyone’s HAIR into noodles (come on, just bear with me), talking with an absurdly, actually quite offensively thick “gay Mexican” accent and having a demented split personality that runs around madly with scissors like a total lunatic…

and then, after finally curing the Milkcan trio (Lammy, Katy and Ma-San, of course, just in case you weren’t already missing UJL enough yet) of their surprisingly fashionable cases of Marge-Simpson-noodle-afro-itis, Parappa and PJ decide to drag the entire Milkcan trio AND Parappa’s and Sunny’s dads along with them into the basement of Parappa’s house so that they can unearth an ancient recently-invented device that requires one of them (go ahead, GUESS which one) to briefly but still incredibly bizarrely go inside a video game INSIDE OF THE VIDEO GAME THAT THE GAME IS REPRESENTING) in order to cure the world of...SIGH...noodle-itis.

After engaging in a ridiculously overblown “noodles versus sweets” war, infiltrating Colonel Noodle’s base and settling his food taste differences with the poor bastard in a shockingly epic rap battle that’s literally the only time he’s EVER actually made his own lyrics in the entire series thus far...Parappa simply goes out on a picnic with Colonel Noodle, and then throws yet ANOTHER undeservedly massive music party with the exact same Jamaican spider from before, and then he wins a lifetime supply of cheese...and, well, that’s it, the end.

Still an infinitely better storyline than those of the previous games, but it ultimately just feels like it’s trying way too hard to recapture the type of hilariously random and demented feel that Um Jammer Lammy had to it, and just isn’t quite able to pull it off. To give it credit where credit is due, however, the actual humor DOES at least somewhat rely on actual jokes this time around rather than just pure absurdist ridiculousness like in its Playstation One predecessors.

GRAPHICS: Really just the exact same ones as before, but with a new coat of slightly-next-generation (compared to PS1 graphics, at least) paint that gets the job done but is really nowhere near as shiny as it SHOULD be. It still looks really nice, don’t get me wrong, but after seeing some of the mind-bendingly extreme visual effects displayed in Um Jammer Lammy’s cutscenes, for instance, I know for a fact that a LOT more work could have been done here.

SOUND: Yet another soundtrack that clearly has WAY more going for it than that of the first game, but is still sadly overshadowed by that of the first game regardless. While it doesn’t quite fully capture the classic, quintessentially 90s “so cheesy it’s awesome” feel of its predecessors, the entire soundtrack to this game is purely the definition of “groovy”, without even mentioning Guru Ant’s absolutely SPECTACULAR performance from Stage 3; just to put the icing on the cake that the game’s final level quite literally takes place on top of, this game’s soundtrack also had quite a few legitimately professional rappers from the real world working on it as well, with truly great dedication at that, and boy does it show. Objectively, this game’s soundtrack is almost even BETTER than Lammy’s, believe it or not. And if you know ME, you KNOW I have to applaud it for such an underratedly and just downright under-appreciatedly amazing feat.

GAMEPLAY: While the charm of its predecessors may have been COMPLETELY lost on this game altogether, the gameplay is simply top-notch...well, at surface level, anyway. The way that the game grades your performances in songs is shown MUCH more clearly this time around, and more importantly, the input lag has been completely removed, meaning that the game actually consistently REWARDS you for playing it properly as opposed to improperly like in the previous ones. Granted, this certainly does make the game unbelievably too easy and also strip away mostly all of the game’s room for freestyling experimentation in the process, but overall, it’s a welcome and refreshing change. What ISN’T, however, is the removal of numerous gameplay features from the previous game.

Personally, I’m glad that the whole “forcing player to painfully, tediously slog his/her way through every single one of the computer-controlled multiplayer modes in order to achieve 100% completion” bollocks from Um Jammer Lammy has been replaced by “Parappa’s hat color changes with each playthrough, thus making the core game naturally rather than artificially more difficult” in this game, but literally every other thing that got removed should NOT have been.

Speaking of UJL’s multiplayer modes, not a single ONE of them is even available for local human-versus-human multiplayer (reducing the multiplayer into literally just repeatedly playing single selected lines of songs over and over and over and over and OVER again until basically the end of time with each other), and worse yet, THEY EVEN REMOVED THE ALTERNATE-CHARACTER MODE FOR SINGLEPLAYER.

Seriously, if UJL allowed players to alternately play as Parappa, WHY in the literal hell (take note of that) couldn’t this game also do the same for Lammy? Within the course of literally ONE single game, Nana-On-Sha has effectively reduced the single best character in the entire franchise into a worthless background puppet with literally no relevance to the game besides providing backing guitar for a few (not even all, just a measly FEW) of the songs. It’s just absolutely pathetic, and the developers should honestly be ashamed of themselves for effectively cutting this game’s already stupidly small amount of content in HALF.

With all of that being said however…

OVERALL: While it may completely lack the charm, memorability (for the most part) and innovation factor of both of its predecessors, and while it may especially be nowhere even NEAR as good as Um Jammer Lammy (despite being an ACTUAL NUMBERED SEQUEL on a next-gen console as opposed to a previous-gen alternate-character-perspective spinoff masquerading AS one), Parappa The Rapper 2, for what it’s worth (seriously, do NOT pay the full retail price for it unless you’re completely insane or have nothing better to do with your money), is still a very fun and charming (albeit not so much compared to the previous games) romp that undoubtedly plays the smoothest of the three and has almost just as incredible of a soundtrack (and cutscene selection, let’s not forget that) as the game before it. In conclusion, 7.5/10


Overall, it turns out Parappa/Lammy is a roughly 7.5/10 series of games so far

(ironically only 0.3 points lower than the Earthbound series...still doesn't make UJL any less great though) - xandermartin98