Hidden Gems #X: Um Jammer Lammy (PS1 Classic; vastly superior spin-off sequel to Parappa The Rapper)

xandermartin98
Now, let me just get this out of the way right now: if you call yourself a Parappa The Rapper fan and haven't played this game yet, you honestly have no idea what you are missing out on. With all due respect, this game is the absolute crowning achievement of its series; I really shouldn't have to explain why, but here we go anyway.

Alright, so basically, the plot begins and ends in pretty much the same fashion as PTR, but everything else in-between is wildly different, not to mention a lot weirder and funnier than the first game...well, at least, when you're playing as Lammy, that is. While you can technically unlock Parappa as a playable character after beating the game for the first time, his storyline is entirely uneventful and was very obviously just shoehorned into the game for the sake of padding out the soundtrack with rap versions of all of the main songs.

Instead of pulling the old "short, stout and incredibly, adorably brave rapper boy saves the incredibly mundane day" that the first game did, this game goes for more of the exact polar opposite, with a tall, thin and incredibly, adorably shy (not to mention HOT) guitarist girl named Lammy saving just about the weirdest day of her entire life.

Over the course of the game, Lammy recieves mental guidance from an anthropomorphic karate-instructor onion that is also a dirty hobo, puts out a skyscraper-class building fire with naught but a single measly fire hose, singlehandedly calms down another entire building full of babies, reteaches a mentally disabled war veteran with severe split-personality disorder how to fly an airplane using its violently disembodied flight lever, carves a fully functional and perfectly shapen wooden electric guitar out of a tree with a chainsaw, and last but not least, literally goes to hell and back...all just to get to her next concert on time. (Oh, and did I mention that she can use literally anything as a guitar, from a vaccum cleaner to fire hose to a baby to an airplane flight stick and even a flipping chainsaw?)

Alright, so just from hearing the overwhelmingly Rocko's-Modern-Life-esque and undeniably guano-insane premise of this game alone, you're probably already wanting to run straight to the PSN store and buy it like a fat kid buying chocolate...but WAIT! THERE'S MORE! I haven't even covered the actual GAME yet, for crying out loud!

Infinitely weirder and funnier premise and characters (and ridiculously hyperactive, clearly LSD-induced visual effects) aside, however...well, even I can admit that at first glance, it's pretty easy to dismiss this game as nothing more than the girls' version of the original Parappa...which, on a basic thematic level, I can totally agree with, but if you're saying that about the actual game itself, then you are DEAD wrong for quite a few reasons.

For one thing, the gameplay is overall much easier this time, yes...but only because the note-hitting detection is a lot more (or should I say, closer to) reliable this time around, meaning that the game is based more around the actual skill of the player as opposed to the blind luck and guesswork that almost constantly plagued the original Parappa throughout mostly every stage. The sheer number of notes you're going to be having to hit throughout the game, however, makes that of the original Parappa look even more laughable than it already is when you compare the overall note-charting of the two. In other words, if Parappa was as well-made as this game is, it would have undoubtedly been the much easier game of the two, to say the least.

The overall number of levels feels about the same (seven, to be exact), but the fact that you get to play through the whole game as both Lammy and Parappa roughly doubles the overall length to 13 songs, giving the game a certain "bang for your buck" value that the original game simply never had.

And this game is by no means one of those clich├ęd "girls only" affairs like Frozen or Insert Random Chick Flick Here; in fact, I'm pretty sure that for the most part, guys would overall enjoy it vastly more than girls would, for reasons including but not limited to the fact that the music is ironically vastly manlier this time around than it was before, with the game in general feeling like it was made for a much more cool, hip and teenaged audience than the first one (and thankfully in the good old 90s kind of way like what you saw in Hey Arnold and Rocko's Modern Life, not the god-awful Tumblr-adjustment kind of way like what happened with Ghostbusters 2016 and arguably The Force Awakens).

As opposed to rapping (which you can still do to your heart's content as Parappa, obviously), you now get to strike all kinds of badarse power chords on your electric rock'n'roll guitar, and to top it off, the soundtrack has been specifically tailor-made to fit the overall genre shift from hip-hop to rock (and even back again, somehow) as mind-blowingly perfectly as possible.

Granted, the game's soundtrack is still incredibly cheesy and is certainly not as memorable, per se, as the first one's, but there are still some real musical gems here, with "Baby Baby" and "Fright Flight" standing out in particular for the fact that (judging from how they sound in their Lammy guitar renditions) the former sounds almost just like a classic Beatles song, while the latter sounds like something right off one of Weird Al's modern-day albums.

Graphically, you're in a real heap of luck here if you were expecting this game to look even remotely like a lot of the other horrifically outdated visual travesties flooding the PS1's game library (Crash Bandicoot 1, Final Fantasy VII, Tomb Raider, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera), because unlike those games, Um Jammer Lammy not only has its own remarkably distinct art style, but also one that looks absolutely gorgeous and breathes all kinds of fabulously colorful and hilariously cartoonish life and personality far beyond most non-Japanese (and non-stoned) people's wildest dreams into the already weird, wacky and charming game to create quite possibly the all-time greatest usage of Paper Mario's artstyle outside of the actual Paper Mario series itself...which by the way, need I mention that Parappa and Lammy both came out before Paper Mario did?

All in all, this game is absolutely hilarious (when you're playing as Lammy, at least), is so wonderfully weird and bizarre that it even makes the original Parappa look like a relatively normal game by comparison, has arguably an even better soundtrack, fine-tunes the gameplay so that it isn't quite so unbearably frustrating anymore, features a vastly stronger and more interesting lead character with a way funnier and more creative storyline to boot, looks a lot nicer than the original, has roughly twice the number of levels, is overall just a much more complete package...and even features multiplayer (that you should never play with the CPU, unfortunately enough).

And best of all, it even promotes girl power by having Lammy be simultaneously one of the most adorable and also secretly one of the absolute most badarse chicks that one could ever hope to meet; basically, just imagine if Alphys from Undertale was even hotter and played guitar.

Overall, the game would easily get at least an 8 out of 10 just for that alone, but honestly, when I consider everything else that this game also has to offer, epsecially for what it is (after all, the game is only about an hour-and-a-half long even when you combine both of its main story-mode campaigns together), I would even more easily give it at least a 9.5, if not 10 out of 10.

In conclusion, the only thing that could make this game better is if they would let you play it with an actual Guitar Hero controller on home consoles. (Well, you know, and also if Sony actually bothered to remake/remaster it and/or give it at least a relatively worthy sequel like they did with Parappa, but despite Um Jammer Lammy actually being a vastly better game than its original male counterpart, we all sadly know that that's never going to happen...sigh...)

Comments

This game (as well as Pappa the Rapper 1 & 2) was the s*** when I was a kid. It was so weird but had some amazing songs. It was fun and the Onion Dojo guy always scared me as a kid. I don't know something about his face was kind of creepy. - cjWriter1997

On a scale of 1 to 10-finity and beyond

How much did this game make you want to snuggle Lammy - xandermartin98

0. I was like 6 years old lol - cjWriter1997

Please note that my score for this game was INTENTIONALLY exaggerated for comedic effect.

For its time, this game certainly WOULD be a 9.5 in my opinion,
but by today's standards it's an 8.5 (PSN version is STILL incredibly difficult to play) - xandermartin98

(correction: technically, if you add up the 8, 9.5 and 10 scores from the actual review together into a grand total of 27.5 and then divide that number by 3, it turns out that I actually gave the game a 9.1 out of 10, which is quite honestly an absolutely perfect score for this) - xandermartin98

One last thing; if you have a Vita, get this downloaded onto it

(The original version would still technically be way better, but zi digress) - xandermartin98

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