Parappa the Rapper
Kick, punch, it's all in the mind, some PSP owners will find this quite a find...
"I gotta believe!" Before Naruto could ever utter those words out of any words in a ninja academy, they were phrased by the hip-hopping rapper wanna-be Parappa. Years ago, Sony released Parappa the Rapper for the PlayStation console, and it became a huge underground hit. Parappa's adventures continued in a sequel for the PS2, but since that time we haven't really seen that much of the up-and-coming rap star. Sony has since changed that by releasing a PSP port of the game in Japan, which has its fair share of features and is a suitable experience for the handheld.
Let's fill you in on the backstory. The game lets you control Parappa as he eventually learns how to become a rapping master. He's trying to gain the confidence and power to talk to his friend, a happy girl named Sunny. Of course, complexity comes into play with a number of oppositions, including a school jerk that's full of himself and Parappa's genuine lack of rhythm. Over various stages, Parappa will learn his stylings in the form of push-button music stages.
The gameplay's relatively simple. The computer goes first, showing you the rhythm that has to be followed with button presses. From there, the player has to hit the buttons in succession in order to keep "Rappin' GOOD!". If the player slips up too often, they'll drop down to "Rappin' bad" and eventually "Rappin' awful!", which will require them to start the stage over again. The stages vary pretty wildly, from a Julia Child-like chicken to a karate-chopping dojo master with an onion for a head. The driving instructor's pretty delightful, too, even if she...forgot...to close...the door.
The good news is that the game retains most of its good vibes from the PlayStation original. The visuals look excellent on the PSP widescreen display, complete with sharp 2-D cel animation and cute little details, some of which can unfold over the course of each stage depending on the player's progression level. The original music is awesome enough as it is, but Sony has also provided the option to download some remixes of the original tunes to give fans a little something extra.
However, the game isn't without its problems. Number one, there's only so many stages to complete in order to get to the end. Secondly, the timing seems to be a little bit off, and some players may find themselves frustratingly starting a stage over and over again until they get the precision timing down pat. Last but not least, the remixed tunes can take quite a while to download...players can find them at http://www.jp.playstation.com/scej/title/parappa/top.html.
Fortunately, these flaws are made up for with accessibility and multiplayer. The game is easily readable in English with a switch in the options menu (upper left side of the screen is where you'll find it), and the game supports four-player Wi-Fi mulitplayer and game sharing. Granted, players will have to own individual copies of the game, but them's the breaks.
Parappa the Rapper isn't for everyone. There's no bonus stages to find here, so if you beat the first game easily there's very little to come back for (aside from song remixes and multiplayer). But if you're a fan, you gotta believe that this is the game to take with you on the go. "Step on the GAS!"
What's Hot: Solid port of the PS1 classic; some nice remixed tunes, multiplayer options are spiffy.
What's Not: Nothing relatively new; some timing issues may throw people off.