Sunday, June 28, 2009

Parappa the Rapper Review

Sorry about the long post time. Computer problems and laziness caused this.

Usually when people play or review sequels of video games, they always tend to gauge on how well it stacked up to its predecessor, which always leads to lower scores. The purists of a franchise tend to hate sequels (even though they are the reason developers make these), while first-timers are pleased to play an improved version of a series. But more often than not, a sequel falls flat on its face in terms of… well, overall quality.
Personally, the game I’m about to review, Parappa the Rapper 2, was on my ‘please get’ list, since I couldn’t find a copy in four years. Since I never played the original, and I don’t have a PSP, I decided to just get the sequel. Even though I’ve read forum topics that have said the second game is very inferior to the first, I shrugged those feelings off. No harm done, right?
Unfortunately, even without playing the original, this game is pretty disappointing. The game starts off with a rapping puppy named Parappa that just won a lifetime supply of noodles, which in turn, makes him sick of eating them. However, due to a recent diva tantrum at his girlfriend Sunny’s house, his maturity is questioned, and he must prove that he’s become a man. He also needs to stop the town from becoming victim to a noodle syndicate. The story is pretty crazy, but it’s kind of sub-par when it compares to recent fare, like Space Channel 5, or Katamari Damacy (yeah, these games came out after Parappa 2, but still…)
Gameplay is in the simple department. During a stage, Parappa will be doing a task with his rapping teacher (a spirit of a restaurant owner, an instructing cow, an ant, etc.). As the teacher raps, buttons will be corresponding with some of the words, which in turn, the player must imitate. If Parappa does not follow the line, the meter at the bottom-left hand of the screen turns from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ to ‘awful’, and after that will end the game. The player needs to get at least a good rating to move on. This scheme can get pretty easy, as one could just line up button presses with the layout.

However, in order to get the highest rating, ‘cool’, and thus allowing even more freedom to the player, he or she must improvise the line to make it sound better. For example, if the line is “cook those burgers,”, a player could manipulate the presses to say “ cook, cook, burgers, cook cook those burgers.” It sounds nice on paper, but this is the main flaw of the game. Sometimes I would make a perfectly good rhyme and the computer wouldn’t register it, but I could make a terrible sentence that sounded like a castrated cat and it would give me full points. However, the reason I’m really docking points for this one is because of the fact that even perfectly following the right phrases would be incorrect. I don’t mind losing points for being creative, but when I lose points for following the directions, I’ll get ticked.

There's also a versus mode that's pretty petty in terms of depth.
The music isn’t half-bad, but that means it’s only half-good. Some of them are upbeat and exciting, while some of them are mellow and quiet. They range from all different styles of rap, from a little upbeat pop rap of the military instructor to the reggae tones of the octopus (thing) barber. They all have distinct styles, but are kind of… common. Of the eight tracks that are in the game, I only really liked four of them, and while I did play through all of them, I only found three that were really memorable.
While it is fun to play for a couple of hours, it’ll be just that- a couple of hours. There are eight songs to choose from, and you’ll have to beat the game four times to experience everything, but after that, there’s not much there. True, I’ll put it away and then play it again, but I’d rather be satisfied that I finished it and wait for a month to eagerly play it again. While I do repeat some of the lyrics from time to time, it’s not something I’m going to remember for a long time.
If you’re looking for original zany gameplay that has top notch weirdness, you could try this game. However, if you’re looking for something that will eat your time up, I suggest picking up a copy of Katamari Damacy or the original Parappa (so I’ve heard).

Score: 6/10
P.S. Watch out for Space Channel 5 (in rememberance of Michael Jackson...)

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