PaRappa the Rapper
|PaRappa the Rapper|
Japanese cover art designed by Rodney Greenblat
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
PaRappa the Rapper (パラッパラッパー Parappa Rappā?) is a rhythm video game for the PlayStation created by Masaya Matsuura (the former leader of the Japanese "Hyper Pop Unit" PSY S) and his NanaOn-Sha company. While the gameplay is not challenging for experienced gamers, the game is remembered for its unique graphic design, its quirky soundtrack and its bizarre plot. Despite being made in Japan, all of the game's songs and dialogue are spoken in English in all versions, but the Japanese version just has Japanese subtitles. The game is named after its protagonist, Parappa, a rapping dog with the motto, "I gotta believe!".
The game spawned a merchandising campaign in Japan, a spinoff in 1999, a TV series in 2001, and a direct sequel for PlayStation 2 in the same year. A PlayStation Portable port of the original game was released in Japan and Korea in December 2006 and in North America and Europe in July 2007.
PaRappa the Rapper is a music game in which the main character, Parappa, must make his way through each of the game's six stages by rapping. Each stage constantly alternates between the stage's teacher and Parappa. As the teacher raps, a bar at the top of the screen will appear, showing symbols that match up to the teacher's lyrics. The player must then make Parappa rap in response to the teacher by pressing the buttons with the correct timing to match the teacher's line.
During gameplay, a "U Rappin'" meter determines the player's performance, ranking it as Awful, Bad, Good and Cool. By consistently staying on beat, players will stay in the Good ranking. If the player performs a bad line, a lower ranking will flash, and if the players performs badly twice in a row, he will drop to Bad, followed by Awful. To retain a higher ranking, the player must play well twice in a row to move up a rank. To clear a stage, the player must have a Good ranking by the end of the song. If the player ends the song on a Bad or Awful ranking, or if he drops below Awful ranking at any point in the song, they will fail the song and have to start over. After the game has been cleared once, the player can attempt to achieve a Cool ranking. This is achieved by freestyling in a manner different from the predetermined lyric. If the player performs a successfully impressive freestyle when the Cool rank is flashing, they will enter Cool mode. In this mode, the teacher will leave the stage, allowing the player to rap freely and earn some large points. If the freestyling fails to impress twice in a row, the teacher will return and gameplay will resume in the Good ranking. Ending the stage with a Cool rank often results in a special level ending, and clearing all stages on Cool Mode unlocks a bonus mode featuring Katy Kat and Sunny Funny.
Rank-changing aspects of a level are only apparent during the first of every two lines. If the player successfully times the first line of a pair, but fails on the second, the rank meter will not blink Bad or Awful. Likewise, once the game has been cleared, a Good play is only necessary on the first of every two lines to get a shot at Cool mode on the second line..
The player takes on the role of Parappa, a paper-thin rapping dog, who is trying to win the heart of a flower-like girl named Sunny Funny. However, he is intimidated by the presence of Joe Chin, a rich, narcissistic dog who goes overboard with his attempts to impress Sunny. To impress Sunny Funny, PaRappa learns to fight at a kung-fu dojo, and takes a driver's education course to get his license. However, when he crashes his dad's car, he has to earn money at a flea market to pay for it. When Sunny's birthday comes up, Parappa has to get cake, but ends up ruining it after an encounter with Joe. He makes a new one by watching a cooking show and proceeds to eat a lot of it on the day. When spending some time alone with Sunny, he is suddenly overcome with the need to go to the bathroom and has to rap against his former teachers to get to the front of the queue. Then one night, Parappa is invited to Club Fun, and asks Sunny to go with him, to which she agrees. Parappa then raps on stage with everybody, rapping solo at the end of the song and expressing his feelings for Sunny.
The unique visual style is that of Rodney Greenblat, an American graphic artist who is popular in Japan. Similar to the Paper Mario series by Nintendo, all of the characters appear to be two-dimensional beings cut from paper while the surroundings are primarily three-dimensional. On his website, Greenblat remembers that the idea to make the characters flat was Matsurra's idea, after creating a mock-up with characters from Greenblat's Dazzeloids CD-ROM. While the setting is a bright interpretation of an urban city, the characters range from anthropomorphic animals such as frogs, spiders, and dogs, to lively versions of normally inanimate objects including onions, hammers, and flowers.
PaRappa the Rapper was released for PlayStation Portable in Japan in December 2006 and in North America and Europe in July 2007 for the game's tenth anniversary. It is a port of the original game with an added ad hoc multiplayer mode for up to four players and an ability to download remixed versions of the existing songs. However, it does not fix some of the faults of the previous game, such as missync in lipsync or the rank meter. In conjunction with the PSP release, Sony, for a limited time, freely released the soundtrack for the game through the PSP Fanboy website. In a 2008 Famitsu interview, Masaya Matsuura revealed that a bonus song created for the PSP release, "Believe in Yourself," was cut due to development time constraints. The song featured Parappa training with Chop Chop Master Onion at a Buddhist temple on top of a mountain.
Reception and legacy
PaRappa the Rapper sold 761,621 copies in Japan by 1997, making it the 7th best-selling game of the year in that region. As of 26 December 2004, the original version of the game has sold 937,976 copies in Japan, while its PlayStation the Best re-release has sold 306,261 copies meaning it has sold nearly 1.4 Million copies total.
At the first annual Interactive Achievement Awards in 1998, PaRappa the Rapper won the awards for "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Design" and "Outstanding Achievement in Sound and Music", and was nominated for "Interactive Title of the Year". In the final issue of the Official UK PlayStation Magazine, the game was chosen as the 3rd best game of all time.
The game was featured as a challenge on the videogame show GamesMaster in 1998, where the contestants, a team of two people, were given an extra-large controller to make the game harder. The size of the buttons was that of the palm of a hand. Two sketches based on the game were featured in the Adult Swim show Robot Chicken. The first had Parappa and Master Onion appeal in court over a drug scandal and the second had Parappa working with 50 Cent after winning a rap battle.
Sequels and spin-offs
PaRappa the Rapper is regarded as the first "modern" popular rhythm game. It was followed by a spin-off titled UmJammer Lammy, which was released on 18 March 1999 in Japan. The game featured a new cast of characters, multiplayer modes and focused on guitar play, but very similar game play. A bonus mode was included in which the entire game could be replayed with Parappa as the protagonist, complete with his own versions of the game's stages. An arcade version of the game produced by Namco was also released.
A direct sequel, PaRappa the Rapper 2, was released on 30 August 2001 for the PlayStation 2. The franchise has spawned a large range of merchandising and a children's anime TV series of the same name, which aired on Fuji TV in Japan between April and September 2001.
Parappa also appears as a playable character in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. His play style revolves around using his Karate taught to him by Master Onion as well as moves inspired by his love of music and skateboarding.
Rodney Greenblat, the man responsible for PaRappa's art style, was asked about PaRappa being a playable fighter in PlayStation All-Stars Brawl. Greenblat was happy to see Parappa return to video games, but he was not happy to see him in a violent game. "I’m very happy that Parappa is making a bit of a comeback, but not so happy about him being in a weapon filled battle game. Actually the Battle Royale game is fun, and I have to do what I can to get Parappa back in the game scene. My hope is that Sony realizes the golden true potential of Parappa and asks me to design some new games. I’ve learned a lot, and I think Parappa could be great again," said Greenblat.
In November of 2013, it was reported that a Sony insider leaked details about PaRappa the Rapper 3 for the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita.
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- Official website (Japanese)
- PaRappa the Rapper at MobyGames
- PaRappa the Rapper (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Rodney Alan Greenblat's page
- PaRappa Game & Walkthrough (Flash game)