Um Jammer Lammy
|Um Jammer Lammy|
North American cover art featuring Lammy and Katy
Namco (Arcade version)
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Arcade system||Namco System 12|
Um Jammer Lammy (ウンジャマ・ラミー Un Jama Ramī) is a rhythm video game developed by NanaOn-Sha and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation video game console in 1999. It is a follow up to 1996's PaRappa the Rapper, once again featuring the collaboration of music producer and game designer Masaya Matsuura and artist Rodney Alan Greenblat. An arcade version co-developed by Namco, titled Um Jammer Lammy Now!!, was released in Japanese arcades in December 1999. The game was later re-released on PlayStation Network between 2008 and 2012.
The game revolves around a shy lamb named Lammy (Sara Ramirez), a left-handed guitarist of a rock band named MilkCan, alongside bassist and vocalist Katy Kat and drummer Ma-san. Although normally a nervous wreck, Lammy becomes much more confident once she has a guitar in hand. On the night before MilkCan is due for their first concert, Lammy has a dream of performing alongside Chop Chop Master Onion, only to realise she had been playing a vacuum cleaner the entire time. As Lammy laments how she is nothing without her guitar, Chop Chop tells her about how he lost his dojo, but it remains in his mind, complete with a casino, leaving behind the words "Dojo, Casino, It's all in the mind."
Lammy wakes up and realises she only has 15 minutes to get to her concert, she is blocked off by a fire. As the Chief Puddle attempts to get Lammy to help put out the fire since she's in a hurry, Lammy notices a billboard for a casino. Recalling Chop Chop's words, Lammy pictures her fire hose as a guitar and gains the confidence she usually has whilst playing. After putting out the fire, Lammy is rewarded with some pizza but eats so much that she is mistaken as a pregnant lady by Nurse Cathy Piller. Upon realizing she wasn't actually pregnant, Cathy forces Lammy to help put all the newborns to sleep using a baby as a guitar. As she leaves she slips on a skateboard and is launched in to a plane that was flying through the street. She then helps Captain Fussenpepper fly the plane while he is attacked by a ceiling panel, which makes him switch personalities. She ends up crash landing the plane into the middle of a full parking lot. Accidentally leaving her guitar on the plane upon leaving, Lammy goes to build a new one from scratch with the help from a beaver named Paul Chuck. By pretending her chainsaw is a guitar she is able to turn a tree in to a fully functional and painted guitar. Upon leaving with the new guitar, Lammy either slips on a banana peel and dies, where she's taken to the netherworld (Japan and PAL) or gets her belt snagged on the shop door, propelling her backwards through time and onto a strange island (U.S). After being dragged into performing in a concert for idol Teriyaki Yoko, Lammy manages to earn the right to be brought back to Earth using a fax machine, but not before running into her evil twin Rammy, Yoko's original guitarist. After coming back from the dead/returning from the island, Lammy finally arrives at the concert at the same time as Katy and Ma-san, who had their own set of circumstances causing them to run late. With the band together, MilkCan go ahead and perform their concert before their adoring fans.
By completing Lammy's story, a side story focusing on Parappa is unlocked. In Parappa's side-story, Katy asks Parappa, PJ Berri and Sunny Funny to help prepare for her live concert. This inspires Parappa and PJ to start up their own rock and roll band, which kind of falls short due to PJ's idea of what's considered 'rock and roll'.
Um Jammer Lammy follows on from the gameplay of PaRappa the Rapper, albeit with a stronger focus on guitar playing. Each of the levels sees Lammy playing alongside a teacher, with play alternating between the teacher and Lammy. Symbols appear on a scrolling score at the top of the screen, with an icon depicting whose turn it is. After the teacher sings a line and the player's controller vibrates, the player must hit the corresponding buttons to make Lammy play a response. The player can either follow the symbols exactly, or attempt to freestyle to earn some extra points. Successfully performing freestyle lines will allow the player to advance from the normal Good rank to Cool, in which the teacher leaves the screen and the player can freestyle however they feel until the end of the song, or if their freestyling isn't good enough, they return to Good. If the player successfully inputs a code displayed on the loading screen whilst in Cool Mode, they will enter Fever Mode where massive points can be earned. However, if the player performs badly, they will drop to Bad and subsequently Awful rank, and will need to perform well to climb back up to Good. The song is failed if the player drops below Awful, or if the player is in Bad or Awful rank when the level ends. The player progresses by reaching the end of the song in either Good or Cool rank.
There are two levels of difficulty: Normal is the default level, as pictured, with specific buttons to press and saving after each level. Easy is a practice level for stages 1–6, where any button can be pressed on the line, but there is no option to save.
In Lammy's storyline, starting stages 3 onward unlocks various sound morphers (Flanger, Harmonizer, Wah-Wah, Distortion, and Reverb) that can be selected with the Select button whilst playing as Lammy or Rammy. These morphers affect the sound of the guitar playing, while the Harmonizer can be further modified by using an analogue controller. The player may also use the back shoulder buttons (L2 and R2) to use the guitar's wammy bar. These modifiers are completely optional as they have no impact on points gained.
At the beginning of the game, the only mode available is Lammy's Solo mode. After clearing a level with Lammy (except Stage 1), the player unlocks Co-op and Vs. modes for Lammy and Rammy. These modes can be played with a second player, or one player with a computer partner (with the option to use one controller for both available after completing all Co-op levels), controlling Lammy (purple line) and Rammy (black line) with play alternating between the two. In Co-op mode, the two players must play harmoniously to progress, with points and rank changes determined by how well they both performed (e.g. if Player 1 performs slightly well on a line but Player 2 performs really badly on the next, the result will be a negative score and a rank drop.) Conversely in Vs. mode, players must try to outperform each other, with points earned or depleted depending on the differences between each player's scores for each set of lines. Completing Lammy's solo mode also unlocks Parappa's Solo mode, in which players control Parappa as he uses rap skills in his own interpretations of each of the stages. Clearing all of the levels in all the modes unlocks a bonus mode where players can listen to the various songs, without the riffs or raps, and the characters on screen can perform actions with the face buttons.
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The arcade version of the game, entitled Um Jammer Lammy Now!! is played using a unique guitar controller. The buttons for Triangle, Circle, X and Square are represented by strummers in the middle of the guitar, the L button is represented by a slider at the top of the guitar, and a scratch disc at the bottom represents the R button. The gameplay is identical to the console version, albeit some of the game's lines are changed to make it easier to play with the guitar controller. Also, unlike the console version, Stage 1 can be played as Parappa.
North American version
Several changes were made for the game's North American release, which are not found in the Japanese and PAL versions of the game. The most notable change revolves around Stage 6, where Lammy no longer dies and goes to Hell, but instead snags her belt on a door handle and winds up flung onto a volcanic island. This results in some different graphics for Lammy during this stage, as well as the following cutscene, as well as a slight change in lyrics in Stage 1 for continuity. Lyrics were also changed in various stages, such as Stage 5, which features a lumberjack. Lines were changed in this stage to avoid themes of deforestation.
A single release of one of the game's songs, "Got to Move! (Millennium Girl)", was released in Japan on April 21, 1999. Three soundtracks inspired by the game have been released in Japan by SPE Visual Works. The game's original soundtrack was released on November 20, 1999. An album, MilkCan, Make It Sweet was released on June 19, 1999, which features variations on the original songs, the majority of which feature vocals by Michelle Burks as Katy Kat. Finally, Parappa & PJ: I Scream!, which features remixed versions of the game's songs with original lyrics performed by Dred Foxx as Parappa, was released on September 22, 1999.
The game was given generally favorable reviews, receiving around an 82.68% on GameRankings. GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann commented on the game's sound, graphics and originality and gave it an 8.4, stating, "While the game isn't a strict sequel, it does take place in the same universe, with the same graphics style and nearly identical gameplay. ... [T]he additional levels, the two-player option, and the inclusion of the Parappa remixes in Um Jammer Lammy add a value that Parappa the Rapper simply can't touch. But keep in mind that the game doesn't stray far from the formula, and the game's difficulty will put off those who never mastered Parappa. So, to put it another way, if you didn't play Parappa to death and love every minute of it, you might as well skip out on Um Jammer Lammy." Similarly, IGN gave it an 8.6 and commented on the gameplay, story, graphics and sound, stating, "If you can look past all the crazy effects and wild animations, the plot isn't as funny, or as cute, as Parappa the Rapper's. In fact, it was kind of bland. ... But the rest of the game is sweet. ... Um Jammer Lammy is a great addition to the Parappa cosmos... [and] has so much more that Parappa didn't have." Game Revolution also gave it a B, calling it "a cool game, if for no other reason than to entertain sufficiently inebriated party guests. It's easily the most insane mish-mash of psychadelia [sic] yet seen on a console, and at least deserves a shot (or the whole bottle, even)", but criticized the story, calling it "the most obtuse, disjointed, drug-induced mess of a story that has ever been conceived, period." (The site even went so far as to rate the game as #40 on the list of the Top 50 Worst Game Names Ever.)
Next Generation reviewed the PlayStation version of the game, rating it five stars out of five, and stated that "the gameplay is still tops (maybe even better), the songs are still catchy (and hilarious), and there are tons of extra goodies packed in, making this a worthy successor in every sense of the term."
The alternate U.S. version of Lammy's Stage 6, however, drew mixed praise and criticism. IGN called it "a far off island [that] has that Japan-idol-talk influence... So if you were expecting to see one of the levels being in hell, well, it's not in there." Similarly, GameSpot's Gerstmann made a later update on his March 26, 1999, review by commenting on the U.S. alterations to Stage 6, exclaiming, "It doesn't really affect the game too much, since much of the game doesn't make a lot of sense to begin with."
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