PaRappa The Rapper

Developer: NanaOn-Sha

Platform(s): PS1, PSP

Release Date(s): Sep 1997, Jul 2007

Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind,
And this old game, I’ll sure you’ll find,
That it used to amuse ya and also confuse ya,
It feels dated now, more than it used to.
*That was an improvised rap from the game, I’m not just a weird person.*

The Set-Up:
PaRappa is hopelessly in love with his flame, Sunny Funny. How a dog and a walking flower would work, I don’t know, we’re not meant to judge. In order to win her affections, he must participate in a number of rap battles with dojo masters, driving instructors and cooking programme presenters.

PaRappa is one of those iconic video game characters that just made it big in the 90s. He was recognizable to a lot of people then and many were familiar with his catchy rap tunes (not least of all his Master Onion rap). However, for a game to be iconic is not necessarily an assurance of quality. PaRappa may be a pretty popular guy, due mainly to his early contribution to the rhythm action game genre, but his first outing wasn’t without it’s flaws.

Players participate in rap battles against opponents in order to progress the rather bizarre story. These battles range from the incredibly easy, to the freakishly difficult, all over the course of six stages. That’s right, just six. And, strangely, it really is only the first stage that can be easily completed. The following five take a lot of time and effort to master, and will probably cause a lot of frustration for players.

Simply pressing the buttons as you are prompted on screen just doesn’t seem to be enough. Each button you press makes PaRappa talk and his rapping has to sync up with his opponents. This is made tricky because there are lip syncing issues that even the PSP version isn’t able to smooth over. It’s satisfying when you actually get a rhyme going, but that will probably occur less than half the time until you sink many hours of practice in.

The most redeeming feature of the game is the catchy nature of its songs. While it is tedious to have to replay levels over and over (and over and over and over and arrRGHH! Stupid flat dog!!), the music softens the blow. The tunes are infectiously catchy and it is very likely that you’ll catch yourself humming them while on the bus or at work. Even as these words are being written, I have the last song stuck in my head. And I haven’t played it since yesterday.

The graphics are also a standout feature. Because of the 2D character models in 3D, it has barely aged at all, still impressing with it’s unique art style. It’s a bright and colourful game to match it’s bright and colourful tunes. However, an issue I had with this is that, because your eye is focused on the button prompts, you miss a lot of opportunities to take this in.

Because of the insane level of difficulty on some levels, the mere six stages will probably last a lot longer than you think. I spent months rapping for supremacy just in an attempt to use the TOILET on stage five! No one likes being in a constant state of Game Over, so this method of extending gameplay is hardly a plus.

You will almost certainly keep playing because, despite the repetition, it is addictive stuff. But there are only so many times you can hear the words ‘You Lose’ before dropping the thing in frustration.

There was a lot I liked about PaRappa The Rapper. It had a great sense of fun and plenty of quirky humour. However, the highly imbalanced levels make it a bit of a slog to play through, and, even if you are a talented rapster, six stages aren’t going to satisfy you for long. For the time it was released, it’s a good attempt and there are some really interesting gameplay elements at work that had never been seen before. In a modern setting however, it really is only worth a quick glance at best.

Rating: 4/10

“I gotta Believe!” – PaRappa

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • The reason I find the first level so easy is probably due to the fact that I played it to death in a demo. While playing this demo one day, I had a family member walk in as I was playing the Master Onion level. The following conversation ensued.
    “Are you on drugs?”
    Pause, as Master Onion starts rapping and practicing karate.
    “…am I on drugs?”
  • PaRappa the Rapper is actually historically significant because it was one of the first modern rhythm games and almost single handedly popularized the genre. The creator of the game, Masaya Matsuura, went on to make many other popular music games, including the PaRappa spin-off Um Jammer Lammy and the revolutionary Vib-Ribbon.
  • PaRappa’s name comes from the Japanese term for ‘paper thin’.
  • The game recieved its own anime cartoon in Japan, the first episode of which can be watched here.
  • PaRappa had his own specialized toaster!
This game is kind of like:
  • An interactive Saturday morning cartoon


  • Having a really strict teacher sneak up on you and teach you how to rap when you’re not expecting it
Published in: on March 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] and the original tunes were also a major selling point for the game. Parappa the Rapper (reviewed here) is widely regarded as the godfather of rhythm action. It was entertaining enough to spawn a […]

  2. I’m kind of the opposite, which unfortunately means I spend far too much time playing really terrible games.

    I know what you mean about feeling old though. Do you still think 1990 was 10 years ago too?

  3. I actually remember that game from when I was a kid. I rented it with a friend and we played it for a bit before calling it quits. Back then, I called quits way too easily, so that doesn’t really mean anything. God, I feel old.

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