There are a few games throughout history—Super Mario Bros., Halo, Shadow of the Colossus—that a person must play, and while I don’t think PaRappa the Rapper falls into that prestigious group, it’s something you should allow yourself to experience at least once.
PaRappa the Rapper is a rhythm game that requires players, who take control of Parappa, to progress through the different stages by rap-battling other characters. From a kung-fu onion to a moose who teaches driver’s ed, players are required to tap the X, square, circle, and triangle buttons based on when they appear in a bar at the top of the screen.
As the levels go on, a player’s performance is reflected by a meter that runs the gamut of Awful to Cool. It sounds simple enough, but the game is a lot harder than it looks. I played through three levels at the PlayStation Experience this past weekend, and I only achieved the Cool rating on one occasion. I guess my rap skills need some work.
What makes PaRappa such a memorable experience is its nonsensical story—a rapping dog wants to win the affection of a flower-like girl named Sunny—and the game’s catchy songs. “Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind…” Even if you haven’t played PaRappa, chances are you’ve heard that line, whether referenced by a friend or heard in other popular culture.
The game is also mind-bogglingly short. There’s a play through on YouTube by user DarkFulgore that blows through the game in just 38 minutes. Granted, his play-through is tool-assisted, but it gives you an idea of how quickly it can be beat. The play through also highlights just how campy the game’s plot is.
That eccentricity extends to the game’s visuals, which are about as basic as they come. I don’t mean that to be a slight toward the game’s developers; PaRappa’s visuals and general quirkiness only add to its charm, which oozes out of every rap, animation, and cutscene. In fact, when done up in high-definition, there’s no denying the game looks pretty fantastic.
Personally, I like the second stage’s song the best. “You wanna learn how to drive, huh? It’s harder than you think it is.” I remember being terrible at PaRappa back in the day, and I wasn’t much better at the PlayStation Experience. (That might be because I played right after Tim Schafer, who I quietly fanboyed over.) But it’s still fun as hell.
There’s a timing thing in PaRappa that’s difficult to master, so even though PaRappa offers, at best, an hour of gameplay, it’s worth replaying to get a higher score. The remaster is faithful to the original in that the gameplay hasn’t changed. But the HD graphics look great, and the songs are still catchy as hell.
According to Sony, the remaster will feature dynamic 4K support for the PlayStation 4 Pro, along with enhanced audio and additional alternative audio tracks. The game is listed on Sony’s website as having a release date of March 28, 2017.
There’s a demo on the PlayStation Store now if you want to try the game out. But beware, Master Onion looks so good in HD he’ll make your eyes water.
“Don’t get cocky, it’s gonna get rocky…”