Together Retro Game Club: PaRappa the Rapper

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Presented by Dsheinem
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Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind! This month’s Together Retro is a rappin’ good time!

Overview

PaRappa the Rapper, the first of several influential PlayStation games by developer NanaOn-Sha and designer/musician Masaya Matsuura, is seen today as an early foray into the rhythm genre that would grow to include everything from Space Channel 5 to Rhythm Fever to Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Though the genre has seen many changes since, and though Parappa isn’t necessarily the first game to offer timed presses set to music as a primary gameplay mechanic, it remains a seminal title in its own right and a great pick for our first Together Retro in this genre.

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Many gamers in the USA first became familiar with PaRappa the Rapper via the game’s demo.  The demo was included on a pack in disc that was bundled with the system in 1997 (the disc also included demos of Intelligent Qube, Armored Core, and more).   A demo of the game was also shipped to “PlayStation Underground” members, man of whom quickly warmed to the game’s quirky graphical style and addictive rhythmic gameplay mechanics.  Buoyed by the strong word of mouth created by the demo, the game became something of a cult hit during the period of its release and though the game never became one of PlayStations’ most successful titles (there was no Greatest Hits release in the US, though it did have a “The Best” release in Japan), it nonetheless was popular enough to suggest to Sony to release most of its spiritual and direct sequels worldwide.

Gameplay

The game judges your ability to successfully tap the proper button/series of buttons in time with the music that the characters in the game rap to.  Success yields a higher ranking and various forms of audio and visual praise, allowing players to progress from level to level and to boost their score.  Failure forces players to replay sections until they get the timing down correctly.  Though Wikipedia notes “the gameplay is not challenging for experienced gamers” (since when does Wikipedia weigh in on challenge!?), the game offers a range of difficulty levels, modes and opportunities to rack up score, earn special endings, and keep the player interested.

Ports

In addition to he PS1 version of the game, ParRappa was remade and released for the PSP.  It is also available on PSN and can be played on the PSP, PS3, and PS Vita. The paper thin dog also made an appearance in the recent PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale game.

Legacy

Parappa received one direct sequel in Parappa the Rapper 2 for the Playstation 2.  The next game by NanaOn-Sha and Matsuura was the more rock-oriented Parappa-style game UmJammer Lammy, which was also released exclusively for the PS1.  If you find the work in these games to be interesting, you should also check out their other collaborations such as the excellent Vib Ribbon series (PS1/PS2) and the more recent titles such as Haunt for the Xbox 360, Major Minor’s Majestic March (Wii)  and WINtA for iOS.

Discussion

How do you think the game has aged? What does Master Onion think of your performance so far? What do you think of the other work done by NanaOn-Sha and Matsuura? Be sure to join us for a discussion of the game all month long in the forums!

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