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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Clearance Rack Review: Parappa the Rapper PSP

This is a new thing I'm going to try to do every so often. Since I end up buying most of my games either used or on clearance, I'll probably be one of the last people to review them. So, with that, I bring you the Clearance Rack Review, an irregular column dedicated to reviewing games I've recently plucked from the clearance (or used) bin.

Game pundits often point to Final Fantasy VII as being the big system seller for the original PlayStation. Well, for me, the game that really sold me on Sony's original gray box was a cartoony game with a rapping dog called Parappa the Rapper. FFVII was pretty but basically more of the same in genre I really didn't care about. Parappa however, was new, novel and something that really couldn't have been done on the cartridge based, last generation systems.

The concept behind Parappa is simple. You are the titular hero of the game, a dog who must rap his way through six levels in order to win the affections of Sunny Funny, who is a flower. The way you rap is by pressing buttons on the controller in time with the music and a cursor on the screen. Sound familiar? As best I can tell, Parappa was the first game to combine the follow the leader concept behind Simon with music, thus creating the modern music game.

The story is weird but funny. Lots of personality is brought in by Rodney Greenblatt's artwork which forms the basis of the game. It's hard not to smile at the characters and things going on, even when you are doing poorly and things start getting really weird.

The songs, except for the final level, are memorable and easily the best in the series. The big problems is, there just aren't enough of them. Even back in 1997 when Parappa was first released, it was hardly packed with replay value. Today's gamer, more familiar with rhythm games, could probably finish Parappa under two hours after taking the shrink wrap off.

There are downloadable remixes (why they aren't already on the disc, I don't know) and an ad-hoc multiplayer mode that I haven't tired yet. Multiplayer would do a lot to give this game replay value and was the was the only way the sequel Um Jammer Lammy topped the original. Still, it might be tough to find someone else willing to play with you, as this game is starting to show it's age.

And speaking of Um Jammer Lammy, I can't think of any reason why that Parappa sequel wasn't included in this package. While it was a lesser game than Parappa, it was fun and would double the length of this very short game and lessen the sting for those who paid full retail.

Which brings me to my bottom line. I paid $15 for Parappa at Target. It took me a while to actually decide to buy it because I knew how short the game is and how little replay value there is. Nostalgia got the best of me that day. I still think the game is fun and worth playing, but I'm not sure how much is nostalgia (this game wrecked many a real band practices back in the day.) The additions are so minor, I think had this been a PSN download for $5 or so, it'd be a no-brainier. At half off, you really have to like it to buy it, but I'd only recommend paying full price to total music game addicts.

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