is a rhythm video game for the Sony PlayStation created by Masaya Matsuura (the former leader of the Japanese "Hyper Pop Unit" PSY S) and his NanaOn-Sha company.
While the gameplay is not challenging for experienced gamers, the game is remembered for its unique graphic design, its quirky soundtrack and its bizarre plot. Despite being made in Japan, all of the game's songs and dialogue are spoken in English in all versions. The game is named after its protagonist, Parappa, a rapping dog with the motto, "I gotta believe!".
It spawned a merchandising campaign in Japan, a spinoff in 1999, an anime series in 2001, and a direct sequel for PlayStation 2 in 2002. A PlayStation Portable port of the original game was released in Japan in December 2006 in North America and Europe in July 2007.
Considered ahead of its time in its day, PaRappa the Rapper is somewhat similar to the classic 1980s game Simon, in which the player is required to repeat a sequence of sounds and buttons. PaRappa the Rapper demands that the player not only get the sequence correct but also the timing of the sequence, in a call and response format. The game provides small portions of spoken vocals that are triggered when the appropriate buttons are pressed. Pressing the buttons in the correct order, with the correct timing, provides an intelligible imitation of the words spoken by the character; pressing the buttons in an incorrect order or with incorrect timing rewards the player with unintelligible gibberish.
Points are awarded for correctness and "style". By simply following the given sequence, the best a player can attain is the "U rappin' GOOD" rating. To get a higher rating, the player must "freestyle"; that is, to deviate from the given sequence but still keep in time with the song's rhythm. Through this method, the player can attain a "U rappin' COOL" rating. A player needs to have completed a level first before a COOL level can be obtained (this is not the case in its sequels). Alternately, if the player continues to play poorly, they may lose points and attain "U rappin' BAD" and "U rappin' AWFUL" ratings. A player drops down a rank after playing two wrong lines in succession, or on occasion an utterly ridiculous line, and can only go back up a level by getting two consecutive good lines.
If the stage is completed with a BAD or AWFUL rating, or if at any point the "U rappin'" meter falls below AWFUL, the stage is failed and the player can attempt the stage again, or quit. If the stage is completed with a GOOD or COOL rating, the player continues to the next stage. If all stages are completed at COOL rating, the player receives an alternate game ending, and can access a bonus song.
Rank-changing aspects of a level are only apparent during the first of every two lines. If the player successfully times the first line of a pair, but fails on the second, the rank meter will not blink BAD or AWFUL. Likewise, once the game has been cleared, a GOOD play is only necessary on the first of every two lines to get a shot at COOL mode on the second line. This is fixed in the game's sequels, but not in the PSP remake.
The player takes on the role of PaRappa, a paper-thin rapping dog, who is trying to win the heart of a flower-like girl named Sunny Funny. However, he is intimidated by the presence of Joe Chin, a rich, narcissistic dog who goes overboard with his attempts to impress Sunny.
To impress Sunny Funny, PaRappa learns to fight at a kung-fu dojo, and takes a driver's education course to get his license. However when he crashes his Dad's car, he has to earn money at a flea market to pay for it. When Sunny's birthday comes up, PaRappa has to get cake, but ends up ruining it after an encounter with Joe. He makes a new one by watching a cooking show, and proceeds to eat a lot of it on the day. When spending some time alone with Sunny, he is suddenly overcome with the need to go to the bathroom. PaRappa has to rap against his previous teachers in order to get to the front of the line to the toilet.
Then one night, PaRappa is invited to Club Fun, and asks Sunny to go with him, to which she agrees. PaRappa then raps on stage with everybody, rapping solo at the end of the song and expressing his feelings for Sunny.
Parappa the Rapper The hero of the game, trying to impress the love of his life. He motivates himself out of problems with his catchphrase, "I Gotta Believe!" His name comes from the Japanese term for 'paper thin'.
Sunny Funny Parappa's love interest, who generally has a cheery disposition. She appears to be most impressed with Parappa when he needs the bathroom.
PJ Berri A lazy bear who loves to eat. He works as a DJ at Club Fun.
Katy Kat Parappa's friend who enjoys disco and will generally try to keep things organised.
Joe Chin A pompous rich guy who goes to extravagant lengths to woo Sunny. Sunny is generally uninterested in him, but Parappa sees him as a threat.
Papa Parappa Parappa's father, whose car ends up getting taken, and crashed, by Parappa ten minutes after he gets his driving license.
Chop Chop Master Onion An onion sensei, who teaches students karate in his dojo. He is distinctly memorable for his moustache, 'stink lines', and his most famous line, "Kick, Punch. It's all in the mind."
Instructor Mooselini A strict driving instructor whose antlers have a habit of getting caught on the car roof. She has a sister who appears in PaRappa the Rapper 2.
Prince Fleaswallow A metaphorical lizard who rules over the flea market, and helps Parappa earn money to replace his Dad's car that he crashed.
Cheap Cheap the Cooking Chicken A chicken who hosts a cooking show for people with little money. She is somehow able to get out of the TV to tell off the viewers if they're messing up, or turning off the TV when you get " cool".
MC King Kong Mushi A spider who hosts wild parties at Club Fun that get the whole crowd going.
The unique visual style is that of Rodney Greenblat, an American graphic artist who is popular in Japan. Like in the Paper Mario series by Nintendo, all of the characters appear to be flat, two dimensional beings cut from paper while the surroundings are primarily three dimensional. Greenblat states on his website that the characters were hand-drawn, and that they were paper-flat to preserve the style of his artwork. While the setting is a bright interpretation of an urban city, the characters range from anthropomorphic animals such as frogs, spiders, and dogs, to lively versions of normally inanimate objects including onions, hammers, and flowers.
PaRappa the Rapper was released for PlayStation Portable in Japan in December 2006 and in North America and Europe in July 2007 for the game's tenth anniversary. It is a port of the original game with an added ad-hoc multiplayer mode for up to four players and an ability to download remixed versions of the existing songs. However, it does not fix some of the faults of the previous game, such as missync in lipsync or the rank meter, and does not improve the graphics. In conjunction with the PSP release, Sony, for a limited time, freely released the soundtrack for the game through the PSP Fanboy website. It was recently revealed in an interview with Masaya Matsuura published in Famitsu that a bonus song created for the PSP release, "Believe in Yourself," was cut due to development time constraints. The song featured Parappa training with Chop Chop Master Onion at a Buddhist temple on top of a mountain.
Reception and legacy
PaRappa the Rapper sold 761,621 copies in Japan by 1997, making it the 7th best-selling game of the year in that region. As of December 26, 2004, the original version of the game has sold 937,976 copies in Japan, while its PlayStation the Best re-release has sold 306,261 copies meaning it has sold nearly 1.4 Million copies total.
At the first annual Interactive Achievement Awards in 1998, PaRappa the Rapper won the awards for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Design and Outstanding Achievement in Sound and Music, and was nominated for Interactive Title of the Year. In the final issue of the Official UK PlayStation Magazine, the game was chosen as the 3rd best game of all time.
The game was featured as a challenge on the videogame show GamesMaster in 1998, where the contestants, a team of two people, were given an extra-large controller to make the game harder. The size of the buttons was that of the palm of a hand. A sketch based on the game was featured in the Adult Swim show Robot Chicken.
PaRappa the Rapper is also a confirmed player for the new upcoming game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. His play style revolves around using his Karate taught to him by Master Onion as well as moves inspired by his love of music and skateboarding.
Sequels and spin-offs
PaRappa the Rapper is regarded as the first "modern" popular rhythm game. It was followed by a spin-off titled UmJammer Lammy, which was released on March 18, 1999 in Japan. The game featured a new cast of characters, multiplayer modes and focused on guitar play, but very similar game play. A bonus mode was included in which the entire game could be replayed with Parappa as the protagonist, complete with his own versions of the game's stages. An arcade version of the game produced by Namco was also released.
A direct sequel, PaRappa the Rapper 2, was released on August 30, 2001 for the PlayStation 2. The franchise has spawned a large range of merchandising and a children's anime TV series of the same name, which began airing in April 2001 on Fuji TV in Japan.
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