I'm ashamed to admit that I missed out on the original PaRappa the Rapper when it first came out. As a lover of music and rhythm games in general, it's a bad spot on my gaming resume that it took me such a long time to play one of the first modern rhythm games. That's why I was excited to learn that Sony Interactive Entertainment was bringing a remastered version of the original PlayStation game to the Playstation 4. I had missed out on the Playstation Portable port as well, so a remastered version for console was just what I needed to finally learn karate, how to drive, and how to bake through rap (more on that in a moment).
Rhythm games have evolved by leaps and bounds since the original PaRappa the Rapper's release years ago. The likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band changed what gamers thought the genre could do. Does the remastered version hold any value for gamers looking to get their rap and rhyme on today? Let's find out.
PaRappa the Rapper Remastered is available on Playstation 4 for $14.99.
The story of PaRappa the Rapper Remastered is a wonderful twist on what could have been just another stale love story. PaRappa, a paper-like dog, and the titular hero, has a crush on his friend, the flower-headed Sunny Funny. He's so smitten that he'll do anything to win her over. Over the course of six stages, PaRappa learns kung fu, how to drive, and how to make a birthday cake, all through rapping over funky beats. He meets many colorful characters along the way, from Chop Chop Master Onion, the kung fu teaching onion, to Prince Fleaswallow, the flea market running frog. PaRappa's characters are one of the best things about the game, each one wackier than the next. If it weren't for them and the idea of PaRappa rapping to solve all of his problems, the underlying story would be pretty ho-hum.
Rhythm games have come a long way since PaRappa the Rapper's original release and this remastered version does nothing to try to fix years old flaws. Despite these facts, it remains a fun game to play when you don't want to throw your controller out a window. Once you finish it, however, there's not much reason to keep playing.
PaRappa the Rapper Remastered's art style is charming and unique, just like the original. On PS4, the paper-thin characters dance around with a crisp and colorful new look that is pleasing to the eye. Every level is almost cartoon quality and you can really tell a lot of work went into this remastered version to make the graphics for every song look as clean as possible. The characters already have more personality than most games out there, but this graphical touch up breathes even more life into them.
I wish I could say the same about the cutscenes in between levels. These prerendered cutscenes look like they were ported straight from the original Playstation or Playstation Portable version of the game – I'm pretty sure they were. In an inexplicable design decision, the cutscenes only take up about half of the screen. The rest of the screen is devoted to a lazy looking border that adds absolutely nothing. I wish the developers behind this game would have given as much care to update these scenes as they did with the in-game graphics, but since they didn't, it leaves PaRappa the Rapper Remastered with a presentation that is lackluster and uninspiring. The art style still looks fantastic after all these years, but if you're going to take the time to update one part of the game, do it for the whole game. This is easily the most disappointing aspect of this remastered version.
"Kick! Punch! It's all in the mind
If you wanna test me, I'm sure you'll find
The things I'll teach ya is sure to beat ya
But nevertheless you'll get a lesson from teacher"
It doesn't get much better than PaRapper the Rapper Remastered's raps and beats. Each song is a musical treat for the ears and its the one thing that makes having to replay difficult levels over and over again bearable. Those lyrics come from the first song of the game, where you're pitted against Chop Chop Master Onion in a rap battle to learn his moves. It's a great first song that introduces you to the mechanics of the game, along with being just plain catchy. From the moment the music kicks in, you'll be hooked on PaRappa and the gang's tunes.
It's also the first song of an all-time great video game soundtrack. Masaya Matsuura, the composer of PaRappa the Rapper, created some fresh and unique songs that still stand strong in this version of the game. Each song is better than the last, and while the lyrics border on cheesy sometimes, it hard not to find yourself singing and humming along, in spite of the frustrating difficulty/timing issues. Six levels means six great songs, which is perhaps the biggest, and maybe only, shortcoming of the soundtrack of PaRappa the Rapper Remastered. I found myself wanting more when I finished the game. Sure, it offers alternate versions of the first level's rap, but that's about it as far as extra musical content goes. With a soundtrack as good as this one, it's hard not to wish that more content was added to this remastered version of the original. That said, the sound design and music are easily the strongest assets of this game. I know a game has some great tracks when I find myself playing through levels again just to listen one more time.
After such a long absence, I wouldn't exactly call PaRappa's return triumphant. That's not to say it's bad, but it's not great, either. Many things could have been better about this remastered edition, from the accuracy issues with button presses to the terrible looking cutscenes. More extra content, like maybe a new song or two other than the alternate audio tracks, would have been nice as well. As I said before, there's not much reason to keep playing after you beat the game, except maybe to master each track with a "cool" rating. Past that, gamers will be done after two to three hours max.
Gamers looking to revisit this gaming gem might come out the other end a little disappointed. This solid but lackluster entry in the PaRappa series will please fans of the original game to an extent, but it's hard to think that it will win over many newcomers to the franchise. I still recommend that player give PaRappa the Rapper Remastered a go, but the fifteen dollar price tag is a steep entry fee for a game that can only really offer a three-hour experience. It's a remastered edition that does the bare minimum to be entertaining, but not much else. Here's to hoping that our favorite rapping dog gets a new game sooner rather than later.
|+ Great soundtrack||– Frustrating accuracy issues|
|+ Charming art style and characters||– Terrible looking cutscenes|
|+ Crisp in-level visuals||– Too short|