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Parappa The Rapper

Platform(s): PSP
Genre: Rhythm
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCE
Release Date: July 17, 2007

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PSP Preview - 'PaRappa the Rapper'

by Andrew Hayward on May 17, 2007 @ 3:51 a.m. PDT

Parappa The Rapper features all the characters, levels and songs from the original, increasing the franchise's social appeal by offering a host of new features, including the ability to let up to four players rap head-to-head in ad-hoc battles and share a demo level wirelessly with other PSPs.

Genre: Rhythm
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEJ
Release Date: July 2007

As-is PSone classics have been made available in downloadable form for the PSP for less than eight dollars, yet the disc-based reissue of PaRappa the Rapper is likely to command a much larger price point. What could possibly justify such a variance in economics and presentation? Ad Hoc multiplayer support is certainly a major bonus, though the addition of eight downloadable playable remixes should prove to be the most significant upgrade.

Granted, the term "significant" is extremely relative — the original game contained just six songs, practically heresy in the modern era. But each and every one was an unforgettable classic, and it's not hard to find a twenty-something gamer who can rap back Chop Chop Master Onion's introductory beatdown with little provocation. "Kick, punch, it's all in the mind/if you want to test me, I'm sure you'll find/the things I'll teach ya are sure to beat ya/nevertheless you'll get a lesson from teacher now."

See what I mean? Just thinking about it brought back the brilliant flow of that wacky onion-headed fellow. Though incredibly short, the original single-player experience remains entirely intact, with alterations made only to take advantage of the increased aspect ratio of the PSP. As PaRappa makes his way from the dojo to the flea market and beyond, a series of truly bizarre cut scenes fill the gaps, combining simplistic (yet lovable) CG clips with amusing hand-drawn and live-action flourishes to create an unforgettable experience that still holds up after a decade of progress.

PaRappa the Rapper seemingly created the quirky rhythm genre single-handedly, matching the imaginative animation and characters of New York artist Rodney Greenblat with the off-the-wall rhymes and beats of Masaya Matsuura. The gameplay tasks players with matching button commands to the rhythm of the track, and tapping the correct buttons at the exact points in each line will ensure the paper-thin dog's ability to progress forward in his quest to woo Sunny Funny, the daisy of his dreams. Pressing the wrong button or losing the beat may drop his rating to Bad or Awful, and he will have to replay the stage if he finishes with such a negative rating. The audio/visual presentation is directly tied to the performance, and the mentor characters will become angry or bored if the player has a weak flow.

The eight downloadable remixes were not playable at Sony's recent Gamers Day event, though it seems likely that they will be made available when the game ships to retail in July. The tracks can be downloaded directly to a PSP Memory Stick via a wireless Infrastructure connection, and according to Christian Hinojosa-Miranda, assistant producer on the title, a 64MB stick will most likely be large enough to contain all eight of the songs.

Infrastructure support will not carry over to the multiplayer aspect of the game, though PaRappa the Rapper will feature four-player Ad Hoc support for wireless rap battles. Additionally, the game will make use of Game Sharing capabilities to share a demo level with up to three other players simultaneously, though it was not clear whether all four players would be battling it out or merely blazing through a single-player level at the same time.

PaRappa the Rapper is a timeless rhythm gaming experience with undeniable appeal, and bringing it to the PSP will hopefully turn a whole new generation of gamers onto the long-dormant canine hero. Some might question the colorful visuals and PG-rated lyrics of the kid-friendly classic, but as Prince Fleaswallow proudly proclaims, "Money money money is all you need." If that can't appeal to the hardcore rap-loving kids of today, then I don't know what will.


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