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12-01.jpg (12182 bytes)It should be made painfully clear that PaRappa the Rapper 2 is not a game for everyone. There’s no shooting, no gore, the graphics aren’t much to look at, and it’s very short to play through. For folks not hung up on the typical desires of most gamers, folks who look for some innovation as respite from just blowing-stuff-up, PaRappa the Rapper 2 could be one of the greatest games you’ve ever played. The quirky, infectious soundtrack, oddball graphical aesthetic, and "Simon Says" style of gameplay makes PaRappa the Rapper 2 a game that I have a very hard time putting down.

9-01.jpg (9223 bytes)Fans of the original PaRappa title for PSone, or the semi-sequel UmJammer Lammy, pretty much know what to expect. Rendered in a unique "paper" style, where everything looks like 2D cut-outs, PaRappa the Rapper 2 maintains the visual aesthetic of the original games. The story in number two is that an evil army has invaded the town, turning everything into noodles. Everything from guitar strings to hamburgers turn into noodles, and it seems the evil minions even have a fetish for afros, which is more of a bizarre sidenote. In order to defend the town, and escape having to eat noodles for the rest of his life, PaRappa rounds up his pals, including all the old faves from previous games, and sets out to quash the invasion.

1-01.jpg (9436 bytes)Of course, in order to do so, PaRappa must pass a series of challenges. In the beginning, he gets instructions in making burgers and romantic kung-fu, and later he moves on to straight-up battle rap action against the evil army. The game is played by pressing the buttons on the controller in time with the music to cue vocal samples. The tracks are basic call-and-response pieces, although PaRappa is encouraged to "freestyle" by adding vocal bits in the appropriate spots.

2-01.jpg (9589 bytes)The game is very short, which is probably its biggest drawback. A seasoned PaRappa fan will walk through this game in a couple of hours, tops. But much of the fun of PaRappa is in perfecting levels. Since each level revolves around a particular song, they have the odd quality of replayability more akin to songs on an album rather than levels in a game. If you like the song on a level, you can replay that level quite a few times.

3-01.jpg (9606 bytes)To further alleviate the brevity of the game, a multiplayer mode has been added. This mode pits you against a pal in a rap battle. The battles consist of several rounds. The vocal samples you use in the multiplayer are determined by which level you pick, as are the characters you play. If you pick the level with Master Onion, then player two must play Master Onion. That’s not so bad, since the meat of multiplayer is in making the rhymes, not watching your character. The multiplayer mode is a blast, and definitely enhances the replayability and longevity of the game, but it ultimately falls to the same problem as the entire game – there’s just not enough music. Variations come into the music all the time through the vocals you insert, but even so it would be nice to have more of everything because everything in the game is just that good.

7-01.jpg (9962 bytes)PaRappa the Rapper 2 falls short in the visuals department, too. PaRappa is, and always has been, a good group game. Whether taking turns in single player or now busting out the multiplayer, people don’t mind crowding around to check out PaRappa. The original titles were completely different from anything else we saw on PSone, and were so successful that they inspired the use of 2D techniques in other games, such as Jet Grind Radio and Paper Mario. While I have no problem with PaRappa sticking to its roots and making use of the 2D aesthetic, I have higher expectations for the technique on the PS2. It pretty much looks like it did on the PSone. There are still annoying anti-aliasing problems and missed opportunities to make scenes more visually dynamic. Especially when looking at a new 2D-3D game such as Jet Set Radio Future, it becomes obvious that much more could be done to make PaRappa look cooler.

8-01.jpg (11629 bytes)Aside from these relatively small quibbles, PaRappa the Rapper 2 is a phenomenal game. It will get your booty shakin’, thumbs bumpin’, and head noddin’. Sometimes you’ll nod up and down saying, "Yes, yes, this rocks!" Sometimes you’ll shake your head left to right and say, "No, no, don’t stop the rockin’!" If you’ve never played PaRappa before, it’s a title that any serious gamer cannot miss. If you have played PaRappa in the past, then you know what to expect and you’ve probably already got it.

Shawn Rider   (03/05/2002)


Ups: Great soundtrack; cool gameplay; added multiplayer mode; unique and innovative.

Downs: Graphics looking not as 'new'; we need more, more, more.

Platform: PlayStation 2