It should be made painfully clear
that PaRappa the Rapper 2 is not a game for everyone. Theres no shooting, no gore,
the graphics arent much to look at, and its 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 youve 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thats 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 theres 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.
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 dont 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.
these relatively small quibbles, PaRappa the Rapper 2 is a phenomenal game. It will get
your booty shakin, thumbs bumpin, and head noddin. Sometimes youll
nod up and down saying, "Yes, yes, this rocks!" Sometimes youll shake your
head left to right and say, "No, no, dont stop the rockin!" If
youve never played PaRappa before, its a title that any serious gamer cannot
miss. If you have played PaRappa in the past, then you know what to expect and youve
probably already got it.