PaRappa the Rapper Remastered Review
In the twenty years that have flown by since the release of PaRappa the Rapper on the PlayStation, rhythm games have flourished, and we have a lot to thank our hip hop hound for; it was a pioneer for the genre, and even though it’s a relatively short game, the ideas it had paved the way for tonnes of other titles implementing the symbol and sequence mechanic. Two decades later, we ask ourselves whether it holds up given the fact it’s so old now, and PaRappa has long since retired, probably living in his mansion surrounded by his countless Grammys, drinking Courvoisier out of his gold-plated beanie hat.
There’re only six main songs in total, and no matter how much you enjoy rapping with a Rastafarian gecko or a female moose police officer, you have to wonder why there’s nothing else added to the remaster. It feels empty, and a new mode or two would have been welcomed. Saying that, there’s plenty of reason to play through again and again; the songs are catchy, its story is charming, and the characters are colourful in both appearance and personality. PaRappa is cute, and his quest to woo the love of his life is quite charming; I’m not sure why a dog would fall for a sunflower, but each to their own.
Visually, PaRappa is both awful and appealing in equal parts. The cutscenes look like terrible cartoons you’d find on some random cable channel after a night out at 2am in the morning. The quality is poor with no clear improvement, and it’s still as random and outlandish as it always has been; I’d certainly forgot just how weird it was, and I had to pinch myself just to prove I wasn’t dreaming, or riding a wave of some hallucinogenic trip. It’s in the actual raps where you see the improvements, though; colours have been sharpened, and the general appearance has been smoothed around the edges, leading PaRappa the Rapper to look a lot better than it ever used to.
Playing the rhythm sections of the remaster is where you notice its issues, mainly down to the poor response times. Succeeding in the game relies on pressing the corresponding buttons your NPC character is giving you by way of a track at the top of the screen. If Chop Chop Master Onion is telling you to press Square, Square, Triangle, you press them. However, pressing them as accurately as you possibly can can still give bad results, as if there is some invisible middle ground where you should be pressing the buttons. You never really suffer greatly until around half way, and the level where you bake a cake with a chicken had me wanted to choke the living hell out of her. You earn points and a decent ranking by hitting the buttons on time, but I kept getting an Awful ranking for no real reason. If I hadn’t have been reviewing, I would have turned it off there and then, and never returned.
There are some new features to help you with this in fairness, but only one of them really works. In the options menu, you can choose to ‘feel the beat’ and ‘see the beat’. By turning on the former, a vibration will be felt on the control pad so when each command is given, you’ll get a feeling of when you should be pressing the buttons, however, they’re so weak it’s hard to make decent use of. Seeing the beat expands the PaRappa icon every time you hit a command, giving you a clearer idea when you pressed a button; the only time I used this was to overcome that damn chicken, and even then, I still think it was pure luck that I managed to bake that bloody cake.
PaRappa the Rapper Remastered is a small game, but it has a lot of heart, and returning after 20 years doesn’t really ruin the memory of the original. Its lag on inputting the commands is pretty poor, and you have to work out some secret method of succeeding which isn’t something you should have to do. There is still a level of charm to it, and the visuals in the actual gameplay segments have been greatly improved, even if the cutscenes haven’t. The music is awesome, with some levels having alternative music tracks, the characters are mind-bogglingly diverse, and they all have their individual styles to allow for plenty of replayability despite the short play time.
Colourful and happy feel lifts your mood
Characters are bizarre and endearing
Lag is unforgiveable
Cutscenes are unchanged and look dated