Developer(s) – NanaOn-Sha
Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment
Designer – Mayasa Matsuura
Credited as the first true rhythm game as a precursor to the 1978 game Simon, PaRappa the Rapper went on to become the 7th best selling game of 1997, and garnished many positive reviews from critics, as well as two gaming awards and net sales of 1.4 million units worldwide. But even at the time, I was less than impressed by the game, and have never been able to understand the appeal behind it.
Graphics – 5/10
One of the main talking points of the game is the unusual art direction, which was implemented to visually realize the game. Inspired by American graphic artist Rodney Greenblat, it features 2D characters in a 3D environment. Hats off to the developers for trying something that was very new at the time, but the general design of the game was about the only original thing the game had going for it in terms of graphics. The character designs are particularly poor, and by that token, the overall visual style of the game can only be appreciated for so long, the way I see it.
Gameplay – 0/10
PaRappa the Rapper may have began the entire rhythm game genre, but it always has been, and most probably always will be, an extremely bad genre of video games. To me, the only thing that the rhythm games have been good for is influencing the idea of including context-sensitive gameplay into certain games, such as God of War or Dante’s Inferno. But as a standalone genre, I don’t think its worth anybody’s time.
Controls – 10/10
There are no issues with the game’s control scheme at least, but how hard could it have been to implement? Compared to adventure games and RPGs and so forth, I fail to see how there could have been much thought and effort put into how players play the game.
Lifespan – 0.5/10
Even for players unfamiliar with the rhythm game genre, this game will take about 40 minutes to complete, which is utterly pathetic. By that token alone, it’s impossible for the developers to justify charging full price at the time when there were many more and greater games out by then.
Storyline – 0/10
When I first played PaRappa the Rapper as a kid, I thought the story seemed as ridiculous as the gameplay, and decided not to touch it again after the first level. After watching how the rest of the game’s story plays out, I discovered I wasn’t missing anything. The best thing I can say about the game’s story and the titular character is that they promote self-confidence. PaRappa lives by his motto of “I gotta believe”, and it helps him to attain his goals throughout the game. But other than this one flicker of positivity, there’s not much else I can praise the game’s story for. The voice acting as well as the basic premise is laughable at best.
Originality – 5/10
Although Parappa the Rapper perpetuated an original idea, which led to an entire genre, I personally would most rather not have seen it happen at all. Developers had put much more thought into their games than the developers of PaRappa the Rapper clearly did, and because of that, it’s clear to see why many rhythm game series have been discontinued since, such as Space Channel 5, Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
In summation, Parappa the Rapper is an awful wretched game that to me should never have seen the light of day. A sequel followed, which is even worse in my opinion and there are rumours of a third game in the works. In which case, count me out.