You can pretty much count the number of PlayStation games from 1996 that actually stand the test of time on a single hand, but Parappa the Rapper is a particularly egregious example of a game that had a deep problem even back then: it's a rhythm game that can't keep rhythm.
At their worst, broken games are a valuable lesson in what not to do. But at their best, you get games that overcome major technical shortcomings to deliver exceptional experiences despite their flaws. Parappa the Rapper is almost--almost--in that latter category. After all, it's difficult to put down a game about a rapping dog trying to win the affection of an anthropomorphic sunflower by learning karate from a giant onion, getting his driver's license from a moose, and nearly screwing up his date with her because he can't find a toilet to pee in.
While Parappa and the world he inhabits are amusing, the game he stars in is frustrating to play. The foundation of the game is a call-and-response system: in each stage Parappa is paired with a wacky character with some wisdom to impart via the power of hip-hop. The stage master will drop a silly, nonsense rhyme, each syllable of which corresponds to a timed button press on the controller. You need to copy the pattern and respond with a rhyme of your own.
The linchpin is the game’s attitude. Parappa himself is a loser with no money or prospects who spends his entire day hanging out with his loser friends. He's also constantly being shown up by the very rich and very lame Joe Chin, who shows up in every cutscene to demonstrate how much better he is. And yet, every time the chips are down, Parappa springs up, screams “I gotta believe!” and does something crazy to match Joe with the sheer size of his heart. Parappa is the G-rated version of 8 Mile’s B-Rabbit, and his willingness to overcome every obstacle in his silly life with the power of belief is so charming, it's easy to forget you're getting torn apart on the scoreboard.
There's a generation of gamers who will find Parappa the Rapper Remastered validates all their happiest memories watching Parappa kicking and spinning with Chop Chop Master Onion again, more vibrant and colorful than ever before. But there will come a point when they have to confront how incongruous the aggravating gameplay is with how delightful everything else around it is. The aesthetics and vibe are still unlike anything else out there, and they’re still worth the hassle. But the greatest trick Parappa the Rapper ever pulled was convincing the world it's not a broken game.More in https: »