Back in the days when I attended university, and a little bit afterwards, I used to have the Parappa the Rapper soundtrack on CD and played it at length in the car with my friends in the back seat. This must have been, what 10 or so years ago? I mean… this game is legendary to me and I needed – NEEDED – everyone else to hear the glorious soundtrack of this game. Repeatedly. Repetitively. Endlessly. They had to be able to rap it along with me. That was the level of dedication I expected from everyone. In fact, I’m going to see them tomorrow so I will go with high expectations when I randomly throw lyrics in their faces. Particularly when they have to check and turn the signal to the left. And remember: you’ve got to do what?
YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW, DO YOU? YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU HAVE TO DO? I AM NOT PLEASED. GO RESEARCH IT. THEN GET BACK TO ME YA BASTARD.
Here’s an interesting little tidbit about this game that you won’t know unless you’re one of the people who were part of the project: back in year 9/10 (I forget which year, it was a LONG time ago, OK? Sod off), some school friends and I decided to video an RE project in the form of a news report (and weather… which was fucking pointless but it was hilarious). The opening theme to this game was the opening theme to our RE report. The entire thing is a vaguely doo-wop sounding intro that finishes with “YA GOTTA DO WHAT? I GOTTA BELIEVE!” which basically is TAILOR-MADE for this kind of project. Of course it was amazing. IT INVOLVED PARAPPA THE RAPPER.
I MANAGED TO GET PARAPPA THE RAPPER INTO AN RE LESSON.
I would say “we” but the whole thing was my fucking idea. And yes it was. You fucking know it was. I’m talking to you guys in the group. You know it was. My mum still thinks what we did was weird. I don’t blame her. Looking back, I think it was weird too.
OFF TOPIC NOW. On a more related note… Parappa the Rapper is the kind of game that can cheer you up just by existing. It is, and you know this is coming if you know my reviews by now, immeasurably charming in so many ways, you can’t even begin to fathom it. We’re talking characters, graphics, sound, story and literally EVERYTHING about this fucking treasure. It’s a phenomenally well thought-out idea and it comes together so beautifully, you cannot FAIL to be taken in by it. It is a bit of a lost soul in gaming in that it ought to have a fair number of sequels by now. Unfortunately, the rhythm action game market got saturated entirely by DDR clones and DDR revamps and all that gubbins, so eventually there wasn’t enough room for what I can only describe as the Playstation’s rhythm game pioneer. This charming little pup… he’s just…
Seriously. This guy. He might look like the kind of thing you could draw on the back of a napkin in a bar late one night but that kinda is part of the charm. He’s a simple guy and he has a very simple motto in life by which he always – ALWAYS – goes by: I GOTTA BELIEVE.
He wants to be a rapper and, bless him, he’s got all the confidence of a shaky hand on the X Factor being belittled by Simon Cowell. He won’t even pick up the courage to ask out the ‘lovely’ (his words, not mine, she’s a fucking sunflower) Sunny Funny on a date. He eventually does it through the power of belief and it’s a lesson to us all that if you put a little faith into yourself, you can achieve anything – a marvellous mantra to follow and, actually, quite impressive in the grand scheme of gaming nowadays. You don’t shoot anything, you don’t diss anyone, you just go out into the world and DO YOUR BEST.
THAT SOUNDS RIDICULOUS. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THIS GAME EXISTS? Well, considering the the poor sales of the game, I’m surprised we even managed to get this game over here in the first place. It sold well enough in Japan but over here? Scraped a top 40 chart position.
It’s basically a shitty girlband in the UK singles charts in the 90s.
Saddest comparison ever. Fact.
Now then… I suppose I’d better explain the game itself to you, hadn’t I? Essentially, Parper wants to win the heart of Sunny Funny and goes about it in all manner of different ways to build his confidence. He never officially walks up to her and actually ASKS her out. He goes round the houses and tries to be all nice and gentlemanly about things. He learns karate to build up a bit of self-belief initially, with the help of everyone’s allium sensei, Chop Chop Master Onion.
These fucking names. They’re glorious in how simplistic and shit they are. I don’t even care. They’re brilliant. How can you NOT love a character called Chop Chop Master Onion? He’s GLORIOUS. LOOK AT HIM. THE THINGS HE’LL TEACH YA, ARE SURE TO BEAT YA.
You do a lot of kicking, punching, blocking and chopping in this level. This is basically your semi-training level. You do have to BEAT it of course, but of course, it helps that it’s not too difficult to begin with. The game introduces you to a bar of dots along the top of the screen with the controller’s symbols interspersed across it. As your character’s face passes over it, you have to press the appropriate button to rap. Sensei goes first and then you go next. If you suck, you go down a rating from Good to Bad and eventually, if you suck too hard, you’ll become Awful. Worse than that and Sensei basically tells you you’re too shit to continue and you have to start again. BOOM, MO-FO. Better find your rhythm fast, bro. You’re gonna need it here. If, by any chance, you decide to freestyle it and actually manage to rap so amazingly that you don’t need help, you can become Cool, which means Sensei disappears and leaves you to it to freestyle your way through the rest of the stage. What is brilliant about the songs you hear is that the worse you get, the worse the song sounds. Chirpy riffs are replaced by minor key riffs, slide whistles and baseline duck quacks. It’s basically the sonic equivalent of a slap in the face that eventually turns into strangling you, asking you “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”
Once you obtain your black belt in being a bit good at karate, Popper’s next task is to get a car because Piper’s love rival Joe Chin (JOE FUCKING CHIN!) has a clearly-compensating-for-something car that the girls LOOOOOOOOVE because SEXISM. So Pampers needs to get his driver’s licence so he can borrow his dad’s car to take Sunny Funny out. Instructor Mooselini’s the lady in charge and she’s got the game’s funkiest song. It’s a simple piano-led ditty that takes you through the rigours of a driving test with plenty of head-tilting and crap car-related lyrics talking about turning left and asking why they had to stop the car. It’s brilliantly shit but there’s an even more brilliantly shit one coming up. THERE IS A PUN THERE BUT YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT!
So Purple crashes the car after his ‘date’ which includes his other two friends Katy Kat and PJ Berri. Not much of an actual date happens. But anyway, Pimpdog embarrasses himself and needs some fast cash so Prince Fleaswallow, a giant reggae-loving frog who works at a flea market, selling everything he possibly can, including skunks, pumps for trucks and bottlecaps. Most of his songs involve pressing the same button rhythmically so it can SOUND easy enough but on the harder difficulty setting, you can easily get the timing off and bugger it all up. But Pooper Scooper eventually sells everything, earns the money to fix his dad’s car and then is back to square one with how to impress Flowerface.
So he does what any good pup would do! HE BAKES A CAKE. Cheap Cheap the Cooking Chicken guides him towards the Bake-Off crown by making a SEAFOOD CAKE no less. I KNOW. IT SOUNDS REVOLTING. IT PROBABLY IS. I DON’T EVEN KNOW. Just imagine fish in a cake. Sound nice? Then fine, carry on. Sound revolting? Then fine, carry on.
Here she is now, helping out with all this lovely caking.
And here she is getting very annoyed at you for not caking appropriately. She ain’t fucking around with you, you can tell. If she got any hotter under the collar, she’ll basically cook herself. Then you could feed Sunny Funny a nice casserole.
WHAT? Stop looking at me like that.
So seafood cake looks just like the riddle apparently. After you make it, you clearly went back home to work out what riddle she’s talking about because I ain’t got a fucking clue. But either way… Pompadour takes Sunny for an evening’s picnic, eats too much cake and needs to poop on the way home.
I AM NOT KIDDING YOU.
AND THUS BEGINS THE SINGLE BEST MOMENT IN GAMING HISTORY: THE RAP BATTLE TO SEE WHO GETS TO USE THE TOILET FIRST.
IT IS… (wait for it…) BRILLIANTLY SHIT.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! It was worth it.
Beat all of your guides to the toilet by rapping with them using mangled toilet-enhanced lyrical versions of their previous raps. I sorta wish I was kidding and yet don’t at the same time. You genuinely could not write this shit… although someone clearly did… so there is that.
Anyway. Look at the pained expressions on both of their faces. THAT is the sign of a labour of love with this game. They could have been really lazy and just had the characters holding their groins a lot but the fact that they actually did what they did to make it LOOK painful was a neat touch.
Also frazzled Cheap Cheap is double cooking herself. She might be a bit chewy by now. Best chucked away.
And all this is in aid of wooing a sunflower-faced girl who actually fancies you back at this point anyway. After all of the wooing, that is. But you sorta left her at a petrol station because you needed to poop. I suppose if you were going to have a big rap battle spectacular, that might just about do the tri-
OH OF COURSE YOU ARE.
So Puptown Funk wins Sunshine Funshine’s love and they pretty much ride off into the sunset being all cute and 2D and everyone lives happily ever after apart from maybe Joe Chin (JOE FUCKING CHIN!) because he has a massive car, no dick to speak of and he’s a bigger douche than is measurable in gaming numbers.
The soundtrack’s ace far too ace to even comprehend, the graphical style is so fucking brilliant, it’s a shame that there isn’t more of this style going around. The paper-thin 2D models are just brilliant and charming and the way the character’s are able to be as expressive as they are, even in this style, is testament to the design team for actually having a go at something unusual.
OK, so the story’s about as thin as the character models but fucking hell, adding a story around a rhythm action game is like trying to join a massive chain of paper clips around the equator of the Earth: you don’t really need to do but you can if you want to.
Don’t though. I don’t want that responsibility weighing on me when someone says they tried to do it and nearly drowned. Fuck you, that was your choice. Don’t blame me.
Besides, there are better things you could be doing than making a massive paper clip chain. Learn to drive. BUT MAKE SURE MOOSELINI CLOSES THE FUCKING DOOR. Sell bottlecaps. BUT MAKE SURE PRINCE FLEASWALLOW GIVES YOU YOUR CUT AND DOESN’T JUST GIVE YOU LOVE AS PAYMENT. Make a cake. NOT SEAFOOD CAKE. I TRIED IT. THERE’S A REASON PEOPLE DON’T MAKE IT.
And hey, if you’re really stuck for ideas, have a rap battle to see if you can take a shit or not.
NO. I KNOW.
I GOTTA BELIEVE!
AND TAKE A SHIT.