Why PaRappa the Rapper will always be my hip hop hero.
Eminem, Dr. DRE, Snoop Dog, Jay-Z, hell, even 50 Cent. All these renowned superstar rappers have one thing in common: they ain’t got sh** on Parappa.
Parappa was the only MC I respected when I was younger. He could adapt to a variety of styles including reggae, his songs were accompanied by hard house beats, and they were all intricately interlaced with thought provoking lyrics. I would have never passed my driving test without Parappa’s helpful insight of how to ‘step on the gas’, and of course to ‘check, and turn, and signal to the right’. My culinary skills would be almost worthless unless I knew how to ‘crack, crack, crack the egg into the bowl’or how to ‘M-I-X the flour into the bowl’. I can confidently walk the city streets because I’m aware that if I ever had to ‘kick, punch, it’s all in the mind’. Thanks to Parappa, I developed an acute eye for bargains such as ‘the pump over here comes with the truck’. People have often complimented me, remarking that even ‘in the rain or in the snow, I got the funky flow’. I can confidently say that without Parappa’s guidance, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today.
I Gotta Believe!
The story of Parappa The Rapper is one that every guy can relate to. You’ve fallen for a girl but there’s a problem: she’s constantly being hounded by some pretentious douche bag that is doing everything he can to impress her. Instinctively, you see this douche bag as a threat to your chances with the girl. In this case, Parappa (a paper-thin, puppy with attitude) has fallen for a girl named Sunny Funny (who is basically a flower-like girl). However, Sunny has another admirer named Joe Chin, a rich, egotistical dog, or said douche bag in this case. Intimidated by Joe Chin’s extravagant attempts to impress Sunny, Parappa decides that he needs to up his game if he’s to win Sunny’s heart.
In his attempts to impress Sunny, Parappa learns karate and successfully obtains his driving licence (chicks dig wheels) all through the medium of rap. Unfortunately, Parappa manages to crash his Dad’s car and thus has to work at a flea market to recoup enough money for the repairs. Parappa also has to bake a birthday cake for his sweet heart, convince his former mentors so that he can skip to the front of the line for the toilet, and finally, perform at Club Fun where he expresses his true feelings for Sunny through song. A story which, quite frankly, puts 8 Mile to shame.
Masters Of Ceremonies
Parappa raps with a number of mentors who magically enable him to achieve his goals.
The gameplay in Parappa the Rapper is delightfully simple. Guided by some of the most memorable characters in video game history, (such as Chop Chop Master Onion), Parappa raps with a number of mentors who magically enable him to achieve his goals.
The mentors bust out simple, old school raps which Parappa must repeat correctly but most importantly, match the timing of the song. Your performance is continually monitored by the ‘U’rappin’ system which consists of ‘COOL’, ‘GOOD’, ‘BAD’ and ‘AWFUL’. Spitting out the correct lyrics with perfect timing will result in a ‘U rappin’ ‘GOOD’ rating, however, mistime or get the lyrics wrong and your level will eventually drop to ‘U rappin’ ‘AWFUL ‘ resulting in your mentor ending the rap. All levels must be completed with ‘U rappin’ ‘GOOD’.
Surprisingly, this is no easy task! The deceptive genius of Parappa the Rapper is the fact each part of the mentor’s rap is assigned to a button. Therefore, if Chop Chop Master Onion requested you to ‘kick, punch, chop and block’, then ‘kick’ would be assigned to the ‘X’ button and ‘punch’ to the ‘square’ button for example. Therefore, using the beat, and making sure you followed the correct timing, eventually, you could spam the buttons resulting in hilarious incoherent babbling. This is also how the freestyle system operates. Once a level has been completed, the ‘U’rappin’ rating of ‘COOL’ becomes available. To achieve a ‘U’rappin’ COOL rating, the player must freestyle rap using the sequence provided but ultimately make sure that they keep in time with the rhythm of the song.
Parappa the Rapper has one of the most wonderful and imaginative art styles of any game I’ve ever played. The distinctive style was created by Rodney Greenblat, an American graphic artist whose work is widely held in Japan. All the characters in the game are 2D and flat, as if they had leapt off the pages of a children’s book. Subtle touches such as the stink lines emanating from Chop Chop Master Onion, the frog Master Price Fleaswallow’s scruffy features, or the fact the driving instructor Moouselini’s antlers protrude through the car’s roof all emphasise the colourful and bizarre world of Parappa the Rapper.
The Real Bow Wow
As with all genres of music, there is always a pioneer, an innovator who starts a revolution and will always be regarded as the king. For the rhythm genre, this was Parappa the Rapper. We’ve had great rhythm music games such as Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Singstar since, but all of these titles have Parappa the Rapper to thank for paving the way. Catchy songs, simplistic yet rewarding gameplay, and all the charm of a Disney movie, Parappa the Rapper will always be my hip hop hero.