PaRappa the Rapper
I remember playing a demo of PaRappa the Rapper way back in 1997 when it was first released on the PS1. I enjoyed its mix of simple but addictive music based gameplay and quirky sense of style but was never tempted to shell out cold hard cash for a full copy. Read between the lines in that opening couple of sentences and you'll find out pretty much all you need to know about the attractiveness of this nearly identical 2007 PSP version of the classic rhythm action title.
First up the positives, it's essentially the exact same game as it was back in '97, containing as it does the same six raps and identical 'push the buttons in time with the music' gameplay as it always did. The game's main story mode sees you guide PaRappa through each song as he tries to woo Sunny Funny, the girl/flower of his dreams, by learning how to fight, drive and make money (if only it was that simple for the rest of us). The songs themselves are still amongst the most memorable ever seen in a video game possessing hooks a plenty to keep them firmly lodged in your head long after you've put the game away. Pressing the correct button when prompted in time with the music to help PaRappa perform his sections of each rap (imagine a dance mat in your hand and you'll get the idea) is still fun, but to be honest the last ten years has seen the rhythm action genre move forward enough that PaRappa's simple repeat after me Simon-Says approach feels a little basic and unrefined. It does however still looks as good as it ever did. The brightly coloured hand drawn feel of the paper thin 2D characters in their 3D world remains as basic but effective as it did back in the late 90's. In fact, if anything things look far sharper and clearer than ever now thanks to the PSP's impressive screen. It's a bit disappointing that the cut scenes between songs are only presented in a small window in the middle of the screen, rather than having been re-sampled to a resolution more suited to the PSP, but it's not the end of the world by any means.
Unfortunately despite retaining all those positive features the same problem that stopped me spending my money on it ten years ago remains also, in fact it stands out even more in today's more mature games market than it did back then. In these days where gamers are used to ten-plus hours of entertainment out of titles the most obvious failing of PaRappa is its length. With only six songs available it's not going to offer any kind of challenge for even the most rhythmically challenged of gamers, I managed to complete all six songs inside two hours which for a full price title is a little embarrassing. To be fair there are remixes of each song available for download once the original song has been completed but like a lot of remixes these are never a touch on the originals and having them as downloads rather than on the disk to start with smacks of last minute desperation rather than any real sense of added value for money. The sole new gameplay mode is the addition of Ad-Hoc multiplayer but since this amounts to nothing more than simply playing the same stage at the same time and competing for high scores it's hard to get too excited about it.
Had this been released as a direct to PSP download and priced at somewhere around a fiver I'd be slapping a big fat ninety percent at the end of this review and telling everyone who's got a couple of hours to fill and fancies some simple smile inducing gaming to grab their PSP and download it. However, having to fork out close to four times that for those same couple of hours fun is a sure fire way of removing the smile from the equation altogether. If you find it cheap somewhere or fancy renting it then you'll doubtless have some fun with it. But can I hand on heart recommend anyone paying full price for it? Nope, not in the slightest, but I kind of wish I could.