Lionhead diary filmmaker responds
Critical gaming discourse

Got the funky flow?

In the rain or in the snow
Got the got the funky flow
All you ever need is to be nice and friendly
All you ever need is to be nice and friendly

Parappadrive_2 PaRappa the Rapper is a game full of whimsy. It exudes a zestful balance of childish exuberance and funky cool. Try as they might, Guitar Hero and Rock Band--PaRappa's music/rhythm game descendants--fall well short of achieving the individual flair that permeates PaRappa the Rapper. Primitive by today's standards, PaRappa still manages to cram a whole lot of fun into a relatively short game.

The goal is to help paper thin PaRappa win the affections of Sunny Funny by learning to rap his way through several tasks, like learning to drive, working at a flea market, and baking a cake. You help PaRappa rap by pressing buttons in time with the music that appears on-screen. Match it well and you move on. Fall out of rhythm, and you fail. Once you've passed every level with a rating of "cool," PaRappa can rap on his own, freestyle. It's here that the replay value of the game goes way up.

Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind.

I struggled to time the button presses in the PSP version of PaRappa. The manual recommends using headphones, but for some reason I had better luck listening through the PSP speakers. A certain rap-zen state is required to pass through each lesson. I found that if I failed more than 3 times in a row, I would never succeed in that session. Walking away, relaxing, and returning to the game usually meant success on the very next try for me. I also found that, no matter how alert I felt, I could make no progress whatsoever after 1 a.m.. Returning to the game after a night's sleep made me feel like a PaRappa champion, succeeding within the first couple of tries.

I think the FAA should require every pilot to bake a cake with Cheap Cheap the Chicken before takeoff. Succeed and you fly. Fail and you're grounded. Flight delays? Don't blame PaRappa.

When Jet Baby loves
She loves all of the children
She never lets them cry
As she sails through the sky
To save us from what fails us to make us love

Just what is it about Japanese games like PaRappa and Katamari that make us smile at their charm and silliness, while other games that try to be "whimsical" make us blanch at their cloying effort to be cute (sorry Viva Pinata)?

I think it has something to do with a total lack of self-consciousness in the art style, music, and character design. PaRappa isn't campy fun. It's quite the opposite. It creates its own absurd universe and revels in that perfectly delightful self-contained environment. PaRappa presents a loving embrace of this fanciful world, free of irony or snarky winks at the camera. You can resist this and likely find it all childish and stupid, or you can give over to it and enjoy the simple lovely ride.

By the way, somebody forgot to tell PaRappa's female driving instructor that only the male moose has antlers...Or maybe they didn't.

Do you know why we stopped the car again?
That's because you just got your license.

If you haven't already, I encourage you to try PaRappa the Rapper. Do not, however, play it late at night. You will probably fail, but even worse, you will *never* get those songs out of your noggin as you lie in bed staring at the ceiling. And don't get discouraged if the game kicks you around a bit. Just keep reminding yourself, "I Gotta Believe!"

Now it's on to Gitaroo Man!