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Parappa The Rapper

PaRappa the Rapper is finally here, but does it live up to the hype?

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony Music Entertainment
Genre: NONE

It isn t very often that a game like PaRappa finds its way out of the great cookie-cutter factories they call games development houses. For quite a while Sony was unsure if it should release PaRappa here, fearing US gamers wouldn t find the game as amusing as they did in Japan. Whether it actually does catch on remains to be seen, but if I have anything to do with it every PlayStation owner will soon be rapping along with PaRappa.

The game concerns PaRappa (a rapping dog) and his multi-specied friends PJ Berri, Sunny Funny, and Katy Kat. Appearing almost more like a cartoon than a game, it chronicles PaRappa s life, including his fascination with Sunny Funny, a sunflower. PaRappa faces the same kinds of hurdles most teens do -- learning courage, getting a driving license, going on dates -- but the way the game is presented is what makes it so intriguing. All of the characters are flat like slips of paper (indeed PaRappa means paper thin ) and look like they ve been run over by steamrollers, Tom and Jerry style. It s very odd but cool at the same time.

However, the meat of PaRappa lies in the rapping segments of the game. To get to the next stage, you must mimic a number of teachers, including an onion-headed karate master, a Rastafarian frog, and a moose that sounds a lot like Queen Latifah. Rapping is accomplished by pressing the correct buttons at the correct moments, all in time to the music. It s easy at first, but gets more and more difficult as the game goes on.

While the words may seem a little strange next to folks like the Wu-Tang Clan, remember this game was made in Japan. However, this just ads to the quirky nature of the game. The music is top-notch as well.

PaRappa s only real problem lies in the length of the game -- it s way too short. However, once you ve beaten it in good standing, you can ad-lib, or freestyle, in the levels. This adds to the replayability of the game. Plus, it s worth playing again just to hear the great music!

PaRappa isn t for everybody. It s very silly and odd, and somewhat childish. But if you re the kind of gamer that still watches cartoons, you may just fall under the spell of PaRappa. I know I did. I gotta believe!