PaRappa the Rapper was always an interesting game. It was always super lame, yet in its own way awesome giving it a cult status, and with its Remaster on PS4, we are reminded of its many flaws, along with those moments that made it great.
If you are unaware, PaRappa the Rapper Remastered tells the story of a rapping dog who is trying to impress a flower named Sunny. This involves him going through some steps such as getting a drivers licence and baking a cake, each of which requires passing a test, by rapping. The game is equal parts weird and absurd, yet has a nice 2000s charm about it.
The fundamental gameplay of PaRappa the Rapper is a basic rhythm game. The person teaching and testing you has a line or two where it shows them hitting the prompts you will need to hit, then you have your turn. They can come quick, hard, and even utilise the shoulder button on the controller. Hitting all the notes in time can get you a good score, but to get a great score you need to move away from the beaten path.
Between notes, you can keep pressing the buttons and PaRappa will say words, which is called freestyling. To get the highest grade you need to do a lot of freestyling and maintain it. This gameplay quirk is what gives PaRappa the Rapper its unique feeling and makes it stand out as a game. On top of this is the way the games visuals and audio change depending on how you are doing.
If you manage to get to great then your instructor leaves and you are left to freestyle to the end of the song, or until your rating drops back down to good. If your rating drops below good then the audio along with the visuals can change significantly, and if you drop lower the song ends. A good example of this, thanks to many replays, is the level Cheap Cheap the cooking chicken. The stage has you baking a cake as Cheap Cheap instructs on how to make a cake on the TV. If you drop down she pops out of the TV and gets angry. If you fail she lays an egg which hatches and the baby chick advises of your failure.
As far as Remasters go, PaRappa edges on the side of preservation. The cut scenes are displayed with a colourful border that keeps the videos to the same resolution as the original, and with its quality, it could be the original clips. The stages themselves have been tidied up, but thanks to the games art style of almost paper craft characters, the game does look dated, albeit charming. Some other UI changes have been made, such as the button prompts looking different, but for the most part, the game is its original, just tidied up a little.
There is also an issue with timing. The timing to hit the prompt required you to hit the button just before the head was on the button prompt. This may have been an issue in the original or may be an issue with porting between the two technologies, but once you hit the harder levels like baking a cake it becomes frustratingly apparent until you discover this. The game isn’t overly long either, with only six stages. Thanks to the freestyle option, how hard it is to get the hang of the line between freestyling and failing, the game does have a significant amount of replay value.
6.5/10 – PaRappa the Rapper is an interesting example of a remaster. Polished in some areas, preservation in others, and a dated game that thanks to relatively simple gameplay is still a lot of fun. Fans should find value in the Remaster, and people who missed it should also be able to find plenty of value.