PARAPPA THE RAPPER / Sony / Playstation
Man, I had a hard time deciding how to rate this game. It's a personal favorite from back in the day, wildly creative and memorable, and yet when you look at it objectively, there's serious issues with the gameplay - namely, that it's annoyingly finicky, and that there just isn't enough of it.
Ultimately I had to come down with the big Meh Face. The reason is that you'll blow through the game in two days at most, leaving you with nothing else to do with it but replay levels for higher scores ... and a number of these levels you may not even want to replay, given how odd the timing seems to be and how frustrating/repetitive it can all get.
Parappa has only six levels of rapping ahead of him, as he tries to win the heart of his crush Sunny and works his way through various mishaps like totalling his dad's car and battle-rapping for the right to use the bathroom. As the animated characters dance and the song plays in each level, a bar at the top of the screen indicates what buttons you are supposed to push and when. The bars generally line up with the beat of the song in some way, but there's a few cases where they don't, and often they seem to either lag or precede the beat by a fraction of a second.
The music is surprisingly good and groovy, but apparently the lyrics were seriously mangled in translation. They end up being so awkward and goofy, though, that they come out lovable in the end anyway.
This game was really the perfect rental, but a hard sell to take home for good. There's little in the way of bonus modes of play - there's a Practice mode that's so short and simple that it's useless, and you can play an Easy mode that is extremely forgiving for the first three levels, but that's about it. If you freestyle well enough while playing any of the six normal levels, the instructor will step off the stage and let you just go nuts while the background changes to some trippy shiz, but if you deviate from the rhythm too much they yank you back into the stage proper. The "freestyling" mechanics are so random that more than ten years after the game's original release no one has yet to really figure them out.
PaRappa ends up almost being more fun to watch than to play, since most of the joy is in the animation (which I suspect is what a great deal of the limited budget was allocated to, thus explaining some of the game's other problems), and in the little details that shift as your rap ranking changes based on your performance. Thus, you might just be better off checking it out on Youtube than actually shelling out dollars for it.
Amazing how many people made this mistake