Back in 1997, the gaming world was introduced to Masaya Matsuura's 2-D creation Parappa the Rapper for the Sony PlayStation. This little hero charmed his way into the gaming community with his rapping skills and his never-quit mantra of "I gotta believe!" Ten years later, Parappa embarks on a comeback tour with an enhanced port of his original adventure on the Sony PSP, a game that, despite being enjoyable, fails to hold one's interest for long.
In the game, Parappa works to win the heart of his friend Sunny, a sunflower with a sweet smile and a pleasant attitude. He finds competition in the form of Joe Chin, a snot-nose jock who likes to talk up everything and anything involving him. However, with the help of some friends and a high level of confidence (he uses the phrase "I gotta believe!" very often), Parappa pushes to get into a rapping competition, where he hopes Sunny will finally notice him.
Gameplay works the same as it did ten years ago. Players press buttons in a timed manner with led by a passing icon at the top of the screen. The in-stage character does it first, with Parappa mimicking the action. It takes practice to master and gamers will repeat stages to get the hang of things. However, it works just as well as it did in the original Parappa, without any real hitches getting in the way.
The game bounces all over the place in terms of creativity. Each stage represents a challenge that Parappa must face before moving on to the next level. These include attempting to earn a driver's license from the no-nonsense Instructor Mooselini, getting combat skills from Chop Chop Master Onion and learning how to cook with the help of Cheep Cheep Cooking Chicken (yes, a chicken teaching cooking -- sweet irony). Sony stretched the game across the PSP's widescreen and it looks good. The music, as expected, remains a huge asset to the game, going from Mooselini's fun driving groove ("I...forgot...to close...the door!") to Prince Fleaswallow's slow reggae jam ("In the rain or in the snow, feel the funky, funky flow!")
To avoid releasing a straight-up port, SCEA threw in a couple of noteworthy extras. The game supports multiplayer, with up to four players able to determine whether they perform "cool" or sink to the depths of rapping "awful". It works better than one might expect, though it grows stale over time. Game Sharing also comes into play, so gamers can share the Parappa experience. Finally, players can access remixed tracks for no additional charge.
Sadly, that sums up all the new content. Players can beat it within an hour and never play it again.
Nevertheless, it's good to see Parappa the Rapper on the PSP. Let's hope that the little dog's journey to rapping greatness doesn't end here. A third Parappa game would be worth believing in.