Flashback: PaRappa the Rapper is the world’s greatest canine rapper.

Is everybody's favorite rap battling dog as good as we remember him?

Every Friday in honor of #flashbackFriday (yes, I went there) I plan on looking back at a classic game that had either a profound impact on my gaming career or impacted the industry in some way. Let’s be clear, I AM NOT reviewing these games, but rather expressing how I remember them in comparison with how I feel about them now after having played through them again.  

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This week I decided to combine my love of gaming with my passion for music and talk about everybody’s favorite rap battling dog, PaRappa the Rapper.

PaRappa the Rapper is a rhythm based game that originally came out for the PlayStation 1 back in the glorious year of 1996.  The game centers around PaRappa who is some kind of an anthropomorphic, rapping, dog-like, thing. PaRappa aspires to be the world’s greatest “hip hop hero” while simultaneously winning the heart of his beloved flower friend named Sunny Funny.

So in essence the story is about a dog trying to win the love of a flower through various hip-hop battles.  Alright, so maybe there are some plot holes in the story, but playing a rhythm game for the story is like Donald Trump trying to not make a fool of himself, it could happen, but probably not.

I have to admit, this is one of the first games I remember playing on my PS1 (definitely the first rhythm game I’d ever played), and I was absolutely infatuated with almost everything about it. The eye-popping visuals, the simple yet challenging levels, and of course the incredible soundtrack.  

So did this genre-pioneering game withstand the test of time?

Yes and no.  

Let’s start with the yes. PaRappa the Rapper is still an amazing game based solely on the soundtrack.  It is easily one of my favorite video game soundtracks ever (and ranks quite high with many others as well) and the songs are just as catchy and infectious as they were nearly 20 years ago. Nailing the rhythm so the song doesn’t skip a beat is just as satisfying as it was back then. Composer Masaya Matsuura took really special care to make each song as unique and fun as possible. The songs are so good because they represent the characters behind them so incredibly well. It gives a sense of believability and purpose to actually rapping while making a cake or learning kung fu. 

Unfortunately for me, this is where the nostalgia goggles come off and I really start to see the flaws that existed within this game.  

In my version (I’m not sure if this happened to everyone), anytime that I would pause the game, walk away, and come back, I would have to restart the level from the beginning which turned out to be quite annoying. The visuals, although definitely unique and endearing, really did not age well and start to look like a pop-up book gone bad very quickly.

The gameplay is not at all as challenging as I remember it and if you’re good you can actually beat the game in around 40 minutes.

PaRappa the Rapper is far from a bad game, and is definitely worth playing for anyone who has never picked it up. Regrettably, as an avid fan when I was younger, this title has shifted from what I remember being a great game to more of just being an excellent soundtrack.

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Image of Larry Iaccio
Larry Iaccio
Lover of all things media, especially music and video games. Been playing drums in the Philadelphia pop-punk scene for years. Final Fantasy VII, Bioshock, GTA V, The Legend of Zelda & Super Smash Bros. are among my favorite games, so I'm all over the place. When I'm not gaming or playing music I'm usually watching way too much anime. Let's talk about stuff!