Title :Parappa the Rapper 2
Platforms :Sony PlayStation 2
Publisher :SCEA
ESRB Rating :Everyone
Game Rating :6.3
Review by :Ken Gagne

You gotta do what? 

You gotta believe! 

Faith is the only thing that will keep you going through Parappa the Rapper 2, Sony's PlayStation 2 sequel to the game that started the "musical game" craze. 

All the food in Parappa Town is turning into noodles. Our rapping puppy, Parappa, and his friends and family must undo the damage and discover the source of this nefarious noodlization. The original Parappa employed whimsical hyperbole to good effect, but this new storyline is purely outlandish. 

Regardless, the rap is mightier than the sword, with gamers invited to wield lyrical tunes in Parappa Town's defense. Each of its eight stages introduces Parappa to a new teacher, who raps a tune for the hip dog to imitate in "follow the bouncing ball" fashion. Following an icon moving across the top of the screen, players must press buttons in timed sequence. A good sense of timing will have Parappa belting out a solid tune and performing an accompanying action; false moves will produce missteps and more noodles. 

The basic gameplay formula is the same as in the previous Parappa game. Any veteran of that game or its ilk, such as Bust a Groove, Dance Dance Revolution, or Samba de Amigo, will breeze through each stage with little trouble or need for retries. There are a few additional gameplay and difficulty modes that welcome gamers back for more, but their flawed premise will put players at unease. 

That flaw is Parappa 2's strong emphasis on freestyle rapping. The best players will surpass their teachers by ignoring their instructions, instead pounding out the moves that fit the funky flow. Unfortunately, the game awards points in an inconsistent fashion; potential rappers will often disagree with the game's judgment of their style, frustrating them into less inspired imitation. Playing this game well feels not so much like getting in the groove as it does puzzling what the computer's thinking. 

The same mysterious scoring system is also nearly fatal to the two-player mode, which the original Parappa game lacked. Any of the stages can be the backdrop for a duel between two human players, or one human and a computer opponent. What's the point of competing if it's indecipherable who's actually the better rapper? 

Of course, the music is what the game's all about. The first Parappa had our homedog rapping clever tunes to common chores, such as earning a driver's license or baking a cake. The sequel's songs are no less clever, but the situations are far less common — activating a shrink ray, practicing "Romantic Karate", and the like — making the songs less memorable. The plays on words still manage to be toe-tapping and innovative. 

Parappa's graphical style is a combination of 2D and 3D storybook artwork. All the characters are paper-thin, which makes for some amusing sequences (such as an ant's slow-motion perspective on a giant, stomping Parappa). The cartoonish look is fun and lighthearted, fitting well with the game's music. The graphics during the raps often cut quickly from scene to scene, but rappers' eyes will be too busy watching the command line to notice. 

Overall, this sequel lacks the originality of the first Parappa. The basic game is only a short romp, but if you want to try your hand at freestyle, don't get cocky, because it's gonna get rocky!

This article is copyright (c) 2002, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 28-Jan-02