Rhythm Games – PaRappa the Rapper (1996)
Combining simple rhythm driven game play, unusual graphics with 2-dimensional characters and 3-D backgrounds, and a level about getting to a toilet, PaRappa the Rapper ushered in a golden age of rhythm-based gameplay.
Similar to the Simon party game which required players to repeat sequences of button presses, PaRappa required the player to push buttons rhythmically along with music. The call-response behavior meant that the player spent half the gameplay watching the computer’s demonstration. If the player did badly, the song would be cut short and the player would fail; success rewarded the player with more plot and a new song. The game is filled with characters like Teriyaki Yoko, Sunny Funny, Instructor Mooselini, and Chop Chop Master Onion.
PaRappa sold extremely well. In 1999 it spawned a spinoff, “UmJammer Lammy“, with an optional guitar accessory. An anime series based on the game’s characters was released in 2001, quickly followed by a sequel on the PlayStation 2. Future development ended after the sequel, with the rhythm game genre moving on to more complicated games.
PaRappa was one of the playable fighters in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. His ultimate super attack quotes the last level of the original game, ending with his trademark “I Gotta Believe!” which instantly eliminates all his opponents.
Gift of Ben Wilhelm, 2013.005.001