The game follows the (mis)adventures of a rapping puppy named PaRappa who attempts to improve himself in order to impress Sunny Funny, the girl he has a crush on, despite being intimidated by the presence of Joe Chin, a rich and narcissistic dog who is also trying to woo Sunny. How does he win Sunny's heart? By rapping his way to glory, of course!
The game works like this: Every stage has one character who raps a song and ask you to perform certain tasks, like learning karate, learning how to drive, selling things at a flea market, etc. in time with the music. You hit a button at the right moment as indicated on a bar at the top of the screen. Effectively, it's a video game version of Simon. Do well and you'll make it through the song; do too badly and you'd have to try again.
But, the rap twist is that during gameplay, PaRappa can deviate heavily from the "teacher", creating his own twisted yet awesome string of button mashes and random sentences, and still score points. In fact, by creating original lines that are synchronized with the rhythm and beat of the teacher's lines, the player can access freestyle-mode, which allows the player to go Ax-Crazy on the controller, make PaRappa look like a superhero doped on crack, and get better endings.
It is a very short and simple game, but the unique premise and the unbelievably catchy songs made it an instant cult classic. It's not only seen as the first definitive modern Rhythm Game, but probably the most influential. Pretty much every Rhythm Game created since, from Dance Dance Revolution to Guitar Hero to beatmania, owes at least a little to PaRappa, if only for starting things off. The game is still highly regarded today, with a 88% on GameRankings.
The game got a large boost from PlayStation Jampack CDs which often included the entire first level (Chop Chop Master Onion) playable.
A sequel named PaRappa the Rapper 2 was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2001, which once more focused on PaRappa (but with cameos from the MilkCan members). PaRappa also produced a spinoff in 1999 called Um Jammer Lammy, which spawned an album called Make It Sweet!.
PaRappa has appeared in other media as well. There was also an Anime of the Game by the same name, but it only lasted two seasons and infamously Parappa only rapped ONCE in the whole anime. Still it has become a Cult Classic and its Canon Foreigner characters Matt Major and Paula Fox are still loved by the fanbase. Before the anime debuted, Rodney Greenblat, the game's illustrator, had created a series of comic books that are decidedly more true to the game than the anime. Later on another anime would air centering on PJ that would also be closer to the games.
On April 26, 2012, PaRappa was announced as a playable inclusion in Play Station All Stars Battle Royale. On December 2015, PaRappa the Rapper 2 was given a re-release on the PlayStation Network, and in April 2017, the original game received a remake titled PaRappa the Rapper Remastered for the PlayStation 4.
- Aerith and Bob: Characters with some rather out-there names (such as PaRappa, Ma-San, and Chop Chop Master Onion) exist alongside more reasonably-named people (such as Katy, Sunny, and Joe).
- Amazing Technicolor Population
- Ambiguous Gender: It is unknown what Jet Baby's gender is. In PaRappa 1, "The Jet Baby Theme Song" refers to the song's title character as a "she", but when PaRappa and his friends walk out of the movie theater, they refer to said character as a "he".
- Animal Gender-Bender:
- Both PaRappa games feature female moose, with antlers.
- It's even weirder in Um Jammer Lammy, which the titular character, who's a lamb and female, has horns.
- Animate Inanimate Object: Only in PaRappa Town can an onion teach you kung-fu, or a dog date a flower.
- Arc Words:
- "I gotta believe!", the catchphrase of (who else?) PaRappa himself.
- In Um Jammer Lammy, Lammy constantly remembers what Chop Chop Master Onion told her: "Dojo, casino, it's all in the mind."
- Bare Your Midriff: Katy Kat's usual outfit features this.
- Big Eater: PJ Berri.
- Bizarrchitecture: To give you a good idea of how interesting PaRappa Town's architecture is, the game's illustrator is an abstract artist.
- Each of the games starts with the characters watching a movie (usually involving "Jet Baby") with the same weird monster. Then, before the first level starts, they go to "Chunky Burger." In UJL, they even take the exact same dialogue for the bully characters who come in as when they did in the first game.
- The bully characters say the same first dialogue lines in PaRappa 2, during a cameo appearance at the start of Stage 5.
- Climax Boss: The Bathroom Rap in 1, Teriyaki Yoko in Um Jammer Lammy, and Colonel Noodle in 2. While they aren't the final stages, they do serve to wrap up the plot before the final concert, and are usually the most difficult stages in their respective games.
- Creator Cameo: Rodney Greenblat, the character designer of the series, has off-and-on cameo appearances throughout the games, most noticeably as a television reporter in PaRappa 2, but also as the basis for the name of "Rodney State" where the characters live, and the singer of the "Jet Baby" song at the beginning of PaRappa 1. Also, in a bonus scene from Um Jammer Lammy, Ma-San is typing a letter to "Mr. Matsuura" (Masaya Matsuura is one of the game's creators).
- Cute and Psycho: Lammy, an utterly adorable red-headed tomboy who hallucinates babies into guitars.
- Dance Party Ending: As a game about music, this goes without saying. The two PaRappa games have PaRappa rapping with MC King Kong Mushi about his heroic actions. The goal of Lammy is to get to the concert that comprises the ending.
- Denser and Wackier: The first PaRappa is fairly down-to-earth and plausible, with challenges such as "passing a driving exam" and "baking a cake", and the title character's main goal being to impress the girl he likes. Um Jammer Lammy, the next game in the series, gets considerably more bizarre, but most of the individual stages are still somewhat grounded at the very least, and the main goal of "get to the concert venue on time" isn't particularly out there. PaRappa 2, on the other hand, involves a Shrink Ray, a crazed hairdresser giving everyone spontaneously growing afros, a video game that leaves the player unable to eat anything but noodles ever again if they should lose, and the overall crux of the plot to turn all the food in the world into noodles.
- Downloadable Content: The PSP rerelease of PaRappa has downloadable alternate versions of the original 5 songs, while Um Jammer Lammy was released for download on the PlayStation Store.
- Dub Name Change: Sometimes averted (Teriyaki Yoko, Ma-San), sometimes played straight (Takoyama-san/Hairdresser Octopus, Niwatori-sensei/Cheap Cheap). The "dub" part is questionable, though...
- Egopolis: PaRappa Town is inexplicably named after... take a guess.
- Feather Fingers: Mostly averted. Nearly all PaRappa characters have humanlike hands regardless of species, including frogs, octopi, and even plants. Interestingly, Cheap Cheap Chicken is one of the few characters, if not the only character, with appendages appropriate for her species, but she seems to be able to manipulate objects just as easily as any human-handed Funny Animal.
- Four-Legged Insect: Averted. All the insect characters have two sets of arms.
- Inexplicably Tailless: Despite being animals, only Katy has a tail showing; there are moments when even her tail is missing!
- Informed Species: The title character is not readily identifiable as a dog.
- Lammy doesn't even resemble a lamb. Name one person who knew she was a lamb / sheep without being told.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Joe Chin has this.
- Letting the Air Out of the Band: Every time you fail a level.
- Limited Social Circle: Notable aversion, but then play straight. Katy's band members Lammy and Ma-san, have never met Katy's other friends. But by the second game they have evidently formed a single social circle close enough to walk into each other's houses without asking.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Actually, it was more like, "Lions and Tigers and Humans and Inanimate Objects... Oh, My!"
- Nice Hat: PaRappa's beanie hat, which he never takes off. What PaRappa looks like underneath his hat is such a such a popular topic, that an entire WMG has been dedicated to the question.
Hairdresser Octopus: Hey, take that stupid hat off! What does it look like in there?PaRappa: Aaa, I'm not sure myself.
- Lampshaded in PaRappa 2, if you fail Stage 5:
- No Fair Cheating: Pausing a level would make it much easier to time your button presses; the games close this loophole by forcing a level restart if you try it.
- Older Than They Look: PaRappa and his friends have child-like appearances, but Word of God says that they're probably teens.
- Once an Episode: A song with Chop Chop Master Onion appears in each game.
- Paper People: There's about one character in the game who isn't in this style. Everyone else is paper-thin. Besides stylistic reasons, this decision was likely made to get past the PS1's hardware limitations; either way, it stuck since.
- Serious Business: The inhabitants of PaRappa Town sure do seem to be into rapping.
- Lampshaded at the beginning of Um Jammer Lammy; Lammy's excuse for being late to her concert was that people wanted to rap for the bathroom, and she only plays guitar. People, please leave the rapping to PaRappa!
- Silliness Switch: Done as a game mechanic. The background has silly things happen (rain during the rap for the bathroom for example) and the music sounds more wacky and terrible if you hit the Bad or Awful ranks.
- "Simon Says" Mini-Game: The entire game can be described as a rhythmic version of Simon.
- Split Screen: Happens in Um Jammer Lammy, when Lammy tries hard to fly a plane with Captain Fussenpepper in Stage 4; and in PaRappa 2, when both PaRappa and Guru Ant are grown big for the final time, while you can see Ma-san getting bored (which doubles as a Funny Background Event), as long as you don't mess up.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: Used for stylistic purposes. See Paper People.
- Take That, Audience!: Failing certain stages will have the instructor call you out for being absolutely terrible. One even suggests that you should be banned from every video game.
- Vague Age: The main cast tends to look and act somewhat childlike, yet PaRappa is apparently old enough to drive.
- Variable Mix: When you start screwing up, so does the music.
- Widget Series: PaRappa may be a little nuts, even by Japanese standards, but Um Jammer Lammy dives nose-first into full-blown widget territory.
- Acid Reflux Nightmare: Implied in the intro to PaRappa 2. PaRappa makes sickly expressions throughout his dream and he wakes up surrounded by discarded noodle containers.
- Actionized Sequel: The first game was about things like taking karate classes, getting a part time job, and getting a driver's license. The second game eventually becomes a game about saving the world from a dietary fate.
- Anti-Frustration Features: The sequel has the difficulty drop during a song if you are screwing up and drop down in rank by making the lyrics more simple, which means less buttons to press or the buttons being spaced farther apart for a slower rhythm. If you do drop down in rank, you get to repeat the section again so you have a shot of recovering.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In PaRappa 2's rap song "Noodles Can't Be Beat", when PaRappa and Colonel Noodle rap about how foods can be in worldly cuisines (while going through quick costume changes to represent each culture of cuisine):Noodle: Chinese, Italian, Thai or Jamaican...
PaRappa: Mexican, Egyptian, English, Korean...
Noodle: Anything goes, even Hawaiian.
PaRappa: Anything goes, even Alaskan.
- Ascended Extra: General Potter only had non-speaking role as Sunny's father in the first game. But in the sequel, he plays a key role in the story.
- Same with Papa PaRappa.
- Audience Participation Song: The final songs in both games have the audience sing along when called for. The master leads the audience at the beginning while PaRappa does it at the end of the song. If you screw up or are just messing around, the audience will perfectly mimic PaRappa's rap style.
- Award-Bait Song: "Come a Long Way" from the second game might count.
- Battle Rapping: In both games, PaRappa has to face all of his mentors at once in a rap battle late in the game. See Boss Rush below for the scenarios of each battle.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Prince Fleaswallow, which is only made clear if you actually listen to his lyrics. He seems to have a god complex, be on the run from the police, only cares about money, and is implied to also be a thief.
- Boastful Rap: the endings to both games, unusually it is a professional rapper boasting about PaRappa.. In addition, half of the second game's third and seventh raps are each this.
- Book-Ends: The second game starts with PaRappa having won a lifetime supply of noodles. At the end, he won another lifetime supply of food, cheese this time.
- Boss Rush: The first game's fifth involves engaging the four mentors from the other songs in a rap battle in order to get to the toilet. The sixth level in PaRappa 2 had a similar premise, with you facing off with the five mentors in a 16-bit video game.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: If you fail Stage 1 of PaRappa 2, Beard Burger Master will say, "Oh man, that was bad. And what is with this noodle thing?" (presumably referring to the noodle pattern that appears around the screen and covers the background in Bad and Awful modes respectively). PaRappa then sighs, "I always screw up at the beginning..."
- Carrying a Cake: Poor, poor PaRappa. Though it's probably just as well—Sunny might have found the design a little offensive.
- Catapult Nightmare: PaRappa does this in the intro of PaRappa 2.
- Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning of first game, PaRappa's final boss stage song, "PaRappa's Live RAP", is heard playing as PaRappa and his friends enter the Chunky Burger restaurant.
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: In the PSP release, PJ Berri and Katy Kat's orders of "a vanilla and a chocolate frosty", respectively, at the burger restaurant mute the word "frosty", possibly because of trademark issues with the Wendy's Frosty.
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: "I ain't got no time for nobody."
- Corpsing: Dred Foxx can't help but laugh a bit during his "melt the cheese" line in Toasty Buns when Beard Burger Master lets out an excited "OW!" between his lines.
- Don't Try This at Home: In the 1st lesson of the 5th stage of the second game, this text is shown in brackets where the lyrics are usually displayed. For the record, the activity shown is hair styling, though it's about as extreme as it can be with people running with scissors.
- Downloadable Content: The PSP rerelease of the first game has downloadable alternate versions of the original 5 songs.
- Ears as Hair: Rare plant variation. Apparently, Sunny Funny's petals are her "hair". They can even be styled into an afro◊ somehow.
- Easy-Mode Mockery: If you want all the stages, you'll have to play on normal difficulty, as easy only allows access to the first three.
- Evil Costume Switch: Colonel Noodles in PaRappa 2. After failing to turn all the burgers into noodles in Stage 1, he moves away during the news report in the intro to Stage 2, and now switches to his signature costume in the intro to Stages 4 and 7. During the rap battle with PaRappa, while they are still convincing each other about which food is better, Noodles suddenly raps that noodles "taste better than water" before water pours down at Noodles on cue, washing his plate off of him along with his glasses and his noodle afro hat; and he is now fully convinced that other foods taste just as good, resulting in a Good Costume Switch back to normal in Stage 8.
- Fake Difficulty: Provided by the original game's cumbersome timing window. This game also debuted before the advent of TVs with extensive video and audio pre-processing, and hence it has no lag adjustment options. Good luck playing it on a modern TV.
- Even more egregious is that this wasn't fixed in the remaster, despite both Um Jammer Lammy and Parappa 2 featuring massive improvements to the timing window.
- Foreshadowing: In PaRappa 2, if PaRappa messes up a segment during stage 1, Beard Burger Master's son is seen laughing from a corner with a strange machine. The machine is the Noodlizer, and it's revealed later that BBM's son is Colonel Noodle.
- Friend to All Children: Discussed by Rodney Greenblat in his "The Jet Baby Theme Song": "When Jet Baby loves, / She loves all of the children."
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Only in the U.S. version of PaRappa 2, Stage 1, even though Beard Burger Master's voice says, "You better get in line!" his lips say, "Taste better than wine!", which was in the Japanese and European versions.
- Justified in Stage 7, in any version of PaRappa 2, when Colonel Noodles raps, "Noodles are the best, no doubt, can't deny, taste better than water, but don't ask me why," in a nod to his father's "Taste better than wine" lyric (Japan/Europe version only), before water pours down at Noodle on cue.
- Funny Background Event: Joe Chin dropping his gigantic, forty-two story high cake near the beginning of the intro for "Full Tank".
- G-Rated Sex: There was an entire level in the sequel where PaRappa practices "Romantic Karate". With his friend P.J. Berri. Hilarity Ensues.
- HeelFace Turn: At the end of PaRappa 2, Colonel Noodles has a change of heart about his plan to turn all the world's food into noodles once PaRappa convinces him that everyone should be allowed to eat the foods they want.
- Here We Go Again!: The opening for PaRappa the Rapper 2 has PaRappa waking up surrounded by noodles, claiming that he won a life-time's supply of them. The game ends with him having dinner at Sunny's, telling the player that, this time, he's won a life-time's supply of cheese.
- Hypocritical Humor: In the intro of Stage 2 in PaRappa 2, PaRappa and PJ's ice cream cones turn into noodles. PJ claims that he "can't eat this" not long before eating the noodles anyway. He also seems to have eaten PaRappa's noodles too.
- I Have No Son!: Implied if you do badly enough in Stage 8 of PaRappa 2. At Awful, Parappa's father is absent from the audience.
- Interspecies Romance: PaRappa's a dog who has a crush on a flower named Sunny. An animal is in love with a plant. According to Word of God, PaRappa could actually have children with Sunny. God only knows what their kids would look like.note
—Rodney Alan Greenblat
- Word of God also put it best:
- Interestingly, in one of the RodneyFun comics, PaRappa mentions wanting to "have many babies" with Sunny.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: Fail stage 5 of the original, and it's heavily implied that PaRappa poops in his pants, symbolized by a video of a rocket blasting off.
- I Want to Be a Real Man: After an incident in the sequel's prologue leads to Sunny calling PaRappa a baby, he spends the whole game trying to act mature. Sunny eventually tells him that he only needs to try his best.
- Kirk Summation: The entire 7th level of PaRappa 2 was about PaRappa trying to convince Colonel Noodles that there are many excellent foods in the world that would be lost if he turned everything into noodles.
- Level One Music Represents: In the PSP re-release of the game, most levels get one or two downloadable remixes. Stage 1 gets five.
- Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded:Hairdresser Octopus: "Hey, take that stupid hat off. What does it look like in there?"PaRappa: "Ahh... I'm not sure myself."
- Logic Bomb: In Prince Fleaswallow's rap, he says "I've been working here [at the flea market] since my mama was a baby". Think about that.
- Mad Libs Dialogue: The first PaRappa game was very prone to this with PaRappa himself with most of his lyrics being obviously spliced to match the button inputs. The sequel does a better job at hiding it, but on the higher difficulty levels, both PaRappa and the masters fall into the trope hard due to how much remixing the lyrics are given and it can sound quite hilarious at times. The sequel's 2 player mode also falls into this since the game will adjust the lyrics to match the button presses of the previous player if it thinks they freestyled good enough.
- The Most Dangerous Video Game: Played for laughs in PaRappa 2. Lose at "Food Court", and you can't eat anything but noodles for the rest of your life.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Word of God states that PaRappa, a dog, and Sunny, a flower, are sexually compatible, and could conceive a child.
- Nostalgia Level: Of sorts. Stage 5 of PaRappa 2 prominently features MilkCan of Um Jammer Lammy, who play the background music.
- Oh, Crap!: If an unused button is pressed, PaRappa will shout "Uh-oh!" in the first game or "Oops!" in the second.
- Old Master: Chop Chop Master Onion.
- Omnicidal Maniac: To an extent in the sequel. Bad guy Colonel Noodles wanted to transform everything just to satisfy his undying love for noodles.
- Potty Emergency: Level 5, "Full Tank", has PaRappa getting this after eating too much cake. Turns into (implied) Potty Failure if you fail the level. Albeit... strangely (and humorously too).
- Pursuing Parental Perils: We learn in the intro to Stage 7 of PaRappa 2 that Beard Burger Master became so obsessed with burgers and their research that he would compel his son Colonel Noodles to eat burgers daily along with everyone else, including Noodles' mother, who became so obsessed with burgers that she turned into one (figuratively). Even worse was that Noodle had become destined to become a burger shop owner like his dad from the day he was born. We're assuming that Beard Burger Master died being obsessed with burger research, and after Noodles ate some pasta and noodles because he loved noodles more than burgers, he decided to start on noodle research and do to the citizens of PaRappa Town what his burger-obsessed father did to him years ago: compel them to eat noodles daily until the day he would die, which is very dangerous indeed!
- Rap the Curse Out Of Him: PaRappa fixes Hairdresser Octopus' obsession with taking people hostage to give them giant afros by beating him in a rap while also helping him snip, cut, trim, dye, and perm people's hair. Oh, and destroy the Noodlizer so his behavior won't continue.
- Retraux: The sixth level in PaRappa 2 is a 16 -bit video game game. Or if you're doing badly, 8-bit. Or if you're doing really badly, Atari 2600 on an Oscillascope display. Subverted if you're doing awesomely, which is in the 32 or 64-bit style.
- Rich Bitch: Joe Chin, sort of.
- Saving the World with Art: The premise of the second game: Colonel Noodles is turning every food in the world into noodles, and it's up to PaRappa to deliver a Kirk Summation in the form of a rap battle.
- Sequel Difficulty Drop: PaRappa 2 is significantly easier than the first game by having the timing window for button presses be more forgiving, getting a Cool rank is easier to obtain, and dropping down to Bad or Awful will have the master repeat the last set of lyrics to give you a chance to redo your mistakes without running into a possible Unwinnable game. Rising back to the rank of Good from this state will put you back to where you were originally before the rank drop so that you don't have to redo parts of the lyrics yet again and possibly screw up the same parts.
- Ship Tease: Stage 8 of PaRappa 2 teases PaRappa/Lammy: PaRappa sings with Lammy, who's playing with him on stage, while Sunny just watches from the audience with her father.
- Shrink Ray: The unmodified De-Noodlizer in PaRappa 2 can shrink or enlarge characters (including PaRappa) when a certain character presses the button on its remote control, even with help from the Guru Ant, of course.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Cheap Cheap has a stereotypical British voice, but is still a pretty great rapper.
- Sunny Sunflower Disposition: Sunny Funny. Bright and cheerful, and also wanting adoration.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Instructor Moosesha in PaRappa 2 is one for her sister, Inspector Mooselini, from the first game, who is neither mentioned by name nor shown.
- The Television Talks Back: There was an entire level in PaRappa the Rapper like this. A subversion, as Cheap Cheap's literally right next to him. (The "television" is actually a frame she kept around herself, for some reason. This is revealed only if you're in "Cool" mode, and if you start doing badly note (This is lampshaded by PaRappa asking her how she got out of the TV.)
- In 2, the second level "Romantic Love" also does this to an extent. Specifically when reaching/losing Cool Mode and getting worse/failing the level. The former as Master Onion will say that now it's PaRappa's turn to lead, and then brings the whole TV set into PaRappa's living room as if he's the focus of the show now. The latter as Master Onion apparently knows when PaRappa is doing badly and calls him out when he fails the level.
- Token Human: The first game was originally going to feature one named Pony Pony.
- Transformation Ray: The Noodlizer, a Ray Gun that can turn anything into noodles, including burgers, guitar strings, and even noodles.
- Tutorial Failure: In PaRappa the Rapper 2 every level would have Boxy give the player a practice round by giving sample lyrics from the song they would be playing. While it is a good thing to have, the only problem is the practice/tutorial sections are played at the slowest speed possible while the majority of the songs themselves play much faster than that. You have to learn to adjust to the song's tempo and difficulty yourself.
- Updated Re-release: The first PaRappa the Rapper game got a rerelease on the PSP and a remaster on the PS4.
- Vinyl Shatters: In the second game's Bonus Round, PaRappa can break vinyl records with karate moves.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Several characters, particularly the hairdresser and burger chef in the second game, have strong accents that don't seem to come from any country in particular.
- Wolverine Publicity: The PSP rerelease of the first game contains remixes of the game's songs. The first stage has far and away the most remixes, with five.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: PaRappa 2 kicks off the adventure with PaRappa winning a lifetime supply of noodles and growing sick of eating them. He goes to a burger joint to eat something different and sees that their food have become noodles as well! With a bit of help from the ghost of the Beard Burger Master, PaRappa fixes the issue and is about to enjoy his ice cream, only for it to instantly turn into noodles afterwards.
- Acid Reflux Nightmare: Happens to PJ in the first book.
- Lethal Chef: Sunny Funny in the second book, nearly literally around the end. When Sunny forgets to buy the ingredients she needs, she decides to improvise. Needless to say, none of Sunny's guests would touch it. (Except for PJ) As for the dessert, well... Flaming Dynamite Strawberry Onion Cake, anyone?
- No Smoking: Averted. Both PaRappa's dad and Mr. Prince Fleaswallow are seen smoking on separate occasions.
- Those Two Guys: The squirrel and the rabbit in the second book.
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