Bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good.
I'm Run D.M.C, and it's like that. I'm L.L. when he couldn't live without his radio. I may not be a Fat Boy, but I'm a phat human beat box. Pop-locking notwithstanding, I'm both old-school and an old fool, and the undisputed king of the beat. A huh-huh-huh!
Compared to the wave of dance games that have succeeded it, the original PaRappa is sort of old-school, too. I guess Sony figured it was time to pull a P. Diddy and yank a smash from the past, inject it with a little new flavor and roll around in the back of a limo sipping Crystal while endorsing the checks off the back of a ho's booty.
But while sampling has its place, PaRappa the Rapper 2 doesn't quite capture the hipness of its hip-hop history.
Part of what made the first PaRappa such a cool, kitschy game was its totally ridiculous, hysterically weird story. Traveling the land looking for 'something to believe in' while learning how to rap from a menagerie of oddball characters painted a great, funky picture. Plus, you had a rap-off while waiting to use the can. How good is that?
This time around, though, seems like an attempt to be as strange as the original, but only manages to be kinda dumb. Apparently all the food in town has turned into noodles, and it's up to PaRappa to save the day. Along the way, you'll meet a funky ant that sounds like Barry White, daydream about supposed girlfriend Sunny Funny, and stare blankly as every food item turns into a gross patch of bright yellow noodles. Our hero sets forth to straighten out this perplexing pasta puzzle, the solution of which obviously involves...rapping.
Or rather, tapping. The gameplay in PaRappa 2 is identical to the gameplay in the original. You rap against a collection of wacky masters and have to repeat their rhymes by pressing the buttons in the right order and at the right time. It's a glorified version of Simon, though admittedly a helluva lot more fun.
It's also much easier. PaRappa 2 is very simple for anyone decent at rhythm games and will likely be beaten in about an hour. The really tricky bit about PaRappa is the leniency of the engine. Sometimes you'll improv a little and it will sound great to your ears, but you'll get scored badly. Likewise, sometimes you'll screw up and get rewarded. It wasn't a big deal in the original since the whole idea was so new, but you can't help but notice that they haven't fixed it much.
Or really done anything much at all, for that matter. PaRappa 2 is in almost every way identical to its forbear. You still have to rap 'good', else the music will change as you gradually rap 'bad'. The more you improv, the better your chances of moving into 'cool' territory. There are no new 'moves' or control changes. This makes it very easy to just hop right on and play, and they've even included a Training mode for those new to the funk. Fans of the original will likely be genuinely pleased with the fact that things are so familiar.
But how about doing something with the analog sticks, like letting PaRappa scratch or mix beats at some point? A little thought in the gameplay department would have done wonders. Instead, it's just more of the same.
It even looks the same, which is a bummer since we're talking about the PS2 this time around. The flat, pancake characters are back, and though they are notably smoother than the PSX version, there's only so much you can do with this kind of graphical style. Still, the textures are blah and there are some noticeable anti-aliasing problems. White lines, go away!
One of the problems with the original was its brief gameplay time. You'd beat the game, then do it again and again and again. The semi-sequel Um Jammer Lammy added a new multiplayer mode to the mix, and now PaRappa 2 expands the series even more by adding Challenge modes as well as a slightly longer story (8 stages as opposed to 6).
The challenge modes are a welcome addition, letting you and a friend or the computer square off in a rapfest using one line. The trickier you get with that one line, the more points you score. It's a nice try, but the game just isn't all that much fun multiplayer since one of you is likely to be much, much better than the other one.
But where PaRappa 2 really drops the mic is in its music. Who can forget the funny, bizarre beats in the first game? Kick, Chop, It's all in the mind! Well, it's also all in the past, as this game features bland, unmemorable beats and lyrics. You don't get anything close to the kick ass reggae dub of the flea market scene in the original or Chop Chop Master Onion's awesome intro (though the master does return...as a romance therapist...ha...ha?) I beat the game twice, yet I can't remember one song as I sit here and write this review. This is the kind of game that lives and dies by its catchy tunes, and in this case it's gasping for air.
So what you're left with is a goofy, marginal game that's still too short. PaRappa 2 is like a rapper sampling his own songs. I suppose if you liked the first one you'll get a kick out of this, but it's not worth the full price benjamins, uh, yo.