As the PlayStation library becomes more and more cluttered with derivative software, I found it increasingly difficult to distinguish the good games from the bad ones. Lucky for Sony that there are still a few diamonds in the rough and a game like PaRappa The Rapper has no trouble separating itself from the pack. This game stands out in the best kinds of ways.

Visually, PaRappa is something to behold. The overall feel and art direction looks like something out of five year old's coloring book. Bucking all kind of trendy 3D flash-in-the-pants graphics, PaRappa is decisively two-dimensional in the most cartoon hilarious ways! The actual character designs of Parappa and his friends are all designed in a children's book style only previously seen in a game like Yoshi's Island for the SNES. To top it off, the story, progressed though wonderfully thoughtful full-motion video sequences, about Parappa (a dog) trying to win the love of Sunny Funny (a flower) by rapping is simply too funny and wacky to comprehend; a kind of must see it, to believe it mentality.

PaRappa's concept based on rap, plays something like a cross between Simon-Says and Tekken-style 10-hit combos in a music video. While this may sound simple, it no where near demonstrates the depth of the game. Players must match rap lyrics by pressing buttons with split second accuracy and even daring players further by free-styling which is creatively remixing the lyrics to form new beats. The game covers a wide variety of raps and rather than promoting a stereotype, PaRappa excels in its most important characteristic, its music with creative old school lyrics with lots of fun and plenty of laughs. Each rap ends up close to being a sort of mini-tribute to each style. In fact, the music is so good and catchy, I found myself rapping the lyrics of PaRappa at the most inappropriate times outside of playing the game.

Overall, the game is short and is easy to beat, but this is another example of how games shouldn't be judged by the length of the game, but the quality of the experience. The magic of PaRappa will not be easily cloned and we'll probably only get one like it in our lifetime. Sure to transcend cultural differences, PaRappa is special; plain and simple. Rating: 9 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui
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