While I agree with some of Dale's gripes, I had a slightly more positive reaction to Lammy. Many of my own initial complaints stemmed more from the start of the game, which seems to mirror PaRappa too closely. There's the same Jet-Baby movie opening, the same bully starting trouble, and the first level also starts off with Chop Chop Onion rapping lyrics that are not identical, but more than just familiar. I couldn't shake the feeling that perhaps the developers were trying to rehash more or less the same material. Luckily, by the second stage, things start to pick up with a funk jam involving Lammy assisting a fireman extinguish a burning building. The third stage progresses nicely with a classic rock-and-roll style song about trying to put a nursery of babies to sleep. But the game doesn't reach its most original and high point until the fourth stage where Lammy pilots a 747 with a whacked out war veteran banging to hard rocking, grunge-like tunes. Later numbers, including a vocal jazz one and a more standard pop-finale, are pretty good but don't stand out nearly as much as the hard-rocking one.

The gameplay seemed to follow a similar uphill battle. Like Dale already mentioned, performing well in Lammy seems especially difficult compared to PaRappa. Producing consistent results seems nearly impossible at times and the added distortion effects and guitar bends only seem to downplay scores. With consistent playing and practicing (like the manual advises), I did eventually produce better results. But after having to replay a few stages dozens upon dozens of times, I wasn't sure if I was enjoying the experience or merely growing frustrated. Both Lammy and PaRappa are relatively easy and short games to complete in the traditional conquer-the-computer sense, but at least PaRappa never wore me down with aggravation the way Lammy did.

Even with the above remarks, any game in this day and age that doesn't require blowing an opponent's head off for pure kicks deserves much credit. Lammy makes for a very cute and likable protagonist (though I still prefer Parappa's lovable mug) and there are nice evolutionary additions like two-player co-operative/competitive modes, performance replays, and even an uplifting playable reappearance by Parappa himself. Lammy does contain many catchy songs on par with the original and retains the same level of musical understanding largely instilled by its designer, Masaya Matsurra. So while some of the magic may be lost, there's still plenty of pixie dust to go around. Rating: 8.5 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 GameCritics.com 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 GameCritics.com 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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