PaRappa The Rapper Remastered Review

A lot of people will never understand PaRappa The Rapper. Beneath the uplifting vibe and uniquely charming 2D visuals is a demanding, unconventional, and somewhat broken milestone for the rhythm action genre. Still, after twenty years, the two dimensional beanie-wearing pup is still one of PlayStation’s most fondly remembered mascots, despite the series’ admittedly niche appeal.

Even if rhythm games are your jam, PaRappa doesn’t exactly line up with the modern standards set by Guitar Hero, Amplitude, and Thumper. Set across six stages, players need to match the button prompts displayed on-screen to the beat of the track. Sounds easy, sure, but in practice it can be perplexing, often leading to bouts of frustration. Sometimes, when a button press lines up perfectly in your head, the game will register it as a fail. The real problem is never knowing what went wrong or, more importantly, how to avoid those pitfalls in future playthroughs. At times, PaRappa The Rapper can be a game with no rhyme or reason and, some twenty years later, nothing has changed.


When I first played the original game on PlayStation, I assumed that either the game was broken or that I just sucked big time. I still remember getting to the fourth stage only to hit a brick wall. For the best part of a weekend, eight-year-old me tried over and over to clear Cheap Cheap’s kitchen but failed every time. I swapped televisions, controllers, and memory cards, thinking that a change in configuration would somehow make a difference. How wrong I was. Turns out I just didn’t get PaRappa.

Fast forward almost two decades and I found myself in the exact same scenario, in all its remastered 4K glory. I’d managed to complete the first three levels without much difficulty before strapping on my apron for the impending kitchen nightmare. After all those years, I was still stumbling over the same bars. This one innocent rap about baking a cake had destroyed me as a child and here I was again, ready to throw in the towel.

Where it’s easy to dismiss failure as a kid, the thought of PaRappa getting the best of me in 2017 – as a seasoned, borderline obsessive gamer – haunted me. I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about stage four. So, after an early start, I pulled up a chair and went at it again. This time, instead of simply watching the prompts on-screen, I began to think more about the flow of the track and how I’d rap along if the mic were in my own hand.

It took a while for this change of mindset to gel, but the results were there. My timing suddenly improved, my score rocketed, and I even found myself freestyling, tapping buttons that weren’t even showing on the guide bar. I had become enlightened, discovering a newfound level of appreciation for PaRappa. Playing the remaster evolved from a simple trip down memory lane to confronting one of my biggest gaming challenges. Several hours later, with platinum trophy in-hand, I can safely say it’s one of my favourite releases of the year and one that has truly lifted my spirits.

It won’t have that same effect on everyone, however, especially on many newcomers looking to experience this PlayStation classic for the first time. To get the most out of PaRappa the Rapper, you need to achieve that same sense of enlightenment and that won’t come easily. It’s almost like opening a third eye. A lot of gamers nowadays just won’t have the patience if the solution isn’t spoon-fed to them by a wiki or a walkthrough.

With only six levels – each one taking no longer than several minutes – PaRappa The Rapper is also relatively short compared to most modern video games. However, like buying an album, you’re expected to go over the same tracks again and again. It’s a strange concept we’re not often used to seeing these days, but I can easily see myself dipping in and out of song, long after my platinum playthrough.

What’s Good:

  • Plays exactly like the original
  • Looks fabulous in 4K
  • Six ridiculously funky raps
  • Unforgettable style and atmosphere

What’s Bad:

  • Plays exactly like the original
  • Will punish and confuse newcomers

PaRappa the Rapper Remastered is a game we’d recommend to every die-hard PlayStation fan, but being a straight-up remaster is a double-edged sword. On one hand it preserves everything about the original game PaRappa fans love, albeit in a much higher resolution, but on the other, it shuns new features or a revised approach to its rhythmic gameplay. There’s a lot of history there as well as some great tracks and one of gaming’s most iconic art styles. PaRappa can be as punishing as it is unconventional but, with an open mind, it may also be one of the best games you’ve experience on PlayStation 4.

Score: 8/10

Version tested: PlayStation 4 Pro

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.


  1. ‘tapping buttons that weren’t even showing on the guide bar’


    Your freestyling sounds great.

    • It does sound cack but bags a load of points if done to the beat.

      In fact, the sounds PaRappa makes never seems to flow with the track. Jarring at first but quickly overlooked.

      • No it doesn’t. If you’re pressing ‘oops’ buttons it only counts negatively.

  2. I downloaded and played the demo, just one song. I’d never played the original. There’s no possible way to know the first button on each line because you’re expected to have pressed it almost the instant it appears on the screen. I completed it, but can see how it would be insanely hard later in the game.
    I want to like it, but the gameplay isn’t for me, despite the fact I think I’d enjoy the rest of the experience.

    • Er… It shows you the whole line you need to do before it’s your turn to do it. The instructor does their line, then you copy.

  3. I appreciate it’s supposed to be tongue in cheek, but the first commercial might be one of the worst adverts I’ve ever seen.

  4. Half the reviews seem to be suggesting the game is broken with horrible lag, making stage 4 in particular unnecessarily hard.

    You’re suggesting otherwise?

    So I just gave the demo a go. And yep, it’s horribly broken. Ok, so the icons don’t match the music. But that’s not the issue. In any of these sorts of games, you shouldn’t be pressing buttons in time with the icons. It should be in time with the music.

    But it doesn’t work. There’s a huge lag between pressing the button (in time with the beat) and it actually registering. You can probably work around that, but that makes for terrible gameplay. Usually there’s an option to sort that out and adjust for all the lag your TV and audio equipment introduce. But that appears to be missing here.

    So based on the demo, it’s broken. Others may find it’s more or less broken, or feel that trying to work around a fundamental gameplay mechanic (that you press buttons in time with the music) which is broken is worth the effort.

    It looks nice in it’s bright colourful HD version though.

    • Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind!
      If you wanna test me, I’m sure you’ll find
      That all the things I teach ya is sure to beat ya
      But nevertheless you’ll get a lesson from teacher, now kick!

    • ‘There’s a huge lag’ – you must have a really bad TV. There should definitely be lag settings, but it shouldn’t be that bad.

      • Nothing wrong with the TV. Using the optical output from the PS4 too, which is always the best plan. Usually the lag in these sorts of games is fine, maybe just needing a slight adjustment.

        But in this case, there’s no option for that.

        Maybe my timing is just better and being more accurate actually hurts things in this case. And the better your timing is generally, the harder it is to adjust to a broken timing. My brain just won’t do it.

        So based on the demo, it’s missing an absolutely necessary setting that may or may not affect you depending on some combination of your TV/audio equipment/sense of timing. Shame, because if it was fixed, I’d have bought it already.

      • ‘I’m too good for this game’ lol no

  5. So if you pop onto my YouTube channel Higher Plain Games and take a look at my party stream, you will see the lag in full effect. Its there in stage 4 and the practice beats. If you press all the buttons in thise songs slightly late, youll pass. Stage 5 runs slightly before the buttons but is less noticeable. I love the game and the whole series but aside from the visual upgrade, I am slightly disappointed they didnt fix this from before.

    • Also, appreciate I am plugging my own stuff there so feel free to delete if not in keeping with stuff – but I thought it was relevant.

Comments are now closed for this post.