Remember PaRappa the Rapper? Of course you do. Kick! Punch! Chop! Block! "Don't get cocky, it's gonna get rocky." Classic. Developer NanaOn-Sha's sublime rhythm-action title for the original PlayStation, released in late 1996 (and ten years later on the PSP handheld), was a cult phenomenon of the mid-'90s, spawning a spin-off game, UmJammer Lammy, and its own TV show, not to mention a sequel proper for the PS2. If you had a PlayStation back when, you knew all about the paper-thin dog Papappa and his silky mic skills, his attempts to woo Sunny Funny, a flower, and a colourful cast of bizarre supporting characters including karate instructor Chop Chop Master Onion and market owner Prince Fleaswallow.
Despite the great acclaim for the games, and continuing interest from fans in a third title proper, all's been quiet on the PaRappa franchise front since the 2001 sequel – well, discounting Parappa's appearance in 2012's PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a sort of Smash Bros.-alike for the PS3 which did not go down well with PaRappa's artist, Rodney Greenblat. "I'm very happy that Parappa is making a bit of a comeback, but not so happy about him being in a weapon-filled battle game," he said in a 2012 interview.
In the same conversation, though, Greenblat says: "I have to do what I can to get Parappa back in the game scene. My hope is that Sony realises the golden true potential of Parappa and asks me to design some new games. I've learned a lot, and I think Parappa could be great again." Well, Rodney, VICE is here to help.
We invited London-based rapper DELS, aka Kieren Gallear, into our London office for an afternoon of story planning and rhyme writing. And laughing. Plenty of laughing. So here's our sketch for what a new PaRappa the Rapper could be like. Sony, NanaOn-Sha, if you want to take it from here, that'd be bloody marvellous.
The Story, Then
It's 2016. Parappa's appetites-saving antics of 2001, where he prevented the entire world from having to eat nothing but noodles, forever, catapulted him to international stardom. Hit records followed. Massive tours. But nothing lasts forever. He's settled down with Sunny, a couple of kids are running rings around him, and the royalty cheques are getting smaller and smaller. Time for a comeback. (Song one.)
So off Parappa goes to a potential manager, a shameless Simon Cowell-like figure, but a cactus or something, Because PaRappa. He performs for the prickly industry professional, but leaves him unmoved – Parappa needs to up his game if he's going to believe, again. (Song two.)
Crestfallen, Parappa visits his dad, the known inventor Papa Parappa, whose shrink ray plays a key part in the story of PaRappa 2. Out in the yard, in a dilapidated old shed, Papa shows his son a strange and shiny gadget. He doesn't let on exactly what it is, at first, telling Parappa that he found it around the back of Beard Burger. The pair of them fix up the machine before it powers up and, pow, teleports Parappa back in time. (Song three.)
Now back in 1996, the older Parappa reconnects with Chop Chop Master Onion, who just moments ago finished his session with the younger MC-to-be – yes, there's a Back to the Future vibe going on, here – and one montage-laden rap-off later, all the old skills are purring again. (Song four.)
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On his way back to the time machine, old Parappa finds himself desperate for a piss. It happens – all that adrenaline, so much sick flow. He cuts the queue for a toilet, bumping a strange lizard thing, an angry moose and a distressed chicken back in the line. They're pretty cheesed at the rudeness, but when you've got to go, right? The unforeseen knock-on effect of this, though, that is young Parappa takes that little bit longer to rhyme his way to sweet relief, and has an accident. Right in front of Sunny Funny, who feels it's an embarrassment too far, and off she goes with Parappa's rival for her affections, Joe Chin. You see where this is going, right? Bad present, when Parappa's back in the here and now. But Papa Parappa's strangely prepared for such a situation, and the pair go back to the scene of the burst-bladder crime, where the old dog magically puts things right Because This Is A Video Game and shut up we didn't really get to fully thinking this part through. (Song five.)
With the present corrected, Parappa wows the Cowelly cactus and smashes a world tour, making those big bucks and putting himself firmly back amongst pop's elite. The stages are literally on fire – so much so that Chief Puddle needs to be on hand at all times to put them out when the rapping's "cool". Only, what's this at the song's climax? Some sort of… transporter beam? (Song six.)
Parappa's zapped onto the deck of a fantastically funky spaceship, the flagship of an alien fleet from a planet where his rhymes have formed the very foundation of their civilisation – and yes, here's where we twist from ripping off Back to the Future to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Some Outkast-meets-George-Clinton beats bubble up from some magically futuristic speakers, and the penny drops as one hell of an alien jam breaks out: this distant race knew all about the pissy problem that would befall Parappa, so sent the time machine to Papa to ensure that he could sort out the situation and guarantee their own survival, out amongst the stars. Cue: the climax, and everyone's happy again. (Song seven.)
Okay, But What About the Songs?
You're right, the story in a PaRappa game's not important, really, is it? It's all about the songs. So, we came up with some. As best we could in three-and-a-bit hours, anyway. As much as it'd have been sweet to have some original DELS beats to work with, we instead went with some already-out-there instrumentals, to serve as guiding arrangements for our lyrics. Obviously, in a PaRappa game proper, these would be fresh creations; but for the sake of this piece, the linked-to tracks serve as convenient backgrounds for the words below.
We worked on two of the seven scenarios listed above: Parappa and Papa reconnecting the loose parts of the time machine, and then the time-travelling fun and games of the ruined past becoming the twisted present which is then all fixed again. With me? Good, good. Then run your eyes over the words below, and let your imagination fly.
"Old Father Time In Rhyme"
(Play this instrumental of "Peter Piper")
Yo, son, I know you're feeling down
Here's a little gadget that I've found
A bright future awaits you – so don't despair
But first, pass that wrench, this machine needs repair
Pass me that wrench
Now pass me that bolt
I'll pass you that wrench
And I'll pass you that bolt
There's a little something I need to mention
About this gleaming, futuristic invention
It looks like it was dropped out of space
This crazy contraption looks out of place
I've never seen anything like this before
But I'm really intrigued by this sliding door
I wonder what will happen if I press that there
If I pull that lever, and sit on this chair
(As the machine powers up, the music switches – now play this instrumental of "Wicked")
Dad, what happens if I push this button?
Go on, son, and push that button!
But dad, what happens if I pull this lever?
Go on son, go and pull that lever!
I've just set the timer to '96
Back when I had beef with Joe Chin
But I'm not going back to get drawn in
I've got to believe, I'm going back to win
I gotta believe!
Related, on Noisey: Watch DELS perform in a tunnel shaft with a string quartet
"The Timeline's Gone Wrong Song"
(You want to begin with this instrumental of "Affirmative Action")
Master Onion, where you at?
I need to find your dojo, where we used to rap
I need your guidance, your inspiration
I need to believe I can climb this wall that I'm facing
Come and find your mojo, inside of my dojo
Kicking, punching, moving in slow-mo
I've got back my mojo, inside your dojo
Kicking, punching, back to full flow
I'm the microphone champion
But I'm not Skepta
I'm PaRappa the Rapper
Am I ready? You betcha!
I got my flow back, now I need to go back (x 2)
But before I do, I need the loo
Can't keep my flow when I've got to go
(The music changes as we travel back to the present – listen to this "Nasty" instrumental for an idea)
I've just arrived back home but my key won't work
Why is Joe Chin wearing my best shirt?
Hold up, why's Joe with Sunny?
Something's not right, got a sick feeling in my tummy
Don't worry son, we'll sort this mess
Because I'm in possession of this alien tech
I'm sorry, I mean, I got it from Guru Ant
He collects time machines, and leisurewear pants
My toilet break left quite the stink
I need to be calm, believe, and think
The past's Parappa's in quite the mess
But listen to me, and we'll pass this test
(We return to 1996, and the music changes once more to a beat much like this "Toss It Up" instrumental)
Stop stressing Parappa, and I will fix this
Focus on perfecting your flows, rhymes and lyrics
I believe in you, no doubt you'll make amends
Keep your head up, you'll be with Sunny again
I believe! I'm gonna tour the world
Reconnect with my fans and my best girl
We believe you're gonna be back on stage
Make things right with your new ways
I believe! I'm gonna make amends
Get Sunny back as my best friend
We believe you're back on track
Changing the future with your new raps
Back to the present and everything's all good
Everything's back together, as it should
Now I've got to get back in business, prove my worth
Tour these rhymes all across the Earth
I gotta believe!
Don't know about you, but I think we've got the beginnings of something here. Sony, we're just a call away. Waiting. Patiently. I mean, we've been waiting a while already, right? So what's another 15 years?
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