PaRappa the Rapper 2

The world's food is turning into noodles, and it�s up to the most unlikely of heroes to rise again to meet the challenge. PaRappa!

Note: This review is based on the boxed Japanese game. According to SCEA, the only difference in the U.S. version will be language translation.

With its infectious tunes and charming characters, PaRappa the Rapper for the PlayStation is one of the few original and endearing games. The long-awaited sequel finds the lovable puppy on the cutting-edge PS2 with yet another dilemma. His main squeeze, Sunny Funny, keeps cooking up noodle dishes, which has PaRappa clamoring for more variety. He doesn�t want to hurt Sunny�s feelings by not eating her dishes and leaves to grab a good old fashioned burger. PaRappa unwittingly stumbles upon the secret plot of noodle domination, as there is no other food choice on the planet but�noodles!

To unravel the mystery and calm his stomach, the intrepid canine once again uses the gift of gab to spit rhymes over funky tracks. The controls work in exactly the same way as before, with button presses timed in accordance with onscreen instructions and the beat of the music. The game is much more forgiving this time out and encourages freestyling button taps to gain higher rankings. Freestyling is basically any extra button presses that are not specifically required to pass a level. A new practice option before each challenge gets everyone on equal footing, and the two-player mode is easily the best addition to the series.

Everyone from best pal DJ PJ Berri to Um Jammer Lammy�s band Milk Can make appearances and look great. The 2D-paper look has been retained�although it has been upgraded with better animation and shading effects. The only minor gripe is that it�s too hard to watch all the wacky action while paying attention to the button instructions. The glue of the game has always been the music, and while not quite on par with the original, PaRappa 2 comes through with some satisfying melodies. The rhymes the teachers and enemies rap can change from game to game, adding an extra level of variety and difficulty.

PaRappa 2 doesn�t break any new ground or even one-up its previous outing, but there should be a spot in your library and your heart for the always delightful hip-hop hound and his cast of offbeat friends.