(SCEA for PSP)
By Mike Delano
Back in the day, Parappa the Rappa, the original Playstation’s lovable rapping dog, had the cuteness market cornered. It was hard to resist the childlike drawing and animation, the happy tunes and characters like a Rasta frog and a karate-teaching onion. But times have changed, and with casual gaming ascendant, there’s no shortage of cuteness, from Nintendogs to Viva Pinata to all manner of Wii titles (Cooking Mama, Wii Sports, to infinity). Even on Parappa’s new home, the PSP, he’s out-cuted on arrival by last year’s irrepressible LocoRoco. And really, cute was pretty much all Parappa had going for him: The innovative but finicky button-prompt gameplay has been vastly improved upon by the countless titles Parappa has inspired over the years. Of course, only the finest of Parappa’s offspring (Elite Beat Agents, Guitar Hero) can compete with the godfather in terms of charm, and this bare-bones PSP port is a must-play for gamers unfamiliar with Master Onion and company. But charm alone can’t hide the fact that it’ll take a lot more than this nostalgia trip for Parappa to carve his own niche in today’s cute-overloaded gaming world.