Occasionally, part of being a cultural gamer isn’t about linking games to historical, psychological, cultural, or philosophical influences like I do in my more complex articles. Sometimes it’s just about taking a game out of context for a second and viewing it how others could possibly view it. When doing so, many games can give a completely different vibe than initially intended – for example, see all of Cracked.com’s game articles.
Parappa The Rapper became a cult classic for getting people into music games early on (and heck, it’s spinoff Umjammer Lammy, which was largely guitar based, did a lot of things Rock Band couldn’t do for a few more games, like harmonize). It’s also known for being a sort of cute and endearing game about a puppy in puppy love trying to outshine the arrogant, muscular and successful Joe Chin. But when taken into the context of adults observing the game without childhood goggles, PaRappa is no saint – he can do some pretty messed up things, especially in his first game.
Parappa breaks Prince Fleaswallow’s spirit and makes the hippie go materialistic.
This one is probably the one that shocked me most as an adult, partially because I find non-materialistic people like Prince Fleaswallow the frog to be increasingly rare, and partially because the concept of what was happening went way over my head. For the uninitiated, PaRappa gets a job at Prince Fleaswallow’s flea market to make enough money to fix his dad’s car, which he crashed daydreaming about his love Sunny Funny (while she was in the car, mind you). At first, the frog tells PaRappa, “The most important thing about working here is not money. It’s love.” But as sales increase, the lyrics of the song change from the beginning’s humble “All you ever need is to be nice and friendly.” Towards the end, Prince Fleaswallow starts to rap: “I have never sold everything, everything/Money money money is all you need.” And when sales are done, he tells PaRappa to let him know next time he’s interested in working a flea market, stating, “I will help you – or, you will help me.”
In the Cool Mode, Prince Fleaswallow specifically storms off saying “This isn’t what love is all about,” only to come back when PaRappa has made a ton of money and beg him for a ride in his new car.
Parappa cuts in line at the gas station.
In normal, Good Mode, PaRappa has a level where he has to reach a gas station toilet before he soils himself on a date. The way to get through the enormous line, of course, is to rap with the others and assert proficiency. But in Cool Mode (which, as the highest rating, is considered to be the greatest good of PaRappa’s world), he doesn’t actually interact with them. Rather, he enters Walter Mitty mode and raps with himself in a fantasy of chasing the runaway toilet on a train track.
So, in PaRappa’s ideal world – his coolest rap – he doesn’t actually follow the rules of the rap-off at all, but just runs to the front of the line while the others are rapping for it. And considering the others’ voices are faded background noise at that point, it’s doubtful he has any clue or concern that he’s doing so.
Parappa gives Sunny Funny a decapitated member of her own species.
If it isn’t obvious by the pictures, Sunny Funny is a flower. And what does PaRappa do on his date with Sunny? He shows up at her house, bringing her a flower in a romantic gesture.
I’m not even going to humor this one with expository info or backup paragraphs. This is what it is.
Parappa steals the thunder of another rapper after being pulled on stage.
When I was a kid, I assumed that the last level was PaRappa getting an invitation to perform with M.C. King Kong Mushi, but replaying it made me realize two things: 1., the invitation just says “Private Invitation,” saying nothing about getting to perform, and 2., Parappa gets no special treatment when there, and in fact gets easily lost in the crowd and separated from Sunny Funny. Sure, his name is on the stage, but the song they perform is obviously a hit that this other guy wrote, as noted by it being background music when at town hangouts (and let’s face it: considering the town is called PaRappa Town, the stage image doesn’t necessarily have to refer to the hero). But either way, it seems like the gesture to pull PaRappa on stage at all was just a big time artist throwing a bone to the little guy.
Then what does PaRappa do? He raps with the guy, stealing the show and the artist’s signature catch phrase at the end. And in Cool Mode, he actually steals the show entirely, forcing the other artist off the stage, and then gives a speech at the end about his accomplishments.
Mind you, I’m not saying that a rapper who is famous for saying “Say ho ho ho!” shouldn’t be upstaged at some point. But there’s a time and a place, dude.
The whole game is about a dog’s desire to pee on a flower.
Even though R Kelly wouldn’t make rappers urinating on little girls a stereotype for a few more years, the image is now in the minds of gamers here and there. And I swear, once you apply it to Parappa, you’ll never get the image out.
There’s the obvious connection that even a small child can put together – that dogs tend to urinate on plants, including flowers – but on the surface this could be written off as a coincidence at best. Still, let’s consider the facts. First of all, the only other dog besides immediate family is Joe Chin, his rival for Sunny Funny’s affection – and when seen in this light, Joe Chin isn’t a rival in love, but rather a rival in territory, which is obviously common among dogs.
Not only that, but one could argue Sunny is surprisingly interested; Stage 5′s “Full Tank” cut scene shows PaRappa desperately trying to fight his bowels, to which Sunny notes privately, “PaRappa looks so manly today. I’ve never seen him look this way before,” complete with blushing, smiling, hearts in the eyes, and asking for a ride home. And when PaRappa decides to not be R Kelly and actually use a gas station restroom in the above mentioned scene, Sunny is actually disappointed when he comes back. “He’s the same old PaRappa again. Oh well,” she says to herself, and then the romantic moment is gone.
The obvious counter argument is that, obviously, he never explicitly does the deed. But look at that above picture and tell me you’re 100% sure.