The second day of ECTS 2001 was capped off by a press event and party thrown by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe to show off new versions of its upcoming European lineup. Parappa the Rapper 2, which hit Japanese shelves last week, is part of this lineup, and it was playable in its full form at the event.
Parappa's town is being overrun by the evil Noodle Group, a fanatical army bent on turning the world's hamburger supply into noodles. Seeing this as a bad thing, the townspeople in Parappa's neck of the woods fight back against the group. Parappa will go through everything from flipping hamburgers to undergoing military training to learning how to cut hair in this eight-level adventure. One of the cooler stages we saw took place inside an old Virtual Boy-like wearable game machine, which displays Parappa and most of the game's teachers as small, almost Atari 2600-like sprites trapped in a game of Pong. While the loud surroundings made the game a little hard to hear, what we could hear sounded pretty good.
One of the game's few new additions is a small minigame that occasionally takes place between levels. Parappa stands in the middle of four of Chop Chop Master Onion's students, who repeatedly take records out of boxes. When they pull a record up, you must hit the corresponding button to strike in that direction. Strike when no record is present and you'll knock the student away from the record box, keeping him from pulling up records as he scurries back toward the box.
One thing that is likely to depress hard-core fans of the series is the game's difficulty level. Intermediate rhythm game players should be able to coast through Parappa 2's levels in 30 minutes without losing once. Of course, if you get into freestyling--which the game encourages at every turn--it will likely take a bit longer to complete.
Parappa 2 is currently scheduled to hit Europe in March. No North American release has been announced at this time.