Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy Bring on the Jams in Retronauts Episode 17

Retronauts 17 cover

Hey folks — Bob here, with an episode I’ve wanted to make since I started working on Retronauts back in 2011. It might be hard to believe, but the original Parappa the Rapper turns — dear god — 18 years old in 2014, so more than enough time has passed to make it just as rusty and crusty as our usual subject matter. But there’s much more to Parappa than just a single game, as you’ll see from this slightly oversized installment. Mostly, I’m using episode 17 as an opportunity to preach the virtues of Um Jammer Lammy, the unloved Parappa sequel which actually suffered from its lack of a cynical marketing campaign. Joining us for this one is Gamasutra’s Christian Nutt, a Retronauts veteran who’s just as fanatical about Parappa and Lammy as I am — so apologies if we tend to dominate the conversation. That said, please enjoy! And yes, we probably should have mentioned Gitaroo-Man at some point.

Libsyn (1:43:57 | MP3 | 95.2 MB) | SoundCloud

This episode’s description:

“In those oh-so optimistic ’90s, Parappa the Rapper taught an entire generation  there’s no shame in playing a game about a paper-thin puppy who raps about pooping. But when the end of the decade saw a sequel about a guitar-playing lamb, our love affair with musically adept cartoon animals was over. Join Bob Mackey, Ray Barnholt, Jeremy Parish, and Gamasutra’s Christian Nutt as the Retronauts discuss the Parappa the Rapper series and get cocky, even in the face of potential rockiness.”

This episode’s musical breakdown:

  • 9:29 – “Cubic Lovers” (PSY*S)
  • 20:27 – Parappa the Rapper “Instructor Mooselini’s RAP”
  • 50:34 – Um Jammer Lammy “Baby Baby!!”
  • 1:02:01 – Um Jammer Lammy “Fright Flight!!” (Lammy/Parappa version)
  • 1:07:20 – Parappa the Rapper 2 “Toasty Buns”
  • 1:22:48 – Um Jammer Lammy “Casino in my Hair”
  • 1:26:25 – Vib Ribbon “Universal Dance” (Laugh and Beats)
  • 1:40:50 – Um Jammer Lammy “Keep Your Head Up!”

Relevant Links:

VGMpire Episode 61 – UmRapper Palammy

Metamor Jupiter

Peter Gabriel’s Xplora1 (1993)


Dazzleoids: CD-ROM Superheroes on a Binge Against Boredom

Rodney’s Funscreen

Can – Turtles Have Short Legs (the inspiration for Instructor Mooselini’s RAP)

Parappa the Rapper anime intro

Jung Rhythm

Gamasutra’s 2009 Masaya Matsuura interview

Parappa the Rapper Jukebox

Um Jammer Lammy Jukebox

Your digestive system will be protected from the hazards of seafood cake if you review our show in the iTunes Music Store.


Filed under Retronauts

23 Responses to Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy Bring on the Jams in Retronauts Episode 17

  1. Alexander

    Another fantastic episode, Retronauts. The whole crew deserves praise, but Bob and Christian in particular. From pure rate of speech and unabashed enthusiasm, it was highly evident that they were really feeling the spirit.

  2. Great podcast I still remember playing the demo for this game and the music. I hope to hear more podcasts regarding classic PS1 games. How about a teaser for the next podcast, is it about a Ps1 game, a director or a console?

  3. ErichWK

    Duuuudes. Parappa 2 has the superior music. I listen to all those soundtracks, and I feel Parappa 2 has the most well thought out, dancey, funky, songs. So good! Hair Scare has the best bass line.

  4. Rhett Lauffenburger

    This is a great example of what I love about this new volume of Retronauts! Now that you guys are on your own, as it were, you aren’t held down as much to making these old games relevant. In the past, you’d have had to find a way to connect this episode to some current release…instead of just talking about a great game for the sake of it being a great game.

    Great episode, guys. Keep it up!

  5. Freezestar

    Parappa 2 was the first game in this series that I played. If I remember right, you get Cool in Parappa 2 by making getting one of the three colored bars to max (Depends on the stage) Each one has different requirements. Blue is getting the lyrics right. Yellow is being original. Purple is the quality and energy of your song.

  6. DaNasty Man

    HOLD UP!
    I have to call you guys on something, I like you guys but NO do not talk about Lords of Shadow like that. The original 5 (the Original, Simon’s Quest, Dracula’s Curse, Super 4 and Rondo) were all trying to take the material seriously, they had some jokey moments but were all very Dark games for what they were. While they did use the Universal look for a lot of the characters, they weren’t all that jokey. While the IGA/Metriodvaina games after SOTN did go in the that hokey direction, it was more in a response to “Yeah well everyone thought the voice acting in SotN was a joke …lets run with it.” If you go back to the original five games they went above and beyond the call especially with Grant who was based off the Desansti clan who was rivals to the Trepes clan in our history. The Lords Of Shadow Saga was trying to take it back to those old games and looked into the books and more recent films more than the 30’s Universal -70s Hammer films of the original games.

    Yes Lords takes it self seriously, because castlevania at one time did and wanted to be the game you though of when you think of Horror greats in the video game world. Much like people regard the universal and hammer monster films. It’s partially the reason why I don’t like the IGA games, they literally stopped using Dracula near the end, they literally stopped being about the Belmont clan. Hell most of the lead characters in IGA games Do not even use whips.

    I understand you liking the IGA styled metroidvanias, but to me it felt like we were getting further and further away from the core of Castlevania. A normal person stepping up to fight a great evil that controls a castle, that is the core of castlevania to me. Circle of the Moon and the PS2 games got back to that but weren’t that greatly balanced or well done. With the Lords series, it got back to that and even had the Belmont vs Dracula feud as a major focus part of Mirror of Fate and plot points of LoS2.

    But then again, I’m mostly okay with reboots with the exception of a few (Where they betray the core of what makes the characters into those characters), so I’m fine with things that most fans would trip off. Oh and yes I’m angry they killed DaNasty in the Lords universe (Mirror of Fate) and you can find a scroll on his body in the clock tower.

    Now on topic of the Parappa series:
    For a new game to the franchise: A create-a-character game where you can select your music genre with a soundtrack that flows like Jammer’s rock to rap transitions and a multitude of stages (a few “worlds” even) with a few that start with call back to Parappa 1 & 2 as well as Jammer tracks. Also with online modes to do versus for fun more than anything else. Literally pick up in universe X years later from the end of Parappa 2 and make it a PSN game that’s avaible on PS3, PSV & PS4. Sony can get this done by Q1 2016 if they started now.

    • Actually, you’re wrong — my dislike of Lords of Shadow isn’t based on the Igarashi games (except Mirror of Fate, which is a dreadful attempt at duplicating that style) but rather my recent revisiting of the NES trilogy. To me, Lords really missed the fundamental strengths and appeal of those games (the rhythms of the action, the cunning level designs, the willingness to sidestep gothic cliche with interesting design and color choices), no matter how much David Cox goes on about how much he supposedly loves Super Castlevania IV. The first Lords was OK in its own right, but a poor Castlevania game. The second Lords, by all accounts I trust, sounds like a poor game by any measure. But… to each their own.

      • DaNasty Man

        The colors can be debated especially in the Dark areas and working with limited technology. Also, If you notice the color palette in lords IS similar with very vibrant reds, greens and oranges as it goes into the mystical areas with cool blues in the darker area backgrounds to contrast the vibrant red of Gab’s figure. Combat is not the same rhythm nor a rhythm you like, but there’s a defined rhythm to it, that if you don’t get you will die or get hurt badly A LOT. I say as someone who’s currently replaying LoS1 while I save money to blow on the LoS2,Fez and Dark Souls 2.

        As for it the level design…I got to tell you replaying LoS1, if you’re not paying attenion you may skip something completely or not know you skipped them until the end that don’t require the upgrades from later levels. There’s also multiple path ways, the jumping is always perfectly, on the edge “DID I MAKE IT?!…YES!” kind of jumps when it comes to the platforming.

        Now to say Lords doesn’t do the side stepping on design cliches thing is kinda funny when you look at their designs for the Lycans, The vampires , the Frankenstein monster that appears, how the technology looked and how the human characters were designed. It’s a mix of a s***loads of styles that have gothic influences

        Also, I’m going off what you guys said in the podcast which I’m parapharsing as “Castlevania was about making fun of those things and playing as pretty boys (which only came in the IGA era). Now it’s all pretenious and full of itself.” If you disagreed, you didn’t make that clear and infact seemed to agree on the podcast.

        I’m not going to comment on Lords 2 because I haven’t played Lords 2, but if I’m hearing everything correct it’s taking Castlevania and namely Gabe’s jounery in a whole different direction that I like. Also since IGA was pussyfooting around 1999(the year Dracula was defeated in his timeline) I ‘d rather have someone else take over who’d actually show the “life” and “death” of dracula.

  7. Frankly, I’m shocked that when the topic of other story-based rhythm games with wild art styles came up late in the episode, nobody mentioned Gitaroo Man!

    Other than that, I really enjoyed the episode. Keep it up!

    • I realized we forgot Gitaroo-Man shortly after we recorded the episode! If it makes you feel any better, I’m a big fan of that game as well.

    • Sean C

      Well they can’t mention them all. I was hoping for a mention of Space Channel 5 as well but… I mean it has Space Michael Jackson! But great episode and follow up to having just listened to the VGMpire Parrapa music episode. They complement each other well.

  8. Sadly, I have no real memories of Parappa. I never had a playstation of my own, so I only know games from that system from playing at friend’s house. I remember commercials for Parappa, and thinking it looked really neat. I asked my friend if he’d played it, “it’s really dumb” he said. “all you do is push buttons in time with these stupid songs. It’s barely even a game.”

    Thus. I never got to play it, or even see it in action until Youtube became a thing.

  9. Jeff Peterson

    Another great episode, guys! I’m definitely looking forward to that rhythm game episode, when/if you get to it. Parappa started my love of the genre, beatmania and DDR cemented it. I also figured that you’d end up bringing up Gitaroo Man in the “rhythm genre” episode but it was nice to see that it was mentioned in the notes. Looking forward to more! Keep up the great work!

  10. Mark P

    I’ve never had any interest in these games and haven’t played any of them. However this show made me jump straight onto eBay and grab copies of both Parappa and Lammy.

    Great work chaps, especially Bob talking at 1.5x speed 🙂

  11. UnknownJones

    I concur with Bob and Christian’s enthusiasm for Lammy, the secret best Parappa game.

    Also, it’s only $8 brand new at Amazon:

  12. U podcastin' COOL!

    Oh yeah, this ep was a lot of fun. For all the video game podcasts out there, you guys sure hit the right balance between information, history, cultural context, and orgiastic gushing. Has it really already been almost a year since the kickstarter started?

    I also agree with Lammy being an exemplary video game female, but I think its mostly in her utter disacknowledgement of the whole dialogue around the issue. Oh, how I long for the days of yore, the creative wellspring of PS1 games, when it was about art and experimentation and not about hyperexpensive annual rereleases of mindless multiplayer dicktits deathmatch particlecount-pushing bullshit.

    In that sentiment this episode has made me believe I am among friends.

  13. Tyler C

    Another podcast that forces me to rush out and buy a game… A few weeks ago it was Harvest Moon: A New Beginning (I needed that Harvest Moon fix…), and now, I just ordered Lammy online. My wallet is crying, but I’m silencing it with cries of joy.

    The only game I’ve played in the series is Parappa 2, and while I was initially mortified that you guys hated the game, I understand, and agree with, most of your concerns. I still must unabashedly say I love most of the music – Toasty Buns is, of course, excellent, and who doesn’t love Hairdresser Octopus? Well, I guess besides you guys. But I appreciate your balanced look at the game, and I’m curious to see how I feel about it after playing Lammy.

    Now, if only I could find Parappa for less than $50…

  14. The entire episode was great, but learning the meaning of the square, circle, triangle, and x buttons was amazing!

    Also, the mashing of rock and rap for Unjammer Lammy sounds cool. I’ll definitely have to pick that up to check it out because the audio clip sounded sick. Great stuff.

  15. I have strong memories of the first Parappa coming out. It looked weird and interesting, but since I had devoted myself to Nintendo I never actually played it. When I eventually lost my console fanboyism and started revisiting PS1 classics I missed before, I never got a chance to Parappa.

    I also completely missed Lammy, but I sorta made up for that. When it got released as a PS1 classic I bought it, but barely played it. Listening to Bob and Christian’s passion about it makes me want to correct that oversight. In fact, the only reason I’m not trying it right now is I’m over a thousand miles away from my PSP. Alas, it will have to wait until I’m actually home again.

  16. Kyle

    Loved the episode and the enthusiasm.

    I think my first encounter with a rhythm “game” was actually the Topo boss battle from Brave Fencer Mushashi. I remember I got stuck on the battle for a while as I kept treating it like Simon; trying to input the commands as quickly as possible instead of along to the beat of the music.

    Come to think of it… Getting past may have necessitated my first trip to GameFaqs.