|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
Parappa was cool. Busting onto the Rap scene last year with his quirky gameplay and mystical Rap melodies, it was a unique experience in videogames and one that set up a whole new genre mixing fast action button presses with music.
Well now there is a new band in town called MilkCan that takes their inspiration from Parappa and adds their own distinctive musical flare. Fronted by lead guitarist Lammy, Milkcan is poised to be the next "big thing" in the music industry.
Following Lammy through the game and trying to get her to her gig on time, you really start to wonder if this chick is gonna hold it together or not. Lammy appears to be a real head case, constantly on the verge of anxiety attacks. Living on the edge seems to be Lammy's MO. Until I got to know her a little better, I'd swear she was always just one step from the Psyche Ward.
Lammy is always getting herself into the middle of things and needs your help to play her guitar to get her out of these little situations and to help the people around her. Think you got what it takes to be a "Guitar God" (or Goddess) or are you just another "has been" with a false claim at the throne. Get ready It's time to jam ..
Sound and Vision:
The music is really where it's at in Um Jammer Lammy. There is a great mixture of music styles from hip-hop and rap to an attempt at some heavy metal. Each teacher has their own distinctive musical style that you will need to adapt to, but hey your Lammy you can play anything right?
The most enjoyable tunes in my opinion where from the rap grooves of Chop Chop Master Onion and the head banging Captain Fussenpepper. Paul Chuck has a good metal tune in there as well. The rest of the teachers are so-so, but I was amused to find that Chief Puddle sounded strangely similar to Chef from South Park cool!
There is also some nicely fully orchestrated production numbers between some of the stages to help move things along. These pieces can be skipped but are worth a listen and a look-see to be sure.
The game as a whole features a wealth of musical styles that should have enough variety to appeal to just about anyone.
The graphics are some of the strangest that I have ever seen in a video game. The characters are all hand drawn flat 2D polygons. What I mean by flat is that when the characters turn to the sides they practically disappear, as they are all paper-thin. The illusion that this creates is truly awesome. From the front you get some nicely detailed and animated characters but as you watch arms and bodies move and rotate, they kind of blink in and out of existence. The overall effect is mesmerizing and may end up distracting you from following your teacher!
The world of Lammy is a colorful one with all of the characters and background sharing a full palette of colors and hues. Computer Generated graphics are interspersed throughout the stages and are seamlessly coupled with the in game graphics engine. These nicely generated cut-scenes helps to progress the story forward and give some insight to Lammy's somewhat twisted mind.
Like Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy is a music based action title that requires you to press the appropriate controller buttons to keep in time with the tunes that are playing in the game.
Unlike Parappa, Lammy seems to be much more flexible and can play just about any genre of music that is thrown at her. The game definitely features a distinctive and well blended variety of songs for you to play along to that Parappa just didn't have, but overall the tunes are not quite as catchy.
You start off the game at stage 1 with a return visit from Chop Chop Master Onion as your first teacher. He will belt out the beat for you to follow, which requires pressing the associated controller buttons (X, Square, Triangle, O, L1 & R1). There is a little meter off to the left that consists of four words: Awful, Bad, Good and Cool. As you play your riffs you are awarded points and the appropriate word is highlighted to indicate how well you are doing. If you stay down in Awful for more than a verse you're screwed and it's time to start the stage again. Hanging in Bad will let you complete the tunes but you will not progress further in the game. Finishing off with a Good allows you to move forward in the game and sometimes you get rewarded with an item called an Effecter. Effecters are items that will allow you to alter the sound of your notes and give your guitar playing that little edge to get into the Cool zone. Getting a Cool rating at any time during a tune will enable Lammy to play a solo shot and really show off your licks until the rating drops back down into the Good zone. At this point the teacher comes back in, insults you (saying "you're not so cool after all, guess I'm still the best") and starts throwing out notes again for you to follow along with.
The neat thing to listen for as you play is the music itself as you go from Good to Bad, the sound of the tune actually starts to get a fuzzy and harder to comprehend. Going from Bad to Awful further muddies the tune. Staying in the Good zone affords you a crystal clear tune and jumping into Cool gets the crowd cheering and your solo chops strumming.
As you progress through each stage you will get a chance to flex your various musical skills as each teacher has their own distinctive style and musical associations.
The game gives you an Easy and Normal mode to play with. In Easy mode you can basically strum you stuff and just try to keep in time with the tunes. This mode will let you experience what this game is all about and to meet the various teachers. Once you get to Stage 6 though you are through with the easy mode and ready to really start jammin' out.
There are a lot of different types of levels to go through in Um Jammer Lammy and you can only get through them from the Normal mode in the game.
In Normal mode you have to follow what the teacher is throwing out to you and play back the appropriate tunes by hitting the correct controller button. This mode is a lot harder than the Easy mode but the rewards are worth the extra effort. To help you along, if you are playing the game with a Dual Shock controller you will get a nice little buzz just before it's your turn to start playing. Getting through the first level in Normal Mode will allow you to unlock the 2-player Cooperative mode. From here you and a friend can jam through the rest of the game's levels and really kick some ass. After the second level you unlock a neat little 2-player Competitive mode where you and a buddy go at it in a head-to-head jam session.
You can also save some of your best performances and go into Replay mode and watch them over and over. Hey, some riffs are better than others and you get to decide which ones you want to save for posterity. The tunes are also all subtitled so you can learn the words and sing along if you really want to live the fantasy.
Overall Um Jammer Lammy is a fabulous follow-up to Parappa and manages to come off as fresh and delightful as the original. It's chock full of levels, stuff to unlock (a neat little Parappa remix is hidden in there somewhere!) and truly catchy tunes. The characters are just that characters, and they paint a pretty hip and vivid picture that will keep your eyes as busy as your ears and fingers. It's a pretty good overall sensory trip that you would be foolish not to try.
This is a single disk game for 1or 2 Players. It is compatable with the standard (digital) joypad and the dual shock (analog) joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
please note that this article should not be reproduced in any form without the permission of Absolute Playstation