Like Brad, I was extremely disappointed with PaRappa 2. I was able to forgive the first PaRappa game for having only six songs; not only because it was breaking new ground in the genre, but more importantly because each one of those songs was a hit. I am less forgiving, however, of a sequel that still has a small number of songs and instead of improving upon its predecessor, actually gives the impression of having regressed.
I agree with Brads analysis of PaRappa 2s songs, especially the part about the "gradeschool" lyrics. The lyrics in PaRappa and Um Jammer Lammy were weird almost to the point of gibberish, but in a calculated and at times witty way that was hilariously entertaining. Take these lines from the first game: "I am a chicken/from the kitchen/and I aint kiddin/Although, nothing is written," then compare them to this pedantic verse from the second one: "Cook those burgers, turn the patty over/Cut the lettuce, dont forget the cheese/Toast the buns, dont forget the fries/Bring on the ketchup, sweep the floors." Even though these are just two excerpts, they illustrate a general trend that I noticed with the lyrics having gone from being delightfully eccentric and cleverly rhymed verses to dull and one-dimensional couplets that often made no effort to rhyme at all (or did so sloppily, as in rhyming "round" with "around.")
I felt that another of PaRappa 2s problems was that it tried a little too hard to be quirky, and as a result just ended up seeming asinine. This is most evident in the cutscenes that appear between stages, which I really had to struggle to sit through since I felt that they dragged on for far too long in a game thats supposed to be about making music. To me, there is a serious problem when a player spends more time watching a game than actually playing it, which was the case with PaRappa 2. Unfortunately, without the cutscenes it would be quite possible to breeze through the entire game in twenty minutes, since the songs are so easy that most of them can be cleared on the first try.
The arbitrary and unpredictable judging that Brad mentioned irked me as well. As a musician I feel that I have a pretty good sense of aesthetics, and I was disappointed to find that the computer frequently disagreed with me. Since following the song patterns note-for-note is so easy, having a strong improvisational element could have been the one thing that changed my opinion of PaRappa 2. Instead, any possible fun factor was ruined by the frustrating scoring system. The saddest thing of all was that all of the neat "tricks" that hip-hop rappers use, such as syncopated beats, rapid patter delivery and repetition of syllables are impossible to do consistently in this game because of the finicky computer.
It is true that PaRappa "broke the market open," but that doesnt mean that we should be more tolerant of a weak follow-up effort. In a trend unbefitting a sequel, PaRappa 2 has less of everything that its predecessors possessed: charm, replay value, challenge and worthwhile extras to unlock. As Brad said, it had the feeling of an append but came advertised as a full game, and when judged as such it simply doesnt measure up.