By Maria "Jigglypuff" Rider
"Leave it to LAMMY!"
From the funky mind of Rodney A. Greenblat and Interlink, Um Jammer Lammy rushes into the scene for an amusing yet weird look into the 3D world of 2D characters from which Parappa the Rapper debuted in. Um Jammer Lammy, the sequel to Parappa the Rapper, tells the story of an all-girls band, Milkcan, as they prepare for their first gig. The heroine of the game is Lammy, a shy lamb girl who plays a mean guitar and only is confident when she is holding one.
Much like Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy uses the "Simon says" gameplay as its main focus. The player must hit a series of buttons in order and in rhythm to the music in order to score and move onto the next stage. Only difference this time is that Um Jammer Lammy plays the guitar while Parappa rapped his way to stardom. The game's goal is simple, get Lammy to the concert hall to play at Milkcan's first live gig. Sound easy, right? NOT!
There are seven stages in Um Jammer Lammy and each of them contains a "teacher" to which Lammy must mimic by playing her guitar. The music ranges from a "Chef from South Park" Rhythm and Blues theme to a headbanging Heavy Metal theme. The player must keep to the rhythm and hit the buttons in a certain sequence or otherwise face a repeat of the level. There are four different ratings, Cool, Good, Bad, and Awful, which are dependent of the player's ability to stick to the beat and hit the right buttons. The difference with Um Jammer Lammy is that you can reach the "Cool" rating the first time you play a level, which gives this game better enjoyability. With Parappa the Rapper, the player had to mash the buttons to obtain a "Cool" Rating and Um Jammer Lammy penalizes for it.
Um Jammer Lammy differs from its predecessor with a lot of new added gadgets. After the player completes each stage the teacher will give him an "effector". The effector basically changes the sound of the guitar as it is being played when it is activated. There are six effectors, the Flanger, Harmonizer, Wah Wah, Distortion, and Reverb. The Flanger adds a metallic twang sound and the Harmonizer can change the sound by using the L2 button or the left stick on the Analog Controller. The Wah Wah does just what it is named, a "wah wah" sound and Distortion adds a more sharp distinct sound. Finally, Reverb adds a beautiful echoey sound to Lammy's guitar. One of the neat options of this game is that if the analog controller is used it can be set to vibrate when it is the player's turn to jam on the guitar.
The author did much better in Um Jammer Lammy than she did in Parappa the Rapper because of the many technical improvements such as making the button hits less precise and having the option to play a different arrangement than the one shown. Making the button hitting less precise gives the player a chance to actually make it through levels. The option to play a different arrangement is great because you can still get a good score or better without necessarily following the one that is shown. This option is only works if you stick to the prescribed beat and don't hit too many buttons.
The repeated gameplay of Parappa was minimal at best as once you finished the levels in the game that was it. Um Jammer Lammy kicks Parappa to the curb with even more gameplay as once the player completes a level they can team up with Rammy, Lammy's rival. Rammy, a black and white version of Lammy, has a different guitar-playing style, but definitely rocks as well as Lammy if given the chance. Another player or the computer can control Rammy. Using the computer to your advantage can help you get through tough levels where Lammy cannot do it solo. If that wasn't enough, once the player finishes up all seven levels of the game, he can battle head-to-head with either Rammy or Parappa himself! Parappa also has his own game with different arrangements to the Lammy Level songs, which is quite cool! It's like two games in one. Parappa the Rapper 2 and Um Jammer Lammy. The player can team up with Parappa or battle against him, rapping against guitar, who will win?
This is definitely an enjoyable game and the dubbing is well done. The graphics are up to par of the first game and are a lot more colorful and sharp. The animation is about as good as you can get with 2D characters in a 3D world. If you loved rapping with Parappa, you'll love this game just as much! It may take a bit of determination, but it definitely jams!