did the original concept for the game come from?
game concept came from Masaya Matsuura. He is a musician and pop
star in Japan, and a long time experimenter with computers and
music. He had been creating a Macintosh based music sequencer.
It was fun to use and toy like in many ways. This gave him the
idea to create a Rap music sequencing game for the Playstation,
which was just being introduced in Japan at the time.
did the name "PaRappa" come from?
name was also created by Matsuura. I am not sure how he thought
of it. It is kind of a play on words in Japanese. I've come to
understand it means "paper thin" and also "a little crazy", which
is a good description of the game.
did you get involved?
and his wife Kiri were both big fans of my work. I have been doing
a lot of work in Japan, and am represented by Interlink Planning,
one of the most prestigious visual artist agencies in Japan. My
biggest project there is a line of merchandise licenses distributed
by Sony Creative Products. I have my own line of character based
goods, which were separate from Parappa at that time. It was just
a coincidence for Matsuura that I was already working for a division
of Sony, because he had always imagined me doing the artwork for
the game. The deal went together easily, and I became the master
of the visual side of Parappa. It was my idea that he became a
art and rap? How did those three come together?
again this was Matsuura's territory. He loves rap for its patterns
and rhythm, and believes it to be a very interactive style of
music. I also think he did not want to emphasize the urban or
especially the "gangsta" side of rap. He is more interested in
a fun musical experience. I think this is one of the reasons he
picked me to do the artwork.
did you and Matsuura collaborate? Through email?
Matsurra and Sony Computer would come up with a list of things
they needed for the game. In Tokyo, at a big conference table,
we would sit around and brainstorm for a week, and then I would
return to New York and draw.
was the game made from your end? Did you sketch then digitally
compose the characters?
my work involved piles of sketches and storyboards on paper, which
at that time were sent by fax with Pantone color specifications.
They would FedEx video tapes of animation tests and email stills
of the finished characters, which I would comment on or approve.
are the characters just 2-D?
think we all agreed from the beginning that the original hand
drawn quality of my artwork should be preserved. It is difficult
to do that with limited 3D modeling. They created an experiment
with my 2D characters dancing around in a 3D space. It looked
great, using motion capture technology for the dancing. We all
smiled and laughed.
was the objective of the game?
is a young and hopeful boy dog, who wants to impress his cute
daisy like girl friend Sunny Funny. He thinks learning to Rap
from various masters will help him do this. These masters include
Chop Chop Master Onion - a martial arts teacher, Instructor Mooselini
- a driving teacher, Prince Master Fleaswallow - a salesman at
a flea market, and a few others.
was the biggest limitation you faced while designing it?
These video games are big productions, and they have to be done
fast. My problems included the fact that they are in Tokyo and
Osaka, and I am in New York. There was often a time lag while
they absorbed my ideas into the existing production.
you afraid that the game might seem too cute or bizarre?
back, is there anything you would have done differently in the
the things that we learned, and all the things that we want to
improve are being worked out in Parappa2. For that reason, the
sequel is a bigger challenge than creating the original.
is your favorite game out there?
really like The Neverhood by Doug TenNapel, Edward Schofield and
Mark and Tim Lorenzen, published by Dreamworks.
FEED Magazine & Village Voice columnist