If there's one thing I could ask all those gamers who plug countless hours into rhythmic games such as Rock Band or Guitar Hero, who feel as though these are the greatest games the world has to offer, whose high scores are so unbelievably epic that God would come down and say "wow, that's epic", it would be this; "have you ever heard of Um Jammer Lammy?" If they said yes, I would gladly give them a high five. If not, then I would gladly sit them down and force feed them the wonderful world of Um Jammer Lammy, a spin off title from the Parappa the Rapper series.
It's about a guitar playing "anthropomorphic" lamb named Lammy who plays for the band Milk Can along side her friends, Katy Kat and Masan. Lammy's world turns upside down after experiencing an interesting nightmare in which she is running late to one of her band's performances. It is here that she meets the Chop Chop Master, who for whatever reason has a perfectly good human body, but an onion for a head. He's also able to sing rather well. After they do a small duet together, the Chop Chop Master asks Lammy what exactly she's playing as a guitar; it's a vacuum. After Lammy confesses that she is nothing without her guitar, the Chop Chop Master tells her the story of his dojo which has since disappeared. He tells her how even though it's not there anymore, he still retains his memories of it in his mind. It is through this story that Lammy is taught that no matter what she does in life, her guitar will always be in her mind. Upon waking Lammy realizes that she is in fact running late to her next Milk Can performance. What would have normally been an easy sprint down the street, turns into a street with thousands of detours as it seems everyone needs Lammy's help; firefighters, midwives, air pilots, and so on. Lammy takes the Chop Chop Master's advice to heart and in every task she does, she simply imagines herself playing her guitar and through this is able to complete the most strenuous of tasks. For example, when she is asked to help a bunch of fire fighting Dalmations to save a burning building, she simply pretends that the fire hose is a guitar and successfully puts the fire out. After many more tasks such as this, Lammy finally reaches the venue and plays one last song, actual guitar in hand, along side her Milk Can band members.
Strange story aside, the gameplay style is very similar to Guitar Hero's in that they give you a stream of buttons you need to press. Upon pressing them you are rated either cool, good, bad, or awful. Good is the level in which you start and if you are talented enough, you will be able to obtain a "cool" rank which will lead you into a special stage where you are able to free style and increase your high score significantly. On the other hand, If you start messing up, your rank will then drop to bad and then finally to awful which will keep you from finishing the round. After beating the main storyline on normal mode, you will then unlock a co-op mode and a versus mode with both Parappa the Rapper, a rapping puppy, and Rammy, an ex-guitar player for Milk Can who pretty much hates Lammy. Rammy plays a very small role in the main storyline whereas Parappa's role is pretty much a spinoff of the Um Jammer Lammy storyline.
The ranking can be pretty sporadic since sometimes, you feel as though you sound awesome, however, the game will find you absolutely revolting. This is especially apparent in the co-op modes where you play against Rammy. Sometimes she'll play just one note and gain massive points, whereas you'll play the riff exactly right and receive negative points. It can get very frustrating, however, it's still pretty fun to try and create whole new patterns for your favorite songs. There is also a single player mode for Parappa the rapper where all of the songs are remixed in order to accommodate for his rapping style.
You will notice that the art style of this game is very "animated". There are a lot of animal/human crossbreeds and everyone seems to be constructed out of thin sheets of paper. So, it seems as though this game was marketed towards children, however, there are quite a few adult themes throughout. The music, although some of the lyrics are subpar, you will find that no matter how hard you try, you will start humming along. Along with that, since the game is so short, it's really easy to simply replay it over and over again. I revisited this game not too long ago myself and I found that I still remembered most of the lyrics.
I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who is into Japanese cartoons and/or rhythm games as it really is one of the best titles of its kind. I have yet to play Parappa the Rapper, but I have heard that if you liked that, you would love this. So If you have some time to kill and a PSN account (should only cost about $5.99) I would definitely suggest giving this title a try. I have had mine nearly eight years and I wouldn't trade it for any thing.