Xbox 360
Games for Lunch: Def Jam Rapstar

Posted by Kyle Orland (October 20, 2010)

Games for Lunch chronicles the first hour of a different game every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each hour ends with the answer to the only question that matters at that point: Do I want to keep playing? For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

Developers: 4mm Games, Terminal Reality, Def Jam Interactive
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: Oct. 5, 2010
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site

In a nutshell: Rap rap, a ribbity rap rap, a rip rop ribbity do!

0:00 I’m not a big fan of rap... pretty much the opposite in fact. I am a big fan of rhythm and music games, though, so I’m looking forward to seeing if this one handles rapping better than Rock Band 2.

0:01 Lot of logos, then a city skyline. Videos of a bunch of rappers I vaguely recognize are projected many stories high on to the sides of the buildings. I recognize very few of the songs they’re spitting, but LL Cool J and Daft Punk stand out. Maybe this won’t be so bad...

0:02 Audio calibration time. I have to turn up the volume and point the microphone at the TV. Turns out I have a 117ms delay. Good to know!

0:04 I turn up the microphone volume so I can hear myself through the TV and hop into Career mode, where I can “rise through the ranks and become a DEF JAM RAPSTAR!” Really, game? You needed to turn on the caps lock there?

0:05 Seven songs are available to start, but I have to click through with the A button to hear a preview on the menu screen. Lame. The only one I know even vaguely is Salt n Pepa’s “Push It.” I’d better leave it on Easy...

0:07 Pop-up messages tell me the gameplay basics: A timing ball will bounce between circular targets above the lyrics. I have to rap accurately and rhythmically to earn my points. There are multipliers and bonuses for streaks, etc.

0:09 Quote of the moment: “Sa-sa-sa-sa-sa-Salt and Pepa’s here!” Now them’s some lyrics!

0:11 Wow, that song makes you whisper “Ah, push it!” a lot! Doing this alone in my living room makes me vaguely uncomfortable.

0:12 First song complete. Right off, I like how the game previews the next line of lyrics below the current one. It doesn’t preview the rhythm, though, so I was forced to sight read as I tried desperately to keep up with the bouncing ball. The smooth movement of the ball helped a bit, as did the generous spacing of the words. The game seems to respond to my rhythm pretty well, but it’s Easy mode so who can say?

0:13 I got two achievements already,. for 15 Gamerscore points total. My 126,782 points for the song are “OFF THE CHAIN,” the game says. Oh, and I scored 87% on lyrics and 90% on timing. Wait, lyrics? You’re judging me if I read the words right?

0:15 No other Career mode songs are at all familiar to me, so I head over to Party mode and scan the complete list. The Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey” is the first song I recognize, so I crank it up to Medium!

0:19 Wow, I knew a lot less of the lyrics to that song than I thought, and I had to read them really quickly to keep up. I knew the rhythms of the words by heart, though, and when my mind could keep up I was really feeling it. A 93% timing, 86% lyrics performance for 213,814 “OFF THE CHAIN” points. Oh, I’m a big fan of being able to skip long instrumental sections with the push of a button. What a great feature!

0:21 Working through the song list again. Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” was one of my rare middle school jams, but it’s unfortunately one of five locked songs. Man... why lock any songs? What’s the point.

0:22 I try Kanye West’s “Stronger” on Hard because I love that Daft Punk backbeat, even if I find the “That’s how long I been on ya” refrain pretty stupid.

0:26 What a mess of a video for that song. Anyway, hard mode really seems to be tougher... when I focus on reading the lyrics instead of following the timing ball, my score meter fills up noticeably more slowly. The 84% lyrics, 79% timing gets me 186,929 points, which is only “ON POINT.” I didn’t know Def Jam were NPR fans.

0:32 Scientific test time. I just went back through “Stronger” on hard, except this time I read random subject lines from my e-mail box instead of trying to rap in rhythm. I got an 18% on lyrics, which is actually a tad higher than I expected. But an 80% on timing? That’s actually BETTER than when I was actually trying! Makes me suspicious of every other “rhythm” score I’ve gotten, actually.

0:35 Spent the last three minutes getting a glass of water a gulping it down like a man trapped in the desert. This rapping stuff is hard on the ol’ vocal chords!

0:43 Man, it is incredibly fun to scream “I’m gonna knock you out! Mama said knock you out!” along with LL Cool J. Any game that gives you an excuse to do that can’t be all bad. That said, the bouncing ball interface makes it really hard to keep up with the changing rhythms in this one. It’s hard to see the rhythm changes coming, because the bouncing ball keeps changing speeds without warning. Some form of variable spacing or scrolling notes or something would have been helpful. Then again, I guess this game is targeted at people who know these beats already.

0:48 Quote of the moment, from P. Diddy’s “All About the Benjamins”: “Bizalls.”

0:49 The way this game blanks out curse words in the lyrics is getting kind of ridiculous. There are two whole lines in this song that are completely silent and shown as “______” in the scrolling lyrics. I had to look them up later. “Like a nigga do, with a trigga too, fuck you.” Gotta keep that T rating somehow, I guess...

0:50 So my original plan was to sing Weird Al’s “All about the Pentiums” over this song, but it turns out the rap parts in this remix don’t actually match up that well. Also, it turns of that this is a REALLY hard song to rap along too if you don’t know it intimately, as my 61% lyrics and 78% timing scores show. I earned an “ON POINT” but I feel I barely deserved it. Man, my throat is raw.

0:57 Biz Markie takes us home with “Just a Friend,” which is very likely the least hardcore rap song on the whole disc. It’s just an incredibly ridiculous song, with an even more ridiculous video featuring Biz Markie in a Beethoven costume and a bunch of incredibly strained rhymes. A small sample: “Let me tell ya a story of my situation /I was talkin' to this girl from the U.S. nation.” Oh Biz Markie. You ham.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? I think I’ve already exhausted all the songs I know/like, and rap just isn’t my thing. It could be a good excuse for rap fans to get into karaoke, though.

This review was based on a retail copy provided by the publisher.

Check out hundreds of archived Games for Lunch reviews on the official Games for Lunch blog.

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