Reviews: 'Musika' Picks Up Torch Left by 'PaRappa'

Music and video games have been a winning combination lately, with hits like "Guitar Hero" taking center stage.

But a decade ago, Japanese game creator Masaya Matsuura was already spinning his own unique blend of tunes and fun with "PaRappa the Rapper" for the original PlayStation console.

The game has only now been reborn on Sony's PlayStation Portable, and for better or worse, it's essentially the same experience on a smaller screen.

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After all this time, "PaRappa" ($29.99, Rated E) hasn't lost any of its good humor and lighthearted fun. You are "PaRappa" and must guide him to rap stardom by mastering a series of raps — and the unfailing love of romantic interest, a flower named Sunny Funny.

Rapping is accomplished by tapping the buttons at just the right time. It's not particularly hard, and with only six songs even those who can't hold a tune will quickly breeze through the game.

"PaRappa" was an incredibly fresh and innovative game when it first debuted, but it definitely shows signs of age by today's standards. Sony surely could have done more with this lovable franchise beyond some added multiplayer features.

Matsuura, meanwhile, has moved on.

His newest game, "Musika," works only with fifth-generation, video-capable iPods from Apple Inc.

Available for $4.99 on Apple's iTunes software, I found it to be a simple visual diversion for music lovers looking to entertain their eyes as well as their ears.

The game offers some unique personalization by using the music on your iPod as the source material.

As the title of the song scrolls across the bottom of the screen, letters and numbers will continually and gradually appear above.

If you see a character that's in the song title, quickly press the center button on the iPod scroll wheel to rack up points. If it's not a match, press the forward button asap to skip.

That's really all there is to it.

The only challenge is that the characters become increasingly hard to immediately recognize, and you'll have just a second or so to make the right decision as swarms of leaves and other patterns magically become letters and numbers.

It's this simplicity that makes "Musika" the perfect way to while away a few minutes at the airport or the train station. And it sure beats "Brick" and the other games that come preloaded on the iPod.

Two-and-a-half stars out of four for "PaRappa," three stars out of four for "Musika."