When I was seven years old, I could never beat the Cheap Cheap Chicken stage of Parappa the Rapper. Now that I'm an adult and the HD remaster has been released for the Playstation 4, I figured I'd finally get past it. I was wrong.
Parappa the Rapper is a game bursting with joy. You play as a rapping dog trying to win the heart of his crush, a sunflower named Sunny Funny. His moments of growth and self improvement are shown through a rapping rhythm game. Parappa learns kung fu, learns how to drive, gets a job, and at one point tries to bake a cake for Sunny's birthday.
Somehow, baking a cake is the single most difficult piece of Parappa's personal growth. In the game, Parappa is following a recipe from a cooking show, hosted by Cheap Cheap Chicken. When you rap poorly, she comes out of the television to yell at you. She's an arsehole.
Up until this point, both now and as a kid, the game was a breeze. I hadn't failed a stage once. This chicken kicked my arse, and now I hate her.
What's most frustrating is that this song is a bop. As features editor Chris Kohler said to me, it might be the best song in the game. It has a great beat with a saucy horn loop, and Cheap Cheap Chicken has a fun, lazy flow, while also sounding like a passable Julia Childs. It's also got some of my favourite jokes in the game. At one point, Cheap Cheap raps, "The other day, someone called me a little turkey/But I'm a chicken dammit, ya beef jerky!" Even as I curse her very existence, I have to admit that's some clever wordplay.
But every time I play it, I find new and creative ways to fuck it up. I've gotten to the final line of the song, and failed. I have gone from U rappin' Good to U rappin' Awful so quickly it's made my head spin. I texted my brother to see if he remembered this stage being the worst back in the 90s, and he told me, "You have to learn to rap in real life first. I think that's the secret." I may never defeat this chicken.
Part of the reason why this song in particular is so hard is because it changes the rhythm from line to line in a way that's hard to predict. Parappa the Rapper requires very exacting timing. Even with Cheap Cheap demonstrating the line before I play it, it's easy to be just slightly off and fail a section. I took to YouTube to see the entire song and get a feel for how the rhythms change, and a lot of what I found was other people complaining about this fucking chicken.
The very first line of Cheap Cheap Chicken's rap is, "Every single day, stress comes in every way." It seems clear to me that this stage is the source of a lot of people's stress. At the very least, she is the current source of mine.