Um Jammer Lammy NOW! (found arcade port of PlayStation rhythm game; 1999)
Um Jammer Lammy is a rhythm video game developed by NanaOn-Sha and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the Sony PlayStation in March 1999 as a spin-off follow up to 1996’s PaRappa the Rapper game. By the end of the year, an arcade version co-developed by Namco, titled Um Jammer Lammy NOW! was released in Japanese arcades in December 1999.
In 1999, Konami proved to Japan that arcade rhythm games were a successful trend, having released popular games such as Beatmania, Dance Dance Revolution, Pop'n Music, GuitarFreaks and DrumMania. Hidehisa Ichikawa was in charge of machine and equipment sales during the advent of the rhythm game hype and notes that Namco’s president at the time, Masaya Nakamura, wanted the input of the sales and marketing divisions to help the developers to make new products. He highlighted that in 1999, Namco was aiming to take down Konami’s reign in the rhythm game world. Seeing the success of Konami, Namco (along with other companies such as Jaleco) decided to make their own rhythm games. Namco's team enthusiastically decided that they would start with guitars, and simultaneously started work on FOUR different guitar rhythm games at the same time: Quest For Fame, Guitar Jam, Million Hits, and Um Jammer Lammy NOW! Ichikawa and others referred to them as ギター4兄弟 or the “four guitar brothers,” since they were all developed closely together. Junichiro Koyama, a producer at Namco, adds that a lot of the people including himself were familiar with the mechanical side of things, but not the software. As such, they referenced a list of game developers starting alphabetically at "A" and called each one.
Only two of Namco’s guitar rhythm games (Guitar Jam and Million Hits) were developed by Namco on the software side and all of the games used software or hardware from other companies. Namco’s determination to release a popular rhythm game as soon as possible was clear, especially as the games came out within a year of development. There is no known information as to how it was decided that Um Jammer Lammy specifically should be one of the games that Namco would port into an arcade version. Based on promotional material from various times before release, we do know that the “NOW!” addition in the game’s title was added late in development. According to Namco’s official website for Um Jammer Lammy NOW!, there were ~114 Namco-affiliated arcades that were considered for location testing. However, it is not known if all locations actually ended up with a machine. It had the largest known location test out of all the guitar games they made, so they likely expected it to be more successful than the others. Despite Namco’s efforts to be successful in the rhythm game arcade scene, their guitar games did not sell well. It would take one more year before Namco would release Taiko no Tatsujin, which would be the massively successful rhythm game that they wanted. Um Jammer Lammy NOW! and the related games were forgotten by Namco and the general public, with the machines being removed from most arcades by the end of 2001.
Um Jammer Lammy NOW! runs on the Namco System 12, which is based on PlayStation 1 hardware. The control scheme with physical guitars mounted on the machine is called the “Guitar’n’Table”. The game makes use of 6 buttons. Most notably the Joe Switch and the Chin Switch, which resembles the L and R buttons in the PlayStation version. In Cool Mode, the L and R symbols in Fever Mode are changed to their J and C equivalents. The game is run by a single CD-ROM disc (Which contains the game's cutscenes, music and Joe Chin voice clips with little to no actual game data) and a few ROM chips on the board which contains most of the game's data such as the 3D models, sprites, scenes, sound effects, and game code. One of the main things about Um Jammer Lammy NOW! is that there’s a significant amount of new content, new music, difficulty levels such as Easy, Normal and Hard, new cutscenes, and high-quality audio. In the arcade version, PaRappa and Rammy are playable in Stage 1 along with Versus Mode and Team Mode, which is something that was not added in the PlayStation version. (Most likely due to the lack of disk space)
The game gained attention again in 2003-2013 with several internet forums being created asking where the machine was as it was nowhere to be found in Japan. Over the years, lost images and recordings were published, several of them being from Japanese programs, showing screenshots of the game, but nothing more. On February 1st, 2023, on the reddit forum r/Parappa, user u/R7CrazyCanucks disclosed that he had been in contact with one person who owned an Um Jammer Lammy NOW! arcade cabinet and still has it. This is followed up by a short clip of the machine in action showing the continue screen, the game, and the machine itself. The owner of the cabinet, user u/Fireandironisaplace even showed up in the comments and said the following:
Hi I have the machine. If you’d like I can film a few more clips of gameplay. It was in storage and now works although I need new fuses for the internal sound. At the moment it’s wired to new speakers just to play.
Someone contacted me a while back and will visit when he’s next in the UK to come and do it. (Referring to dumping the ROM) I’d like to make it available to all who want it. I didn’t realise the game was being searched for! I bought it because I loved playing Um Jammer Lammy (and PaRappa) on PS. But I’m thrilled it still looks good and works. It’s been stored on a barn for ten years but well protected.
A few days later, u/Fireandironisaplace uploaded some more clips of the arcade machine. Some of them being a close-up view of the machine and the Guitar’n’Table controllers, one showing the machine booting up with never before seen Joe Chin commercials, one showing the music video to MilkCan’s Got to Move music video, and most infamously, a video showing never before seen gameplay footage of PaRappa in Stage 1. While the reddit user has not yet had his identity disclosed, it has been later revealed by many PaRappa fans that the British UK Celebrity; Jonathan Ross owns the cabinet due to a post he made on his Twitter about the machine on March 8th, 2009. Eric Yockey (founder of Unit-e Technologies) got in contact with Jonathan Ross in early 2020. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it delayed things heavily until April 12th, 2023, when he finally made it to the machine. A few days later, Eric filmed and took a bunch of photos and videos of the arcade cabinet, the internals, and the game itself.
The CD-ROM of the game was dumped on April 12th, 2023 that same day and released on May 26th, 2023 onto the Internet Archive by Eric Yockey, and the ROM chips of the game from the same cabinet were dumped on September 11th, 2023 by Phil Bennett and sent over to Eric for it to be released on September 19th, 2023 onto the Internet Archive rendering the game 100% found. The game is playable in the latest version of MAME.
- Wikipedia page on Um Jammer Lammy.
- PaRappa the Rapper Wiki page on Um Jammer Lammy NOW!
- The "Um Jammer Lammy NOW! Video Series" YouTube playlist by Eric Yockey.
- Archive.org upload of the full ROM dump.
- BANDAI NAMCO CHISHIN "The 3rd Taiko no Tatsujin Birth Secret Story Until Now Part 1" Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- An interview with Mr. Koyama and Mr. Tamiya of "VR ZONE" Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- Archived Namco webpage about where you can play Um Jammer Lammy NOW! Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- Original reddit post about the cabinet being found. Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- Footage of the cabinet exterior. Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- Footage of the game booting up with never before seen Joe Chin commercials. Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- Footage of MilkCan's Got to Move music video seen in this version. Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- Gameplay footage of Stage 1 as PaRappa uploaded to YouTube by Jonathan Ross. Retrieved 14 Mar '23
- Original tweet about the machine from March 8, 2009. Retrieved 14 Mar '23