Retro Review: Paperboy
Publisher: Atari Systems
Developer: Atari Systems
I have a theory that you can create a video game out of any job and make it fun. Games like Euro Truck Simulator, Farming Simulator and even Advanced Lawnmower Simulator prove my theory that no matter how mundane the task, there is a game that can be enjoyed.
Paperboy continues that trend and having been a humble paperboy myself earning a meagre £6.55 a week, the reality of posting papers and avoiding nasty dogs wasn’t as much fun as breaking windows and lobbing papers at angry customers like you could in the video game.
My earliest memory of Paperboy is playing the arcade game over 30 years ago. It’s so strange how your mind conjures memories and important moments from your childhood. I can still vividly remember going to an airport when I was about 8 years old. My abiding memory of that day wasn’t seeing planes taking off and landing, instead it was seeing this amazing looking arcade machine that incredibly had handlebars instead of your typical joystick. Upon closer inspection the handlebars were used to control your bike as you made your way up the street flinging papers. I suppose the only way they could have bettered that experience would be to have you pedal!
Paperboy opens up with a front page of the Daily Sun with all the headlines being about the amazing paperboy delivering papers. My first thoughts are that it must be a slow news day in this town!
The game adopts an isometric view with you controlling the Paperboy as he rides up the street. I’m actually beginning to change my mind about the headlines being a bit over the top, because practically everything is trying to stop you from delivering papers. Maybe the town adopts a similar theme to The Hunger Games or Battle Royale whereby young kids are challenged to deliver papers and not die in the process?! I’m not kidding you when I say that everyone and everything is intent on doing you harm.
You are presented with your route before you start choosing varying difficulties. The houses that need a paper are easily identifiable as they are brightly coloured or have door mats which say welcome. If you throw the paper into their letter box or hit the door step you get a bonus, smash a window or miss the target and you lose a subscriber.
As well as avoiding obstacles like cars, drains, remote controlled cars, break dancers and even two blokes having a punch up, you can actually do some good because if you see a burglar trying to break into a house, you can hit him with a paper knocking him unconscious. What the hell is in these papers?! You can also get bonuses for targeting the houses that don’t need a paper by smashing their windows.
At the end of the route you have a chance to earn extra points by tackling an assault course, with the aim of getting to the end in one piece whilst hitting targets and making jumps.
Playing Paperboy now brings back a wave of nostalgia and memories but the truth is that I’m just not very good at the game. It could be me but I can barely make it to the assault course on the easiest level let alone the harder difficulties. Saying that it is still a fun game to play and I would highly recommend you check it out.
Graphics – Bright and colourful graphics with some lovely animations of the various townsfolk who do their best to get in your way. 6
Sound – Cheerful music accompanied by some early digitised speech. 5
Playability – Paperboy is a simple concept and still very playable, especially if you fancy a challenge. 6
Re-Playability – Either I’m getting worse at playing games or Paperboy is extremely tough. I’d suggest the latter but then games were designed to be this way, especially arcade games. 5
Overall – Paperboy will always remain special to me mainly because of the memories. It’s a lot harder than I remember but I will always fire it up every now and then just to see if I can get to the end of the street in one piece. 6