Reviewed: February 18, 2007
Released: February 14, 2007
I was happy to hear Paperboy was coming to Xbox Live Arcade a few weeks ago. I remember putting more than a few tokens in the arcade machine back in the day.
The original arcade machine had a mock bike handle for a controller complete with studded handgrips. It wasn’t the easiest game in the world to control, but it was fun. Generally, arcade games with oddball controllers don’t translate very well to console systems. This game was a pretty simple premise so I had hope.
In Paperboy, the player controls a young lad on a bike who delivers the daily newspaper in one of three neighborhoods. When you start the game you pick between Easy St, Middle Rd., and Hard Way. Each neighborhood consists of two city blocks with obstacles based on your choice of difficulty.
The object of Paperboy is to deliver newspapers to all your customers on the street. Your customers are in colored houses, while non-customers are in black houses. You deliver papers by throwing them onto doormats or into mailboxes. Bonus points are awarded for breaking the windows of non-customer houses. You can also get more points by hitting various people or objects along the way with a newspaper.
You have to be careful where you throw papers. If you break windows or miss the target areas of your subscribers, they will cancel their subscription on the following day. If you successfully deliver a paper to all your customers, you will get a new subscriber the next day.
Along the way you have to avoid dogs, cats, cars, skateboarders, r/c cars, bombers, kids on big wheels, and all kinds of other problems. Occasionally there are surprises like wolfmen or crazy housewives to avoid.
Each day after you have completed your route, you go to an obstacle course where you try to hit targets and navigate successfully across the finish line. You get more points for using jumps and hitting targets along the way. Then comes the next day of deliveries. Just when you think you have the game beat, along comes Sunday when the papers are bigger, heavier, and do not travel as fast when thrown.
Xbox Live functionality is very basic. In versus mode you hook up with one other person and you both start at the same time. You can see their score in the lower right of the screen, but otherwise you have no real idea what they are doing. The person who lasts the longest wins. In co-op mode, one drives while the other throws the papers. There are the usual ranked and unranked matches. That’s it.
The controls are actually a little easier to handle than the original arcade game. The left stick steers the bike and A throws the papers.
This version is exactly like the original arcade version. Digital Eclipse did the port and it is completely faithful to the original. The graphics have not been updated, but there really isn’t a whole lot they could do with it.
The graphics are similar in style to Super Sprint, 720 Skate or Die, and other raster type 256 color games.
Again, Digital Eclipse faithfully reproduced the original game, sounds and all. The digitized voice – similar to a Cylon - at the start of the game and the paperboy’s voice after a crash are true to form. It brings back memories. There are even a few references to 1980’s slang terms like “being slimed”.
Yes, they actually made a game out of delivering newspapers. It’s easy and quick fun for about a day. A few days after it was released, it was nearly impossible to find anyone else playing it on Xbox Live. So get your achievement points while you can.
200 Achievement points are available:
I had a friend come over to try out the 2 player mode and give me a neutral third party opinion. Granted, my friend isn’t from the arcade generation, but she does like videogames and takes great joy in putting a few rounds in someone’s head in Rainbow Six Vegas. Within 3 minutes she was bored with Paperboy. Actually she found the whole premise to be stupid. Why would anyone want to play a game delivering newspapers?
You know, she’s got a point. I thought this game was really fun in the arcade. I didn’t realize how much the controller was part of the experience back then. Of course, back then these graphics were pretty cool; now, not so much. This game just doesn’t have the nostalgia or replay value of Pac-Man or other classic games. As with most task-oriented games, once you have your achievement points, it’s unlikely you’ll touch this game again.