Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Arcade - Paperboy


Alright, now we're talking. This is Retro Gaming people REMEMBER. No, really.

If you like Retro Gaming, just the mere mention of Paperboy has probably already got you humming the music in your head... I know I have. Aaargh, will have to go and play it. Now.
OK, had a quick game. Guess what? It's half the fun without the handlebars.

Alright, seriously now, this is one of those occasions where I think we have to stand in awe of Atari. Y'see, there's been many games brought out with kind of unique ideas, but they've never stayed that way. Here, with the exception of the hopeless home computer rip-off "Paperboy 2", I can't think of another game like this.
Here's the premise, on the surface it's very simple: Deliver newspapers to your customers, avoiding obstacles on the way. Now, you could take that as the be-all-and-end-all of it, but it's far from that simple.

First off, your customers. They all own nice bright houses, with big letter boxes. Deliver a paper to their door or their letter box to keep their custom. As Paperboys go, you're as lazy as they come, flinging the paper, America-style, whilst riding your bike down the street. Yup, none of this lark of riding your bike on one pedal and jumping off or even entirely by foot in the depths of winter, putting the paper through nicely like us harder, stiff-upper-lipped British Boys do, just simply pedal and pelt the papers, pulverising pugilists and pleasing your patrons, perambulating the pathway as you go.
 OK, now I've got that awful bit of alliteration out of the way (sorry, couldn't resist), I can get back to explaining the game. As well as customers, you have... that's right, non-customers. Did you see that one coming? They all own dark houses, many with gravestones in their front garden, and you can either simply not deliver a paper to them, or you can smash their furniture and/or windows and accumulate a "damage" bonus. Nice, huh?
If you manage to miss any customers along your way or damage their property, they will cancel their subscription. Lose ALL your customers and you'll get your P45 and Marching Orders, in other words "Game Over". Oh, and you have a limited supply of newspapers to throw, so don't get too happy with the fire button, although there are more you can collect.
In MAME, the game is best controlled with the mouse (although it's tricky), but in the arcades the cabinet had a set of handlebars mounted on the front, which were truly awesome. But the best bit of the game comes at the end of each day's round... the stunt course. Suddenly you are armed with an infinite supply of papers, which you can throw at the targets for big bonus points, whilst negotiating winding paths, narrow bridges and jumps. It's a bit of a change of pace, but incredibly good fun.

Once again, it's the "nice touches" that make this game so awesome. Some of the obstacles and bonuses you can score are normal everyday things, from the people driving cars down the street to the young lad with the remote control car, to cats and dogs, drunk pedestrians, unicycle-riding punks (erm?) and the naughty cat-burglar trying to break in a side-window. Most of these can be dealt with by means of high-speed Newspaper, but some have to simply be avoided. It's worth getting them with a newspaper though, for example there's often two men having a fist fight... hurl a newspaper at them to knock one out and the other raises his arms in victory. Nice.
One thing is for sure, if you spend 5 minutes on this game, you WILL be humming the music for the rest of the day. Gah, I'm STILL humming it now. Everyone around me wonders what the hell it is I'm singing.
Paperboy. It'll ruin your life. But you have to play it.

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