Paperboy (Game Boy) review
"Newspapers are great. They fill you in on world events, they have sports news, they have TV listings, they have lots of pictures. Yes, people like newspapers. Paperboys, though, are less popular. They are never on time during school holidays, the paper is usually in a terrible state when it is delivered, and you have to tip them every Christmas for the pleasure! But spare a thought for the humble paperboy next time you see him riding his bike down the road, whistling an innocent little tune, bec..."
Newspapers are great. They fill you in on world events, they have sports news, they have TV listings, they have lots of pictures. Yes, people like newspapers. Paperboys, though, are less popular. They are never on time during school holidays, the paper is usually in a terrible state when it is delivered, and you have to tip them every Christmas for the pleasure! But spare a thought for the humble paperboy next time you see him riding his bike down the road, whistling an innocent little tune, because you have no idea what he has to go through to get you your morning paper delivered in time for your breakfast. Hurricanes, psycho dogs, even the big guy himself - Death - are out to get them. No wonder the paper is so messed up by the time it gets delivered to your door!
In gaming it is often the simplest ideas that are the best. Tetris, for example, demonstrates this, as does Paperboy. The game sees you, as a Paperboy (you'd probably worked that out by now, though), going about your weekly work. The road that you deliver papers to contains roughly twenty houses, some of which subscribe to your paper, some of which don't. Do a good job and more people subscribe. Do a bad job and people start to cancel their subscription. Make it to the end of the week with people still wanting your services and you have successfully completed the game. Hurrah! But it isn't quite as easy as that I'm afraid. It seems that the life of a paperboy is a perilous one. As well as being attacked by the hooded dude with the scythe, you are chased by deranged dogs and enraged geriatrics, remote controlled cars get beneath your wheels, and real cars get you beneath theirs. It's a hazardous profession. Paperboys everywhere, I salute you! Of course, you do get a chance to let off some steam. You can use your papers to break windows, lamps etc., and you can cycle over people's flowerbeds, messing up the plants. Just make sure when you do this that it isn't to a subscriber's house, otherwise there'll be one less newspaper to deliver the next morning. In addition, at the end of the street there is an obstacle course where you can hone your skills. It contains jumps, hoops and electric fences: it's like motorcross maniacs only less big (and less good).
The graphics in this game are no more complicated than they need to be. The mailboxes of non-subscribers are a darker shade to avoid confusion, the houses are clear enough and you can tell if you are heading straight for something that will bring you trouble. Taking an isometric view, the game scrolls like a shooter, with the character heading diagonally up and right, with the houses to his left. The graphics may be sparse, but if they were more complex and detailed, it may have become too difficult to discern just what was going on on the tiny monochrome Game Boy screen. The only time it gets hard to see what is going on is after you have died - your character turns into some sort of blob which, even after all these years, I have been unable to identify. Still, by then you're dead anyway, so it doesn't really matter. The game manages to move along at a brisk pace, and there is little noticeable slowdown, so ultimately this game is well presented graphically.
In the sound department, however, things are slightly less impressive. While the tune is good enough, it does start to grate after a while as it is the only one present in the game. You'll probably find yourself reaching for the volume before you get to the end of the game. The sound effects, though, are as good as any you'll find on the Game Boy - the most impressive being the dog barks. While these do sound slightly tinny, and you are hardly likely to mistake them for a real dog, they are above average by GB standards. A mixed bag for your ears, then.
Overall, this is a fantastic package - the game is addictive, the presentation is good, the controls are responsive, but it does have one major detracting factor, which prevents it from scoring higher. A port of an arcade game, Paperboy is very short: you go down the same street seven times, then it's over. While the game is not easy (the difficulty is not overly hard, either, but it is fairly taxing), it'll still be completed fairly swiftly. Although this is faithful to the arcade original, attempts could have been to increase the longevity of the game - more difficulty settings for example. That said though, Paperboy is still fun, if short-lived, and you'll still come back to it on a fairly regular basis, making purchase worthwhile. If you need to save up for it, why not get a paper round or something?
Community review by tomclark (March 07, 2004)
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