Tuesday 20 October 2015

Paperboy 64 (N64 review)

Developer: High Voltage Software
Publisher: Midway Games
Released: 1998

Paperboy 64 is an updated version of the Arcade classic that was originally released in 1985.

The objective is to deliver newspapers to the correct houses against the clock. There's 100 interactive obstacles, three difficulty settings (Easy Street, Middle Road, Hard Way) as well as over 45 routes which are gradually unlocked by racking up subscribers. Their houses are signposted with green arrows and there's also a map to help. Each round is short and if you miss a subscriber on Easy Street you have to navigate the whole loop again as you can't turn around. It's a mild annoyance but once you move onto Middle Road the training wheels come off and you can suddenly move around in full 3D. This makes the gameplay more interesting and it's surprising that this wasn't the default. Freestyle bike tricks can now be performed but they seem tacked on and serve no real purpose. The main frustration is the camera as it automatically adjusts itself while you're riding but rarely sits exactly behind you; this can sometimes cause issues with lining up shots as you can't always see the best angle and end up missing a house completely. There's a mixture of locations from the original games (i.e. Suburbia and gothic themes) as well as fresh ideas such as deserts, parks and zoos; none of them stand out and are mostly half-baked. There are a few dull boss battles which involve hitting objects with newspapers (i.e. electricity bolt machines) to stop the enemy. The areas are very confined which makes it tricky to control your character and the dodgy camera certainly doesn't help matters. The game also has little personality with generic music, little texture detail, clipping issues and a poor draw distance.

Paperboy 64 certainly isn't the worst game in the world but it does nothing to enhance the franchise and the new locations are uninspiring. While youngsters might find it mildly amusing there's little here to keep anyone's interest peaked for long and it can really only be recommended to die-hard fans of the series.

Random trivia: The source code shows that many bizarre newspaper headlines were originally planned for the game; find out more here.

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