Thursday 15 October 2015

Paperboy (NES review)

Developer: Tengen
Publisher: Mindscape
Released: 1988

Paperboy is an action game that was first released in the Arcades in 1985.

Your objective is to survive a full week on your paper round without losing all four lives. To do this you need to throw newspapers at white, yellow and blue houses without breaking windows; doing so will lose you a customer. Your surplus of papers can be used to smash the windows of non-customers or to hit objects such as garbage cans for bonus points. Extra papers can be picked up but to access these you'll usually have to navigate your way around enemies which include skateboarders, maintenance workers and even the Grim Reaper! The isometric viewpoint makes it difficult to judge spatial distance between yourself and an obstacle or enemy. Most times you lose a life it's because you incorrectly thought you were lined up perfectly. You also can't see very far ahead and enemies have a tendency to zoom into view at high speeds giving you little time to react. On many occasions you'll clearly see your newspapers land on the customer's porch yet the game won't recognise it; it's infuriating when this happens as you'll lose a subscriber despite doing nothing wrong. If you manage to reach the end of the round there's an obstacle course where you have to reach the end in one life while hitting as many targets as possible. It's a decent diversion although the layout is always the same and you can quickly work out the best route and always stick to it. Overall, replay value is low as there's no difficulty settings and only one route so you'll see the same things each day of your round. The graphics look like a budget C64 game with poor animation and there's only one music track.

Paperboy is certainly a unique and highly memorable game but it's also massively overrated in my book. The thin gameplay mechanics grow tired after a few minutes and the unconventional viewpoint leads to many cheap deaths that will quickly frustrate players.

Random trivia: This version of Paperboy is famous for being the first NES game that was fully developed in the United States.

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