Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Retro Video Game Review - Paperboy for Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64
Publisher: Midway Home Entertainment
Developer: High Voltage Software
Genre: Mission-Based Racing


An updated remake of the 1985 arcade hit, Paperboy for the Nintendo 64 puts you in the role of a Paperboy or Papergirl. Your job is to get on your bike and deliver newspapers to your subscribers within a specific amount of time.

While peddling along in the various 3D neighborhoods, you must avoid cars, cats, dogs, rolling tires, bad kids, kids on tricycles, workers and other dangerous obstacles (over 100 in all). Houses line both sides of the street and you must throw the papers in mailboxes and on porches. The farther you are from a mailbox when you throw a paper, the more time you will earn.

To help you with your delivery route, the following power-ups are available: Paper Spray enables you to scatter papers in all directions at the same time; Super Jump sends you high into the air; Monster Potion makes your character stronger (not to mention uglier) and able to throw papers harder; and Rocket Boost makes you fast and invincible. You score points for every paper you deliver and for jumping ramps and performing bicycle tricks like Handstands and Tailwhips. You also get points for breaking windows of non-subscriber's houses and for throwing papers at various obstacles.

There are more than 45 delivery routes in Paperboy. Each has a Bonus Course that can be accessed by collecting the three Bonus Coins hidden within each level. The game takes place in many different neighborhood environments, such as the desert, the beach, a spooky monster town and a park, where you must deliver papers to campers. Throughout the game you'll encounter a number of boss characters that you must confront, with the first being a monster running loose in Dr. Tesla's Castle!


With its original concept, addictive challenges, handlebar controls, and sarcastic wit, the original Paperboy by Atari Games was an arcade smash. To do well in the game, players had to think of many things at once: aiming, steering, going fast or slow, restocking and conserving ammo, and avoiding or throwing papers at a wild assortment of obstacles.

It was a challenge to ride by the homes of subscribers and non-subscribers, as different strategies were required for each. Non-subscribers' homes were basically shooting galleries while subscribers' homes required a single, accurate toss of a newspaper. To get really good at Paperboy, many quarters were required.

Paperboy for the Nintendo 64 has many of the same objectives and goals as the original game. It all boils down to delivering papers to subscribers while abusing non-subscribers. In addition, the game is loaded down with the typical features one might expect from a late 1990s update of a mid-1980s Arcade classic.

You'll find tons of new obstacles, the ability to do bicycle tricks, a variety of power-ups, a diverse array of delivery routes and, of course, 3D graphics. The question is this: do the enhancements actually improve upon the original game or at least make the Paperboy concept fresh and exciting for a modern audience? The answer is a resounding no.

The original Paperboy was a linear experience. Once you passed by a subscriber's home, you could not go back, so you lost a customer if you didn't manage to land a newspaper on their porch or in their mailbox. In the remake, you can wander all over the place and go back to homes you may have missed and get them each a paper.

This aspect of the gameplay takes away some of the immediacy of delivering papers and removes the necessity of aiming correctly the first time around. In fact, aiming isn't much of a factor in the new game. Since the playfield is 3D, all you have to do is ride your bicycle right up to a mailbox or porch and simply drop a paper off. In the original Paperboy, throwing a newspaper in a mailbox was both challenging and risky.

Nonlinear gameplay and 3D graphics simply don't mesh well with the Paperboy concept. While the original game required full concentration and genuine skill on the part of the gamer, the Nintendo 64 version is challenging only because of poor, loose controls. Also, performing bicycle tricks and hunting for coins is boring and seems like a wasted effort since each level is timed.

The graphics in this game are weird and ugly. Slanted houses, odd angles and triangular characters add up to an unpleasant visual experience. The music and sound effects, which are flat and ordinary, could've easily been achieved on the less powerful Super NES.

Paperboy for the Nintendo 64 is a contrived and convoluted mess. It proves that 3D graphics and nonlinear gameplay don't necessarily make for a better game. If you own a PlayStation, do yourself a favor and pick up Arcade's GreatestHits/The Atari Collection 2. It includes the original Paperboy as well as five other arcade classics, all in their original forms.

Check out sample pages of my books on Amazon HERE.

No comments: