paperboy-1

Genre: Simulation
Year: 1988
Developed by: Eastridge Technology
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Arcade, NES, almost everything else
#446
Feeling Like: Obstacle Course

I’ve finally figured out why I like big, high definition television sets. Let’s get the obvious out of the way; they’re better in every regard.  They can show off images with crystal clear precision, display vibrant colors and removes the need to squint. But the real reason why my average sized TV for the last ten years has been 52.6 inches lies in the past.

By some miracle, I had access to a Nintendo Entertainment System when I was seven years old. I believe Granny Skey bought it for me, but I can’t be too sure of anything these days. For example, last week I put my car keys with my lunch in the fridge so I wouldn’t forget my lunch. I then proceeded to spend 12 minutes in the morning searching for my car keys. My short and long term memory both need an upgrade.

To complement my NES, I had access to an 11 inch CRT. I never figured out what the second dial did, but I did eventually figure out that my parents wouldn’t let me hook up the console to our much larger television because it would “ruin” it. It’s quite a rite of passage, figuring out for the first time that your parents are perfectly capable of either a) lying to you or b) not knowing what they’re talking about.

The TV was never big enough and I specifically remember blaming it for my multitude of deaths while playing Paperboy. It didn’t help that sometimes the screen was perched on a dresser that was enormously high for me to stare up to constantly, likely resulting in my current neck ache today. Now that I’m an adult (hah!), it’s big TVs here on out, so that I can only blame my lack of skill and not the best in screen size technology.

I always like games that defy genres. What is Paperboy? It is a platformer? Is it an action game? Is it a…vertical…shooter…paper delivery game? It sounds like a weird concept now, but in the 1980s, weird was on the menu every night.

paperboy-2
Like a Grim Reaper wanting to murder you for doing your paper route weird

 

Paperboy was infinitely more fun than actually delivering newspapers in real life. Another rite of passage was trying to convince your parents why you didn’t have to do the paper route this week because nobody wants to read the Oak Bay News and it’s cold outside. If I hadn’t had David V to help me, I would have quit in the second week.

The game has seven levels and can be defeated in less than 15 minutes. That’s short, even by Nintendo standards. Once you figure out that as long as a few houses get their news, you can spend the majority of your time dodging break dancers, skateboarders, dogs, sentient lawnmowers, motorcyclists, angry homeowners, construction workers and a myriad of other assholes who won’t get out of my way and what the hell is a tornado doing chasing after me?

The game gets progressively harder the further in the week you go, making it the only time in the history of anything where a Monday is preferable to a Saturday. There’s a fun obstacle course at the completion of each level, but the isometric(ish?) view always screwed with me and instead of leaping gracefully from a ramp, I would crash into the wall at the highest speed possible.

I like Paperboy. It’s simple, doesn’t pretend it’s anything but a basic arcade port – dodge this, hit that, listen to our only song on a 15 second loop and try to enjoy yourself.

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