Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Paperboy

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bill-swift - February 5, 2014

Tweeting birds, perfectly manicured fancy-ass lawns, a little dude on a bike throwing newspapers to homeowners... it's the kind of idyllic suburban scene that gives you a warm feeling in your balls. Or something. What it isn't, is a particularly interesting basis for a video game.

Nothing ever happens in such places that's worth playing through. Can we expect a Professor Layton-esque mystery game, in which we must question slutty housewives to see who's sleeping with whose husband? No, no we can't. Instead, let's party like it's 1984 and take another look at the arcade classic Paperboy.

This toon-tastic little adventure hit arcades thirty years ago, and (the port) would become notable as the first NES game to be developed in the U.S. In a delightfully uber-violent gaming era, when spaceships were being destroyed en masse and aliens shot in the ass by the hundred, this was a real novelty.

What's that blur-tastic thing in the path? Don't ask.

Our protagonist is an anonymous paperboy, tasked with delivering his precious cargo over the course of a week. You are given a map of the neighborhood as the day (read 'level') begins, showing which houses to deliver to and which not. The player is in constant motion throughout, and your objective is to time your throws, or deliveries, so that each of your customers get their bills/porn magazines/birthday card from grandma promptly.

If that big guy at the bottom of the street doesn't get the latest edition of Massive 'Mams Monthly on time, he's going to be all kinds of pissed. Indeed, angry customers are but one of the perilous obstacles that await you. Don't be fooled by Paperboy's simplistic and innocent exterior, it's a struggle for your very survival. Put another way, it's all rather twee and harmless looking, until the effing Grim Reaper starts chasing you down the street.

Beware of the dog. It's an ass.

Everything from giant mutated pets to remote control cars and storm drains want to kill you horribly. On higher difficulties, the game becomes quite the challenge as you balance survival with your shots at the high score. Which is pretty much the case with all arcade games, but you're not usually in danger of being run down on the intersection by a weird-ass drag racer.

You have to be diligent with your paper throwing. Breaking windows of houses will detract from your score, and the more pissy residents will set traps for you the next day if you cause damage to their homes. Accuracy is key, you want to get that crap right in the mailbox for maximum score-age. Certain obstacles, such as the drunks, will earn you bonus points when hit by newprinty justice, and there are other little tricks you can take advantage of too. Also in keeping with the best arcade games, the good old ‘easy to play, hard to master' effect is at work here.

Most important of all, the arcade unit is utterly crazy-ass, controlled by means of bicycle handlebars equipped with buttons. Which is far too cool to resist.

Source of screenshots: arcade.svatopluk.

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