Paperboy was one of the licensing deals, the game was and is, a cult hit in the arcades and the first home computer versions were eagerly awaited. Now this tribute to teenage free enterprise in mid-America has arrived on the Spectrum from Elite and guess what? it's not bad at all.
When you come to think about it, there really isn't anything very special about the gameplay in Paperboy. The game idea is nifty enough, but in the end you aim copies of the paper (which appears to be called the Sun) at letterboxes and swerve your bicycle left and right to avoid obstacles, it could as easily be laser beams, enemy spaceships and battle cruisers. What made the arcade game so special was the quality of the graphics and the great soundtrack, well, loud soundtrack anyway. I had my doubts about how the special qualities of the original would translate to the Spectrum but actually I think Elite has produced its best conversion yet.
The plot of the arcade game has been retained in its entirety - the street designs seem to be almost the same. The idea is to steer your bike along the twisting pavement in front of a row of timber style houses (where the everyday folks live in the American midwest). You have essentially two delivery objectives - get the paper into the letter box of those people who have ordered it (as indicated by a signpost in front of their house), and use the papers as projectiles to smash the windows of those who haven't yet decided to subscribe. I have been asked to stressed at this point that EMAP Central Control was never engaged in such practices to sell any computer magazines or other publications, and anyway we were all somewhere else at the time.
The game could so easily have been one of those flickery sprite jobs, where the garishness of the constantly changing colours is only excelled by the jerkiness of the scrolling. However the programming on Paperboy is way beyond that - the scrolling of the street is very smooth indeed and as for colour clash well, the whole this is in two colours.
The graphics are nicely detailed, if blue. I particularly liked the bonus assault course at the end of the run and the go-cart which drives across your path.
Winning in the game is a matter of combining precision paper throwing with avoidance of casual bystanders, cars, giant tyres - the usual stuff. As a Spectrum conversion, the game inevitably lacks some of what made the original great (like sound) nevertheless I don't think those who buy this on the strength of the original will feel cheated - it's as good a conversion as could reasonably be expected.
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Grab your old bike out of the garage and step up a few gears to enter into the working week of Paperboy, the venerable oldie from Elite, re-released under their Encore label. All you have to do is to deliver papers on each day of week to your newsagent's subscribers.
Easy peesey eh? Well... Not quite. There's all sorts of obstacles standing between you and a job well done and the only defense you have is a pair of very dodgy brakes and your own fair hands on the handle bars of your bike.
You must make way along the round, carefully avoiding any pedestrians, cars, moggies, drunks, lawnmowers and of course, brick walls and make sure the news hits the street. Each house on a round that is expecting a delivery is marked by a little sign outside their front door. This is pretty convenient, especially as in most American suburbs you fling a paper at their front door and peddle merrily on. Some of the obstructions can be batted out of the way by pitching a rolled up copy of something heavy at them. (Probably the Sunday Times), for which you will score extra points.
You can't have paperboys without some way for them cause a little mischief. You can score points for smashing the windows of people who don't have newspapers from you - a real touch of the Robert Maxwell's here I think, and if you knock the lids off dustbins then the annoyance value of that is worth a few more points. Extra newspapers can be picked up as you go along so that you have a few spare to throw at the odd passer by.
Once at the end of the round you take a short cut through the park and treat yourself to a bit of stunt cycling. after all, which paperboy worth their weight in Daily Mirrors wouldn't practice a few jumps on the way home? You can even increase your score by using any left over papers to throw at the convenient targets. Once through the park your trials for the day are over and there is a breakdown of how you've fared. Cancellations will blink on the map of your round and if there are too many I'm afraid it's on yer bike pal. If it's okay and you've managed to get papers to most of the customers then it's on to the next day's work.
It's all very exciting indeed isn't it! isn't it?
Paperboy was a big hit in it's time but I feel that it is not a game that has weathered well and this iparticular re-Incarnation could have been better placed.
The graphics are adequate, as is the game itself but diagonally scrolling games have had their day since The Eidolon and Rescue on Fractalus showed how to do a 3D effect without turning the game through 45 degrees. Paperboy would be okay today as a budget game so it would seem ideally suited to a budget label. But then there are original budget games like Spooked for the same price that offer much, much better value for your money.
Author: In House
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
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