In 1985, Atari Games released Paperboy in the arcade. The simple but addicting task of delivering the daily paper on a street full of danger became an instant hit and resulted in Paperboy being one of the most ported games in the 1980s. Today, we’ll be slinging papers in the Game Boy version that was released in 1990. Pick up that stack of papers, and get rolling into this Paperboy review!
You play as a young boy who just wants to make it through one week of delivering “The Daily Sun” to your neighbors and friends on the street. This street, however, is no ordinary road. Unlucky for our brave paperboy, he’ll ride his bike past twisters, biting dogs, angry women with rolling pins, and even Death himself stands on the corner waiting for our young paperboy to ride by. The paperboy needs to make it through the week without losing all of the paper subscriptions or else he makes the front page for being fired. If you make it through the seven days, the newspaper will proclaim the local paperboy is a hero.
Also, do you see the cover of Paperboy? This little boy has gray hair from all the stress he encounters during his route! Now onto the gameplay portion of this Paperboy review!
The object of Paperboy is to deliver the paper for a full week to the newspaper’s subscribers. These houses will have an open mailbox by the sidewalk or next to their front door. Throwing the newspaper into the mailboxes or against the front door will result in keeping the subscriber as a customer. If you fail to throw the paper in these target areas or throw it through the window they will cancel their subscription. If you make a perfect run and deliver to all the customer you’ll pick up new customers. You’ll need to keep at least one subscriber throughout the week or else it’s game over.
Delivering newspapers seems simple but it’s far from it. There are stationary objects that you’ll have to avoid like lamps, tombstones, doghouses, plants and my biggest enemy during my Paperboy review, storm drains. Aside from the stationary objects, you’ll come across an interesting variety of moving objects that will make you crash if you hit them. There are dogs, runaway Hoola hoops, skateboarders, angry women with rolling pins, rogue lawnmowers, bikers, a man pumping air and even a strange lad trying to perform fellatio on himself. Don’t even think about veering off into the street as oncoming cars will hit you or storm drains will force you to crash. You’re better off on the sidewalk. The strangest objects in the games are twisters and Death himself, who will wait for the Paperboy on the corner. One-touch from him, and well you know how it goes.
Our paperboy has a limited number of papers he can throw. You can throw papers to deliver, sabotage non-subscriber’s houses for bonus points and defend yourself. If something is chasing you, you can hit it with a paper to make it stop. You’ll need to replenish your stash of papers by picking up a few stacks that are scattered around the street.
When you reach the end of the street, you’ll cross into the “training course” which is a fun zone filled with ramps over walls and water and targets for the paperboy to hit for bonus points. If you make it through the training course you’ll cross a finish line where you will be greeted by cheering fans. It’s a nice little bonus stage that I enjoyed during my Paperboy review.
Like most arcade games, Paperboy is not only about surviving but scoring points. You want to make it through the seven days without crashing multiple times but you also want to score points by trashing houses, delivering papers and making it through the training course.
The music is entrenched in my brain, it’s such a simple hook but it’s catchy and cheery making the world of Paperboy seem innocent with all the danger lurking down the block. I can’t speak for the colorful graphics, I know the NES version had them, but my Paperboy review was for the Game Boy and it’s just black and white. It doesn’t take away from the gameplay and it doesn’t make the upcoming danger hard to see.
Paperboy is a great arcade game and there’s a two-player option for head-to-head competition. Like most arcade games, it’s very short. If you want a simple game to burn an hour in the car, Paperboy is great but if you want a game that draws you into a story and has in-depth game mechanics, look elsewhere.
I was first introduced to Paperboy when I was a very young child in the mid-90s. I had a friend who’s parents worked at the hospital with my dad and we’d end up being babysat together often at each other’s houses. He had a Nintendo and the game Paperboy. We were pretty young and Paperboy was easy enough for us to grasp and understand what the mission was. There was no reading or elaborate game controls, just peddle the bike and throw papers while avoiding danger.
I’m sure I talked about Paperboy to my parents because soon enough they bought me it for my Game Boy Pocket. I loved it so much and played it all the time. The music is vividly burned into my memory and I can hum it whenever I please. I spent many hours playing Paperboy in car rides.
Fast-forward to a few years after college when I found my Game Boy Pocket in storage along with a few games like Paperboy. I played it again, and this time had my wife (girlfriend at the time) play it too. She too had it for her Game Boy growing up. We spent a few nights playing it together and reminiscing about how good we used to be at it. It was nice to pay homage to a video game from my childhood when I finished my Paperboy review.
Paperboy Review Score:
I’m learning that some of my favorite video games have the simplest of concepts. Overcooked, Harvest Moon, Paperboy all take simple jobs and turn them into video game gold. If only these jobs worked like their games in real life! Paperboy is a classic, I’m surprised there’s not a remake of it today with the explosion of retro classics coming back.
Paperboy scores a 7.9 out of 10.
What would you write in your Paperboy review? What system did you first play Paperboy on? Have you made it through all seven days? Which object always knocked you down? Let me know your thoughts and memories, I’d love to read them!
If you want to own Paperboy you can purchase a preowned copy of it for the Game Boy on eBay for between $4-$8.