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Postman Pat - The Atari Times

Postman Pat

Of Cats and Letters...
by Matthias Jaap

August 2, 2001
Postman Pat, Britain's famous postman delivers packages, letters and local gossip in his hometown. Always by his side is his black and white cat. His adventures have already been told e.g. in a TV serial. It is no surprise that a computer game was developed and published in 1989.

In the main game you control Postman Pat driving around in his red van. His first task is to reach the post office and get the packages for today's deliveries. There are no real enemies or threats on the streets only a few bicycles and puddles are on his way. Pat automatically avoids them but may drive into a wall. It is a good idea to slow down if a bicycle or a puddle is approaching you. His van can drive at two speeds. The faster one is only available if you drive forward. At the post office Pat is told to deliver the package to a certain customer. Once you reach the customer you'll be awarded with another task: deliver a message to someone else.

There's also a time limit for our postman which is sometimes displayed at the top of the screen. Driving and finding the houses can take much time so one of the first things you should do is making a map of the village.

The graphics of Postman Pat are horrible and not even near to 16 bit standards. There is a nicely drawn title screen with Postman Pat and his fellows. During the game, 1/4 of the screen is occupied by status displays and an image of Postman Pat & his cat. There is no scrolling and only a few graphic sets. The game switches to a side-view when you enter a house. The graphics are not much better there. Most of the objects on the screen are not animated. Although the graphic are not good, Postman Pat and the other characters are recognizable which is important for fans of Pat.

The sound consists of a good remake of the original Postman Pat tune. However, it may get extremely annoying since it is the only music you'll hear in the game.

Only one option can be tweaked before starting the game: the difficulty. The default setting is "hard" and the only difference between "hard" and "easy" is that you can crash against a wall. There are also three mini-games: "Lijdo", "Snake and Ladder" and "Snap". All of them are pretty simple but may be fun for younger children.

While the game is obviously aimed at younger children there are a few negative points about this game. In the driving sequences, the van feels like Pat has drunk too many pints at the local pub. The van is continuously shaking and is going wild when you drive over a puddle. The reactions of the van are never predictable and you are very lucky if you make it to the post office. If you switch to "easy" you are almost invincible - the only difficulty is the time limit. The time limit is a problem because the game gives you no clues where a person lives. So you drive around the village always looking for buildings you can enter. I doubt that children will have that much patience.
The basic controls of the van are too complex. Driving backwards may be important for a true driving simulation but not for a game targeted at children. You can get used to it but avoiding an approaching bicycle racer is almost impossible.

My overall impression is that this could have been a nice game for kids and all fans of the Atari classic Paperboy. You may spend 5-10 minutes with it but the game is extremely boring, difficult and badly made. The Postman Pat episodes are much more entertaining than this piece of software.

Postman Pat and the people of his town. Granny sure does look suspicious...
"Here's your mail. Now where's my tip?"
"Now, I know Johnny Atari lives around here somewhere. Which road should I take? Eh, just flip a coin."
What this games needs is more dogs. I mean, how can you have a postman game without some dogs chasing him?
Postman Pat
System: Atari-ST
Publisher: Alternative Software
Genre: Driving
Graphics Score: 32%
Sound & Music Score: 50%
Gameplay Score: 41%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 34%

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