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Paperboy - The Atari Times


Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
by Ethan C. Nobles

May 10, 2002
Paperboy is one of those titles that has been around for as long as I can remember. Frankly, I never played Paperboy in the arcade, but I have seen it ported to an absolutely incredible number of home computer systems and game consoles. Indeed, Paperboy was ported to early systems like the Commodore 64 and can even be found for more modern consoles like the Nintendo 64. Fortunately, the very worthy title made it to the Lynx.

From what I understand, Atari had a minor hit when it took Paperboy to the arcades, and this title gives away the game's origins. This is a pure arcade game, requiring quick reflexes, a high tolerance level for aggravation and a temporary suspension of disbelief.

Paperboy takes place in a world where all the houses are on the left side of the street and life is hard for someone delivering the "Daily Sun" every morning. Also, paperboy's seem to have a short temper and are in the habit of plotting revenge against people who refused to subscribe to the newspapers who hired them to deliver the morning rag.

According to the Paperboy manual that came with this 1990 Lynx title, the paperboy was promised a job if he could sign up 10 customers in a new subdivision of the west end of town. After several rude people who live there refused to get a subscription, the paperboy met his quota and was ready to roll. However, the paperboy swore to get even with the rude folks who chased him away when he talked to them about a subscription.

So, the goal here is to deliver papers to the subscribers (a.k.a. "good guys") while making some deliveries to the non-subscribers (a.k.a. "bad guys.) What? Deliver papers to non-subscribers? Yep. The paperboy delivers them all right -- right through their windows. Indeed, the paperboy gets bonus points for breaking the neighbors of the nasty an hateful non-subscribers and points are deducted for breaking the windows of "Daily Sun" customers.

While delivering papers, obstacles such as cars barking out in the road, fighting kids, charging kittens and hot rodders must be avoided. Oddly, the paperboy never gets killed, really -- he just gets knocked down and loses a hat. Once all of the hats are gone, the game ends. Naturally, new hats are earned for point totals throughout the game.

The graphics here are very good. There's a lot of activity on the screen, and the images are sharp and colorful enough so they can be identified quickly. It's hard to overstate how essential that is to a game being played on a small Lynx screen. Indeed, Lynx games which don't produce sharp graphics just don't work. Fortunately, the programmers responsible for this great title knew the Lynx well and understood what has to be done to produce a solid title for the machine.

The animation is solid, too. The paperboy actually looks like he's peddling a bicycle, the papers tumble when thrown and the fighting kids that pop up from time to time and must be avoided are always good for a taught. The atmosphere created by the graphics and animation is very cartoonish.

The controls are good, too. The joypad steers the bike and is also used for speed control. Unfortunately, the brakes never let the player completely stop the bicycle. That would be a handy touch when the player is going across busy streets as it's often very difficult to avoid being run down by a speeding car. That just adds to the challenge of the game, of course. The controls are responsible. Also, collision detection is quite good on this, even though I've often crashed when I thought I missed an object. That doesn't happen too frequently, however.

The sound, too, is another rock solid feature of the game. A mildly-catchy little ditty plays throughout the game while car horns warn of approaching traffic, the sound of glass breaking was well done and everything just oozes that 1980s "arcade game environment."

While I've mentioned the main elements of the game, I should pay some attention to the obstacle course that comes after the route is completed. The goal there is to hit targets with newspapers for points and dodge obstacles. If the player completes the course in the allotted amount of time, he's rewarded with some decent bonus points and a cheering crowd of admirers.

The only thing that bugs me about this game is that the paperboy can only carry 10 newspapers at once. More can be picked up along the course as, for some reason, someone left piles of newspapers here and there. I'm very bad about running out of papers pretty quickly as I just love to break the house windows of the villainous non-subscribers. So, I'm often left with no newspapers when it's time to throw one in the mailbox or porch of a subscribers. Oh, well. Those are the breaks, I suppose.

In the final analysis, this is a very good game for the Lynx. It's fun as all get out and not too involved to detract from its enjoyment on a portable system. While this isn't likely to be the favorite title title in your collection, it's certainly a great diversion between rounds of Shanghai, Chip's Challenge or whatever your favorite game for the Lynx happens to be.

Is this the world's first "Job-Simulator?"
Why do the subscribers have such large windows near their boxes?
Smash those windows of the non-subscribers!
As an additional test, see if you can make it through the obstacle course.
System: Lynx
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 85%
Sound & Music Score: 85%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 90%

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