Here’s a famous title from Atari Games, an arcade classic from 1985. It enjoyed ports to the consoles of the day from 1986. Let’s deliver some newspapers!
The History of Paperboy (the video game)
Right, so the premise is simple. You’re a paperboy. And you have to go out there and deliver the newspapers to your local community.
Just the one newspaper—The Daily Sun. Seems your neighbourhood is full of tabloid reading philistines, kid!
As the player, you deliver them in unconventional fashion—hurling the paper across time and space to demolish local resident’s hard-earned properties.
The main fun to it is smashing people’s windows. A well timed throw blasts through a window pane, resulting in much anarchic satisfaction.
Anyway, the arcade version was a hit. So console ports began, including a shift over to the Nintendo Entertainment System.
And that led to a significant drop in the graphical performance. Now defunct US developer Tengen Inc. handled this dodgy looking thing.
It also led to some fancy gaming advertising. Gaming adverts have always been a bit rubbish over the years.
Even now, especially with AAA big budget titles. Most developers create a trailer or some such that features no gaming footage. Just loads of cut-scenes. It baffles us how this generates so much hype.
Anyway, “they” were at it in the 1980s, too. This was the Paperboy advert in America. Tip? Avoid showing shoddy NES graphics until the final moment.
To be clear, Paperboy is a fun game. It kind of has iconic retro gaming status—if you were a gamer in the ’80s or ’90s you’ll know the thing.
And the main visceral memory of it will be from those times your smashed many windows. Which was thrill of the seat stuff as kids.
So no matter how scaled back the NES version was, the title was still fun to play. However, the NES version was NOTHING compared to what’s ahead.
Intent on milking the game for all its financial worth, a port for the Game Boy was commissioned. And, boy, did Tengen scale it back further still.
We can’t say we’ve played the Game Boy one—nor do we want to, based off that. It looks like a kind of, “That’ll do, let’s release it to rake in the cash!” Type deal.
However, Paperboy’s spread was unstoppable—when you have a hit game, you need it to be everywhere, you see.
It also turned up on the BBC Micro in a vomit yellow type of colour. The microcomputer was a project between Acorn Computers and the BBC Computer Literacy Project.
Paperboy has come and gone a bit over the years. The sequel Paperboy 2 didn’t advance the formula much.
And it kind of petered out a bit as the initial awe of the game’s mechanics faded. But that didn’t stop attempts at a revival in the late 1990s.
Later Versions of Paperboy
The series was revived with a mediocre Nintendo 64 version in 1999, dismally failing to turn the experience into a 3D world.
Even the US TV advert looks a little… weird.
Since then, the concept is consigned to the retro gaming world. And rightfully so, it’s had its moment.
The original is now available on your iPhone and Xbox 360. Plus, for free online.
However, nothing is stopping you from getting a proper paperboy delivery job, you know? Or paper girl.
We guess if there is a reboot, it should be Papergirl. And she goes around shooting laser beams from her eyeballs and such stuff. Yeah.