Paperboy! What a nostalgic flashback to my childhood. Being born just as the era of arcades was coming to a close, I didn’t get to experience the joy of cabinet-enclosed, joystick-controlled games all that often. Every now and then in my younger years I’d visit the local Round Table Pizza and play on their decrepit old PAC-MAN / Asteroids knockoffs, and I particularly remember Paperboy for how damn difficult it was. But now that I’m a big kid, I think I can handle this game. Maybe.
Here is my session report of Paperboy:
Today’s Monday, and I start my first day as the neighborhood paperboy. Either the town I’m servicing is tiny, or my boss thinks very low of me, because my route is only two blocks of one side of a street. I won’t complain too much. I have a job to do, and dosh to earn.
It’s my first day, and I’m pretty nervous. The bike’s a little hard to control, and I’m swerving a little as I approach my first house. Whew, here goes nothing. I toss a newspaper off to the left.
I hear the high-pitched sound of broken glass. Crap. Sorry customer #1.
I bike on to the next house. Another customer. I toss out another newspaper. My virtual self yells out, “Yes!”. I nailed it! This isn’t so bad.
On to the next house. This one’s grey, with a black roof and red windows. A grey lion and snake statue sit on opposite sides of the house’s walkway to the front door, perched intimidatingly. Judging from the “GET LOST” message in their welcome mat, I imagine they don’t want a copy of The Daily Sun. Too bad, I toss one to them anyways.
Whoops, hit another window. But hey, I get points for breaking that one! I soon figure out that the game rewards me for vandalizing the non-subscribing houses, like any respectable newspaper business should. As I pass by another house, I shoot out another newspaper and end up nailing the guy breakdancing out front. The game awards me points for that. Interesting.
Halfway through my route I’ve given up on throwing my newspaper issues efficently, and start spamming the newspaper throw button every time I pass a house. So I break a few windows, maybe I hit the kids on the tricycles one or more times, I’m doing my job, right?
Now I’m flying down the street, blasting rolls of The Daily Sun at pedestrians’ faces, not having a care in the world until I realize I’m running right into the middle of an intersection. And there’s cars coming!
Ouch. The driver says to me in a garbled vocoder voice, “Not again…”. Apparently head on collisions with bicyclists is a common occurrence around here. I see how I got my paperboy job so quickly.
I pull myself and my compound fractured femur together and get back on my bike. No more fooling around. I’ve got a route to finish.
I knock out a few more windows, land more newspaper issues on doorsteps, and ride my way to the end. My job is complete. Or is it?
The suburban neighborhood suddenly cuts off as I ride into what appears to be a military-meets-postal training course. Like a trigger-happy cowboy in an uproarious saloon, I fire away Daily Suns at the targets, and leap across a water canal to the second half of the grounds. This ain’t no ordinary delivery route.
As I ride my bike across the yellow finish line at the end, a large and enthusiastic crowd cheers at my arrival. I wink at the girl flashing the “I Love U Paper Boy” sign. What a crazy first day at work.
Playing Paperboy on an emulator reminded me a lot of my earlier days when I used to spend hours playing Flash games on sites like Miniclip.com, Addicting Games, Albino Blacksheep, Newgrounds, etc. The quality and depth of those games, the graphics, the chip-tuney sounds and music, all of those characteristics remind me a lot of Paperboy and others on the Internet Arcade site. In a way, my “arcade days” were the years of my life I wasted away playing those Flash games.
But on topic of playing through emulation versus on the native hardware, while the sounds and sights of Paperboy brought back some memories, the experience felt largely new. I think this is due to the totally differing controller input––the original Paperboy forced you to direct input with a physical imitation of actual bike handles (see image below), as opposed to the semi-wacky keyboard controls I used today. Being able to play without having to be conscious of my coin quantity is great plus.
While Paperboy and other arcade games were once just coin-operated entertainment machines, they’ve now been preserved at the Internet Arcade Archive and are playable for years to come, as little trinkets from the past. It’s fun to look back and reflect on what people thought at the time were marvels in game technology. Fascinatingly enough, this game appears to have been developed with only 9 people.
I’m sure they never would have thought their game would appear in an Internet archive at some point in the future. But now, they’re immortalized in a piece of game history, their life work running on an emulator on the web. Ride on, Paperboy team.