Paperboy in Review – An Awkward Ride Down Memory Lane

Paperboy was a huge arcade game back in the 1980s, and as with many retro arcade games – it’s attempting to bring some old school nostalgia as an alternative to the more stylized and ‘modern’ offerings on the App Store. But in the age of new media, the idea of an iDevice Paperboy is starting to become more ‘quaint’ and nostalgic.

Ideally, retro games aim to tap into nostalgia among the older ex- or current gamers who are more than willing to fork over some cash for some feel good reminiscing and out of the buzz a comeback game generates, recruit a new generation of players to the fold.

The objective of Paperboy is simple – deliver newspapers down a fixed route doing as little damage to your customers’ houses whilst avoiding any myriad of collisions. Crash into objects and people too many times and it’s game over. Grab extra bundles of newspapers along the way, and when playing Casual mode, collect baseball cards to win trophies and special bonuses for extra life. Survive the route and you get to score bonus points through the training course.

Paperboy doesn’t skimp on options by which one can enjoy the game; it offers a variety of game modes, controls and challenges.

The first thing I noticed about Paperboy is the slow loading time. It’s quite unreasonable to wait for about 30-45 seconds for the main game to load – and it’s particularly annoying when you have to wait each time you start over after losing a game. Games with far more complex graphics and processes take less time to load so I don’t understand what Paperboy is waiting for.

As for the graphics, I don’t really see the difference between the classic or 3D view. Neither are great, and the 3D view has an unfinished, rough quality to it – it feels like an earlier, beta build. The animation is just as awkward, especially when you crash into a moving or stationary object. There is an immediate replay video of what had transpired before the crash which is neither helpful nor particularly relevant. There should be an option to turn it off or remove it as a feature of the game entirely.

The game sounds and effects are adequate enough, though the music can be a bit grating on the nerves after a while. The sounds aren’t as crisp as they should be, and some tend to sound muffled, such as the barking dog that starts chasing you.

How are the controls? There are 3 different controls schemes you can choose from: full D-pad controls, the D-pad with slider, and D-pad with tilt controls. Having tried all three, none really promise a smooth, seamless experience and the lack of full accelerometer-based controls is an unusual decision. Of the three, I found the full D-pad with slider the most comfortable one to work with.

I like some of the details, though – the macabre houses with the occasional spooks, the wandering drunk, the crazy racecar drivers and the game’s sly overall humour. To be fair, the game does its best to capture the charm and appeal of the original Paperboy, and can be enjoyable. Still, Paperboy falls short of providing the kind of gaming experience fans and newcomers expect.

Nostalgia will not justify such a steep price tag for a game that needs major updates to improve its overall look, feel and reliability. As it is now, Paperboy isn’t the high quality game that its retro roots deserve.

App Summary
Title: Paperboy Developer: Elite Systems Ltd.
Reviewed Ver: 0.9! Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $4.99 App Size: 36.4 MB
  • overall, an acceptable gaming experience
  • adequate music and sound effects
  • poor quality graphics
  • awkward controls
  • slow loading time
  • no option to turn off replay video
  • low production value does not justify high price tag


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