There aren’t many videogames that are based on normal everyday jobs, unless you happen to be a space marine of course. Â One of the few is was Atari’s 1984 hit Paperboy, where unsurprisingly it was your task to deliver newspapers to houses.
The game had a clean fresh look that distinguished it from many other arcade games of the time, featuring a forced isometric 3D viewpoint with the game scrolling diagonally as you pedalled your bike along the road.
Your job was to deliver copies of The Daily Sun to houses by throwing them to land in mailboxes or at the front door. Â The houses you had to deliver to were always drawn in bright colours, whilst the non-subscribers were very dark in colour, so it was easy to know which houses to deliver to, and which to try and vandalise my throwing papers at windows or garden ornaments. Â After reaching the end of the road you entered a BMX track where additional points could be earned by jumping gaps and throwing newspapers at targets.
There were many obstacles to avoid, such as cars, bicycles, men fighting and even breakdancers, although throwing a newspaper at them would also help. Â Hitting one would lose a life. Â Smashing the windows of a subscribers house or failing to deliver them a newspaper also counted against you, as they would stop subscribing to the paper. Â Lose all your lives or subscribers and it was game over, which came in the form of a fake newspaper with various comical headlines.
Another unique point for the game was the novel control method. Â Instead of a joystick you had a pair of handlebars which you turned left and right to steer, and pushed forward to pedal faster. Â Pressing a button on the handlebars launched a newspaper. Â It was a surprisingly solid control system, and a lot of fun.
The game has been ported to many different systems over the years, with 8-bit home computer versions appearing in 1986, and more recently ports to the GameBoy Color in 1999 and the Nintendo 64 in 2000. Â There was also a home computer only sequel to the game, but it was universally shunned as being a terrible game, a real shame considering how good the original was.