"EXTRA: Paperboy mauled by rampaging moose!"
Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh (but it is a direct quote from the game).
Actually, Paperboy for the N64 has a few things going for it. Not plot maybe...
As near as I can tell, you are a mild mannered paperboy (or girl, if you so
choose) busily trying to satisfy your customers and build up
readership for your paper. As you do, you are given access to more and
more neighborhoods. Each level also has a bonus level you can access by finding the 3 bonus coins. More about that later.
Back to the *cough* plot... Along the way, you encounter your arch-nemesis,
Dr. Tesla. But, thwart his plans a couple of times and he decides it's not worth
his time to control the press and everything settles back down for a while.
At least until the aliens invade, that is. Oh well - the original Paperboy
wasn't going to win plot awards, either.
There are three levels of play; Easy Street, Middle Road, and Hard Way. Middle
Road and Hard Way are largely the same, although Hard Way is (obviously) more
difficult. Easy Street, however, is at once less difficult and more frustrating.
Although it is nearly impossible to NOT make it through a level, the player
is set on a pre-determined course from which they are not allowed to deviate.
If you miss a delivery, you'll just have to hope that there's enough time left
to do a second pass at your route. I think the number of places you have to
deliver to is fair commentary on the fact that these days people who deliver
papers are required to drive, eh?
The graphics and control system are kind of interesting, sort of Yoshi's
Story meets the first-person shooter. Everything is big and brightly colored
for those who enjoy that sort of thing (well, except when you're delivering
papers to the undead), and the rendering looks okay except in the still shots.
Unfortunately, there is nothing worth speaking of in the way of view options
- zoomed mode, un-zoomed mode, and little difference between them. And, as is
not uncommon in N64 3D games, you can lose sight of your character fairly easily
if you're not careful.
To aid you in your deliveries, there is a tracking arrow which shows you where
your papers will be flung. This is handy, not only to get the papers on the
porches or in the boxes, but also to nail as many people and bits of scenery
as possible. This is how you find the coins which allow you to compete for medals
in the bonus rounds. Some of these are fun and some are vaguely amusing. My
personal favorite is Dr. Tesla's Brain Hunt. Following the bouncing brains is
definitely worth a few chuckles.
In addition, there is also a system for jumping and doing stunts. It's a
handy way to get bonus points and some extra seconds on the timer,
assuming you're successful. If you can't manage to land on your wheels,
you get nothing, no matter how impressive your mid-air antics were.
Bouncing off of the scenery can also be good for points.
You can also get special items which allow you to jump higher, pedal
faster, turn into a monster, etc. They're one-shot, mostly instantaneous
usage items, but you can only carry one at a time and once you end a round,
they go away.
The happy, peppy soundtrack is bearable for an hour or so, after which I really
start wishing that the game would save my sound preferences when I shut it off.
However, the sound effects (breaking stuff, greetings, warnings, observations
on how painful it is to be hit by a newspaper, etc.) are well done. Especially
enjoyable is the sound of the rampaging moose, but I felt that the bouncing
brains ought to make SOME sound.
Overall, it sounds like a reasonably decent game. However, aside from some
of the things that happen when you whack something with a paper and the gratuitous
newspaper headlines at the beginning of a round, it just isn't really all that
fun. Easy Street suffers from lack of user control and limits the levels you
can play. Kinda seemed like a demo version of the full game. Hard Way is a bit
over the top difficulty-wise. Middle Road, while neither limited or unrealistically
difficult, just becomes a chore to play after a while. I prefer something that,
while challenging, remains fun and avoids side trips to frustration.
I picked this title up because I had some fond memories of the original. Although
it's an interesting novelty, it's hardly satisfying. While definitely something
to rent or borrow from a friend, Paperboy isn't necessarily something
you'd want to grace your gaming collection.