Video Game Thoughts: Paperboy

Paperboy was a 1985 arcade game by Atari Games that I played on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I got this game at a garage sale pretty cheap. I think they were only charging $2 per game. We had rented it before, so I knew how it played. Once I had the game for myself though, I was able to progress a lot further. I don’t know how long the game was, but I was never able to beat it. I got to a certain point and just couldn’t progress. It was either too fast or there were too many hazards to avoid. Paperboy may be one of the first simulation games I played. I had a lot of fun with Paperboy, but it got boring because I couldn’t get any further. I don’t know if it had infinite levels or had a definite ending. I think it didn’t end. Players would just play for as high a score as they could get, with no end to the game.

Since it had been in the arcades, Paperboy was one of the few games my mom knew about. She had hung out at the arcades a few times as a teenager. It was always nice to be able to talk to my mom about a game. She pretty much had no interest in them. No one at home was interested. I always had to find friends at school to talk with about games. My mom was no better at playing Paperboy though. The game was probably hard because it was made to be an arcade game. I played it on a home console, but it was designed to extract as many quarters as possible from players’ pockets. The way to do that was to make the game hard, forcing players to have to pay to continue.

This was before game companies modified their games for different platforms. These days, an arcade game will be changed for home consoles to better fit what people expect from a game at home. Back then, however, the Nintendo games were all pretty hard. It was only a few years removed from the arcade craze. Game designers were still making the games they knew — hard arcade games — even though it was for a home console.


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