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Elite Systems Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Paperboy was one of the licensing deals, the game was and is, a cult hit in the arcades and the first home computer versions were eagerly awaited. Now this tribute to teenage free enterprise in mid-America has arrived on the Spectrum from Elite and guess what? it's not bad at all.

When you come to think about it, there really isn't anything very special about the gameplay in Paperboy. The game idea is nifty enough, but in the end you aim copies of the paper (which appears to be called the Sun) at letterboxes and swerve your bicycle left and right to avoid obstacles, it could as easily be laser beams, enemy spaceships and battle cruisers. What made the arcade game so special was the quality of the graphics and the great soundtrack, well, loud soundtrack anyway. I had my doubts about how the special qualities of the original would translate to the Spectrum but actually I think Elite has produced its best conversion yet.

The plot of the arcade game has been retained in its entirety - the street designs seem to be almost the same. The idea is to steer your bike along the twisting pavement in front of a row of timber style houses (where the everyday folks live in the American midwest). You have essentially two delivery objectives - get the paper into the letter box of those people who have ordered it (as indicated by a signpost in front of their house), and use the papers as projectiles to smash the windows of those who haven't yet decided to subscribe. I have been asked to stressed at this point that EMAP Central Control was never engaged in such practices to sell any computer magazines or other publications, and anyway we were all somewhere else at the time.

The game could so easily have been one of those flickery sprite jobs, where the garishness of the constantly changing colours is only excelled by the jerkiness of the scrolling. However the programming on Paperboy is way beyond that - the scrolling of the street is very smooth indeed and as for colour clash well, the whole this is in two colours.

The graphics are nicely detailed, if blue. I particularly liked the bonus assault course at the end of the run and the go-cart which drives across your path.

Winning in the game is a matter of combining precision paper throwing with avoidance of casual bystanders, cars, giant tyres - the usual stuff. As a Spectrum conversion, the game inevitably lacks some of what made the original great (like sound) nevertheless I don't think those who buy this on the strength of the original will feel cheated - it's as good a conversion as could reasonably be expected.

Label: Elite
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor


Excellent conversion. Inevitable hardware restrictions make the game less 'special' but good fun.


Screenshot Text

A suburban street. Coming up a house needing a paper. Watch out for traffic!

A full bag of papers. The end of the first street.

Watch out for the go kart. Smash windows of non-subscribers.