N64 Connoisseur

We Try Not To Talk About Paperboy on N64

Last week, Alex revealed that Paperboy on the NES was actually a port of a far superior version of the classic game.  Did you know that that the Nintendo 64 had a 3D version of Paperboy that made the NES version look like a full HD remake? While the N64 is responsible for many glorious gems of games, this was not among them. This was a half finished game that looked like it was a quarter finished. This game is so bad, it does not even have a page in the Book of Knowledge. It simply has a one line mention in the main Paperboy article. Hold your noses, we are going to take a deeper dive into this pile of garbage.

Paperboy (N64) Screenshot

This bike is held together by mediocrity.

Paperboy on the N64 had a Controller Pak only save system. This was usually done to save space on the cartridge for more game. In this case I can only imagine that it was done so the developers could save time and get back to their game development courses at the local learning annex early. A 3D Paperboy in itself is a great idea, and one that should be able to be executed easily. The game mechanics are already there, you just have to design a 3D world around them. Instead, what we wound up with is character design that looks like it was hand drawn by a pre-school student who was riding in the back of a dune buggy over a particularly bumpy section of desert. The bicycle wheels do not even have spokes. The houses look bad, the obstacles look bad, and the textures are awful. The sound could have easily been outdone by anything on the SNES, very unimpressive and flat.

Paperboy (N64) Screenshot

I guess there is another paperboy right behind him trying to hit the same mailbox.

All of that though is secondary if the game plays well and is fun, right? Well it is Paperboy, I’m sure it plays well. Nope. The bicycle handles terribly, aiming the newspapers is nothing short of a chore, and for a game on the N64, the one with the four controller ports, it had no multiplayer. Imagine a battle mode with four people trying to knock each other off of their bikes with newspapers, all the while you and your friends making lame newspaper jokes at each other. We couldn’t have that here because that would be fun and fun is the thing this game falls desperately short of.  If you played the game on Easy, you could not alter the path of your bike and you had several levels you could not play instead of just having those levels with an easier difficulty. That meant if you just wanted to play easy to get a feel for the game, you could look forward to repeating everything you just did if you wanted to experience everything.  I will give Paperboy this, though, it had boss battles which was a great idea. However this was also executed poorly. Newspapers do not hurt the bosses because they are newspapers so the boss fight would consist of you driving circles around the boss hitting the very obvious thing that could hurt the boss with a newspaper instead. The boss couldn’t really hurt you, just slow you down. You would have to defeat the boss within a time limit.

This isn’t the first time something I liked in my childhood was demolished later on (right, Michael Bay?) but the big disappointment here was the unrealized potential. A 3D Paperboy is a great idea, but one that was done this way with the sole intention of making a quick dollar off of a recognizable name is embarrassing to anyone who had their name on it. Hope is not lost though that we will one day see a proper tribute to this timeless game, we just won’t see it on the N64. Join me back here in 2 weeks when I write words in the hopes that you will read them.