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Video Game / Paperboy

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"You may not like the news, but you have to admire the person who delivers it. Paperboy!"

A video game series where you play as a paperboy (or papergirl, in some games) who delivers newspapers to a local neighborhood for the Daily Sun ("The World's most throwable newspaper").

The first game in the series was an arcade conversion kit by Atari. The player is the titular paperboy, riding his bicycle in an isometric scrolling view as he delivers newspapers to subscribers' homes. Unfortunately, in this neighborhood, everything is trying to kill you, and the slightest contact with any obstacle will cost you a life. Fortunately, the paperboy can retaliate by throwing newspapers at obstacles and rowdy neighbors — but breaking a subscriber's property will make them stop subscribing. The result is a hilarious Nintendo Hard game that is also effectively a Rail Shooter, even if it doesn't look much like one.

This was followed by a Nintendo 64 game called Paperboy 64. It was even adapted into an episode of Captain N: The Game Master.

2021 saw a comic book adaptation from DC Comicsnote , pairing Paperboy up with fellow arcade game Spy Hunter as, well, SpyHunter/Paperboy, with Larry Hama on writing details.

Paperboy provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The papergirl can be this in Paperboy 2 and Paperboy 64.
  • Adaptational Badass: In Paperboy 64, your character is a lot more extreme. They even destroy an alien spaceship at the end of the game just by throwing a newspaper at it.
  • Alien Invasion: In Paperboy 64, the last several levels deal with one.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The aliens in Paperboy 64 do not come in peace.
  • Almighty Janitor: A mere paperboy (or papergirl in some cases) who has to deal with many things, including the Grim Reaper.
  • Angry Guard Dog:
    • Break the window of a house where a dog lives, and he'll start barking furiously and chase after you.
    • In a similar vein, there may be a man outside one of the houses, and if you break a window, he'll start chasing after you in anger.
  • Announcer Chatter: The game has an announcer, and the Paperboy himself will also comment on his own successes and failures.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: It is impossible to lose by losing all your customers on Easy Street—if you run out, another one will just subscribe.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Bears appear as enemies in Paperboy 64.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Sasquatches are enemies in Paperboy 64.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: Used as filler text in the newspaper screens.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Both the Paperboy and the announcer sometimes make comments aimed directly at the player.
  • Cats Are Mean: They're just as bad as the dogs.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: The kid is insanely strong for his age, being able to throw newspapers hard enough to break windows, damage brick buildings, and knock over gravestones (though the latter may just be decorations).
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Subscribers' homes are bright and colorful, while non-subscribers' homes are ominous and dark.
  • Convenient Color Change: Speaking of the above, the homeowners sure repaint their houses fast!
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Zigzagged in the Transylvania levels of Paperboy 64. The levels are filled with monsters. Many of them are friendly monsters who just want their newspapers. Others however are enemies.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The title character when he gets killed.
    (run over by a Hearse) "Looking for a passenger?"
  • Distaff Counterpart: Papergirl.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: To get the Golden Ending, you have to survive all seven days of the work week while still having at least one customer. What happens? You're treated to a final headline: CONGRATULATIONS PAPERBOY! with the Paperboy holding up a Golden Trophy instead of a newspaper. The smaller bylines add "New Hero Idolized by Young and Old," "Considers Invitation to the White House," and "He's Totally Awesome!"
    • Paperboy 2 takes it up a few notches: Survive a week's deliveries each on "Easy Street," "Middle Road" AND "Hard Way" and the final Sunday Headline is "PAPERBOY WINS BIG!" The picture is of the Paperboy receiving the Golden Trophy from the Mayor and his secretary while the Satisfied Policeman is with them and two others.
  • Enemies with Death: The Grim Reaper appears as an enemy.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Or at least trying to make you crash. Cars pulling in and out of driveways, kids on tricycles, construction workers, small RC cars, cats that jump out in front of you at the last second...
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: ...kinda.
  • Fan Film: Paperboy 3: The Hard Way, a Roaring Rampage of Revenge story presented in the style of a B-movie/grindhouse trailer.
  • Flawless Victory: Deliver the papers perfectly to ALL your paying subscribers, and you're entitled to DOUBLE VALUE for each when determining "Subscriber" bonus in the original game.
    • Paperboy 2 gives you an extra life if you deliver to all your customers on a day AND did not have anyone cancel their subscription earlier (otherwise you get a customer to resubscribe for a perfect day of deliveries).
  • Game Over:
    • Lose all your lives and the front-page story on the next newspaper is "Paperboy Calls It Quits!", with accompanying articles bearing similarly-themed headlines ("Accused of negligence, vandalism", "Daily Sun now hiring").
    • Lose all your subscribers and you get the same thing, albeit with the headline "Paperboy Fired!"
  • General Gaming Gamepads: Specialized; the original arcade game used an analog controller shaped like bicycle handlebars that was like an odd mix of steering wheel and flight stick, except that tilting the handles adjusted speed instead of elevation.
  • The Grim Reaper: Funeral homes seem to be his favorite hangout.
  • Haunted House: They are amongst the houses you have to make deliveries to in the second game.
  • Harmless Freezing: In Paperboy 64, the aliens have freeze rays that cause this.
  • "Have a Nice Day" Smile: Some of the houses have these painted on them. Hit one with a paper, and it changes to a frown.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: "Easy Street", "Middle Road", and "Hard Way".
  • Ill-Fated Flowerbed: You can ride over flowerbeds, destroying them. If you do this to your subscribers however, they will unsubscribe.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: In the Transylvania levels of Paperboy 64, there are potions that will temporarily turn you into a monster, making you invincible and increasing your speed.
  • Isometric Projection
  • Kid Hero: He's not much of a hero in the original, as he's just delivering newspapers (and he can vandalize homes), but the second game gives him the potential to stop baby carriages and robbers. Paperboy 64 ups this by having him save the world from aliens.
  • Mailman vs. Dog: Dogs are enemies.
  • Minus World: There is a Good Bad Bug in the version 1 ROM of the coin-op game. After playing the training/obstacle course, exiting at the exact right edge of the fence instead of across the finish line, starts an inverse video rerun of the training course, with insane point values. While a typical high score for the entire game might be 60,000, a few plays on the inverse training course alone can rack up over a billion points. Here's a video.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Delivering newspapers. It managed to become one of the video game classics.
  • Nintendo Hard: There are a lot of obstacles you have to dodge, it's hard to line up your shots, and if you go too slow, bees appear and attack you.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: One house owner paints himself white, stands among the tombstones and fountains, and then runs at you. He's a little too white, which also makes this character a Conspicuously Light Patch.
  • No Name Given: The kid has no name.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Lose all your subscribers and it's Game Over, regardless of your lives (in which case the newspaper headline is "Paperboy Fired!" instead of "Paperboy Calls It Quits!").
  • Older Than the NES: Almost, but not quite. The original arcade version was developed and released by Atari in 1984, one year after the Japanese debut of the Famicom, but one year before the North American debut of the NES. The NES version was one of the first NES games developed in the United States (with only a few of Tengen's games preceding it) and coincidentally, the Sega Master System version represented the first SMS game developed in the United Kingdom.
  • One-Word Title
  • Pet the Dog: Although you mostly wreak havoc with your thrown papers, you can occasionally do some good, such as foiling a break-in by knocking out the perp.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Combined with Apathetic Citizens and Played for Laughs. "Mysterious Vandalism Baffles Police, Residents." This headline refers to the vandalism committed with your paperboy's newspapers, at the time of your paperboy's deliveries, in front of dozens of witnesses in broad daylight.
    • Paperboy 2 plays with this, though if the thrown paper stops a runaway baby carriage or knocks out a thief/burglar or graffiti sprayer, the next headlines are "Boy Stops Breakaway Baby!", "Hero Paperboy Stops Thief!", or "Graffiti Guy a Goner!" We see a grateful policeman pulling the Paperboy to the side for the front-page picture and some candy (as he'd been helped by the Paperboy). One other thing the Paperboy could run across is a suspect fleeing a cop, and the Paperboy can throw the paper to stun the suspect enough to be captured.
  • Rail Shooter: If launching newspapers qualifies as shooting.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: It actually is possible to break windows with thrown newspaper rolls in real life, though the fact that in this game a child is strong enough to do it is rather abnormal.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Defacing the homes of non-subscribers earns you points. Doing the same to your customers makes them cancel their subscription.
  • Rolling Pin of Doom: A woman chases you with one of these. Oddly, she's a subscriber and she will do this even if you do nothing to provoke her.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Bees will start chasing you (like Demonic Spiders) if you travel too slowly.
  • Shame If Something Happened: More like Shame If More Things Happened; non-subscribers will become subscribers, but only if you do enough damage to their homes.
  • Sheet of Glass: In the second game.
  • Shout-Out: In the original arcade version, one of the comments the Paperboy makes when he throws a paper in a mailbox is, "Now you have a friend in the paper business." This references American jewelry retailer The Shane Company, whose commercial slogan is "Now you have a friend in the diamond business." Also, there is a street sign on Middle Way that shows Pac-Man crossed out by a red "No" symbol.
  • Stalked by the Bell: If you ride too slowly along your paper route, a swarm of killer bees starts chasing you. (These bees later reappeared in the skateboarding video game 720, accompanied by the ominous mandate "SKATE OR DIE!")
  • Suddenly-Harmful Harmless Object: Some house owners will remain part of the background until you damage their home, at which point they chase you.
  • Symbol Swearing: "%#@*!" if you collide with a stationary level hazard (like a house sign or storm drain).note 
  • This Loser Is You: Both Game Over screens.
    "Accused of negligence, vandalism"
    "Daily Sun subscription rate plummets"
    "'He was a real loser!'"
    "'Worst ever!' claim irate customers"
    "Daily Sun now hiring"
    • And that's just the original arcade version.
  • Totally Radical: If one of the papers hits a mailbox, he will sometimes say "That's rad!".
  • Unstoppable Mailman: Not even tornadoes or the Grim Reaper will stop him. Paperboy 64 even has them going through monsters, pirates, and aliens to deliver the news.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: If you damage the houses of non-subscribers, they will eventually subscribe to the newspaper.
    • Throwing a paper at someone working on their car causes it to fall on top of them.
  • Videogame Cruelty Punishment: Your customers will cancel their subscription if you break their windows more than once or bike over their flowers.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever:
    • Your progress is shown on the front page of newspapers, which raises the question of why anyone subscribes to such a publication in the first place.
    • Played with in the second game, where the next day's front page news is usually related to some incident or another you caused (good or bad).