Arcade Paperboy designer a fan of iPhone Paperboy revival


If you haven’t picked up the previously covered iPhone/iPod Touch release of Paperboy yet, you should because, well, it’s Paperboy. Dave Ralston, who designed the original arcade version of the game in 1984 had a few words to say about the new release as well as some reflection on his original title. Ralston said he was “impressed and flattered” by how faithful the game is to the original, and that he likes the new 3D mode (the game can be played in the ‘classic’ 2.5D mode, or a new 3D interpretation), preferring it to the classic mode for the sake of visibility. Ralston’s main criticism has been echoed in reviews of the game – the lack of tilt steering for the bike.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what really interests me here is Ralston’s reflections on the shortcomings of the arcade title. His biggest point seemed to be with the unforgiving collision detection in the game, something any Paperboy fan can attest to. Papers were tricky to nab, and obstacles seemingly impossible to avoid at times. Of course, the game play worked well enough that you were willing to keep going anyway, hours on end until you finally reached Sunday. Ralston’s other gripe was with his training ground, which he describes as feeling “tacked on,” a point that I can see, though the training grounds were always a fun moment of relaxation for me.

Paperboy (iTunes Store Link)

5th January 2010 – Lichfield, Staffs, United Kingdom

Dave Ralston, designer of the PAPERBOY™ arcade game back in 1984, speaks about the new iPhone / iPod Touch versions

The following is extracted from an exchange between Dave Ralston, designer of the Paperboy™ arcade game back in 1984, and Steve Wilcox, co-founder of Elite Systems, the long established UK based developer and electronic publisher of games for portable, mobile and other devices regarding the recently released iPhone & iPod Touch versions of Paperboy™.

In an earlier Press Release, Elite® wrote –

“Play in either:
– ‘Classic’ or in
– re-imagined ‘3D’ view – you decide.

Deliver newspapers to all the “customer” houses on the street, avoiding hazards such as the kid on the big wheel, the RC car and many more. Also, don’t forget to damage the property of “non-customer” houses to score additional points along the way.

Created specifically for Elite®, developers and publishers of Paperboy™ for more than 20 years.”

Dave wrote:

“Hi guys. I wanted to give you some feedback, though I feel I still haven’t played the game enough to give much. (I’m still trying to unlock the Time Attack and Challenge modes!)

First of all…GREAT job! I’m so impressed AND flattered that you so faithfully reproduced the original! (It’s all coming back to me!) And I really enjoy seeing the 3D mode, even preferring it to the “2.5”. (Better visibility ahead of you.) The whole thing is very attractively done, I think.”

Asked about what improvements he’d have made to the 1984 arcade game if he had his time over, Dave wrote:

“If I were able to go WAY back in time and re-do the game, given what I know now, I probably would’ve addressed at least some of these…

–Questionable, unforgiving, “all or nothing” collisions. I distinctly remember being very annoyed at feeling I had gotten by something, only to have it knock me over. Sure would’ve been nice to have some “close calls”, even going so far as producing a wobble in the bike without knocking you down.

–Paper bundles are too hard to pick up. Would’ve preferred to be a little more generous with the collision detect on them.

–I never liked my design for the training grounds. It always seemed too much like a last-minute add-on to the game.”

And asked about what improvements he’d have made to the iPhone / iPod Touch versions, Dave wrote:

“I gotta ask a question that I immediately had, and have since seen in review comments: Was it not possible to incorporate tilt steering, as well?”

Commenting on Dave’s input, Steve said: “it’s been a privilege to communicate with Dave about his work and our ‘take’ on it and you can be sure we’ll be paying close attention to what he wrote (along with the reviews) when producing any update”.

A game trailer can be found here:

The English-language version of Paperboy™ went live on App Stores on Friday 18th December 2009 priced at US$4.99, Euro3.99, GBP2.99. It’s expected that a non-English-language versions will go live on App Stores in the New Year.

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About the Author: Brian Hefele

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