Paperboy (1984) was quite an experience.
I'm sure it was an easy sell to most parents: a nice wholesome game about delivering newspapers-very TV Land. But the gentle motif and cartoony cover art of a happy kid tossing out papers doesn't communicate several realities about the game:
1. It's positively teeming with bizarre crap, painting a typical suburban street as a terrifying death trap.
2. It leads you to run your paper route in gangster fashion, keeping your customers in line while punishing those who aren't on your side.
3. It is brutally difficult, the way only games of that era are. It demands precision control, timing, and reflexes, and there are multiple ways to fail.
So let's start by going over the many ways you can die in Paperboy.
You can run into fences, trees, skateboarders, dogs, break dancers (it was the 80's) and children on big wheels. Sounds normal enough right?
You can also be run over by a car, hit by a runaway lawn mower, or fall down an open manhole. Each day you also have to cross 2 streets, which are used exclusively by speeding motorcyclists who seem to have no regard for human life.
Think that all seems a little weird?
You can also be beaten by crazy old women, some of whom are your subscribers, when they come running after you with rolling pins. Also, random tiny tornadoes will sometime chase you down the street. Oh, and then there's Death* himself. Yeah, the Grim Reaper. He's there, just hanging out, and will personally come to collect your soul.
WHAT STREET IS THIS!?
Not content to make you dodge the afterlife at every turn, Paperboy also made you attend to your crappy job whipping newspapers. And you'd better do it right, because the required subscriber number goes up everyday, and the customers are picky. If that paper isn't on the doorstep or directly in the mailbox, even for one day, then forget it. Apparently having the news isn't worthwhile if it takes any extra effort. And don't you dare think about breaking a window . . .
. . . unless, of course, it's on a red "non-subscriber" house (and yeah, apparently canceling your newspaper sub puts you into a weird place, and you paint your whole house red overnight). You get extra points for every broken window or damaged piece of property in a non-subscriber yard, so feel free to pepper those houses with random throws. They dropped their subscription, and deserve to suffer.
And if you manage to dodge death in your little nightmare world, plus keep enough of those picky customers happy for a full week**, you know what you get? Your name in the paper. That's it.**
Paperboy in summary: Work is hard and punishing, no one appreciates you and even inanimate objects are out to get you. Good luck, sucker.
*In addition, a lot of the houses seem to have tombstones in front of them. The game is weirdly morbid.
**And what happens the next week? Does the subscriber limit keep going up, until the poor kid is run ragged delivering papers to most of the developed world?
***A fact I know because of my father, the only person I know who has beaten the game.