Like many classic arcade games that have been redesigned and rereleased on a current console, Paper Boy has traded in its handlebars in favor of an N64 controller. While the premise is still the same - deliver papers to doorsteps and mailboxes while avoiding cars, dogs, burglars, and other oddities - now, the young newspaper-distribution engineer gets to roam about in a fully 3D environment. But while Paper Boy 64 tries its best to stay close to its arcade roots, it strays too far from the tried-and-true Paper Boy formula and doesn't really deliver the classic arcade experience.
The biggest and most noticeable difference between the two games is the new environment in Paper Boy 64. The isometric 2D world has been replaced with a fully 3D environment. So, instead of only delivering papers to the left side of the street, the new paperboy gets to handle both sides of the road, alleyways, and even a boardwalk or two. Best of all, you have total freedom to roam about - meaning you can make your own routes to the houses you deliver to. So, if you miss a house, you can now turn around and give it another shot. And instead of poor aim being your principal enemy, a time limit in each level and a health meter are the only things that will slow you down. The new Paper Boy shows more of a level structure, instead of the single street you were up against in the original. This new level system also includes bosses. If you've delivered enough papers to enough houses, you'll unlock a boss level, and once you have defeated the boss, you can move along into different areas of the game. Another new addition to the game is a power-up system - now you can collect extra time, health, booster packs, and other items to help you along your way.
Everything in the new Paper Boy has an oversimplified polygonal look to it. Houses, trailers, dogs, and even the paperboy himself look as though they were designed and rendered on an ancient Amiga. Other nice graphical additions are the different themes of the courses themselves. Instead of just traveling through typical suburban neighborhoods the whole game, you'll bounce around to seaside communities, trailer parks, and camping grounds, just to name a few. Each level has its own vehicles, pedestrians, houses, and obstacles. You'll run into roller-skating goat demons in the mad-scientist level, angry pelicans in the seaside level, and runaway moose in the camping level. This definitely adds some needed variety to the Paper Boy formula.
The sounds are pretty lame. The main theme that runs over the game's soundtrack is an updated version of the classic Paper Boy tune. Perhaps in an attempt to seem tied to the original, all the sound effects and speech sound really dated. Unfortunately, this doesn't help the retro-game effect the game may have been trying to achieve - instead, it just ends up sounding poor.
Because you're in a completely new environment, a completely new control scheme had to be devised. Instead of just tapping a button to toss a paper to your left, you'll now have both a left and right paper-tossing button. You can also hold down the paper-toss button and steer your throws with a helpful onscreen arrow. The new Paper Boy also has buttons that control speed, so you don't have to rely on the control stick itself to do the job. And one of the most surprising control elements is the new jump button, which lets you simply hop over obstacles. The control system is pretty rudimentary, and it lets you take command of the Paperboy without any major learning process.
While a decent game on its own, Paper Boy 64 doesn't capture the magic of the original arcade game. People looking to relive the magic of Paper Boy would be better off playing the ported version, available to PlayStation owners on the Midway Presents Arcade's Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 2 disc, or - better yet - by tracking down an arcade cabinet - handlebars and all.