This game really had it all. By 1984, Atari was as close to a veteran as such a new industry could have, and it really understood the concept of digital entertainment.
Paperboy was a top laugh (that goes without saying), but it was also a brilliant and measured design success. Atari took everything it had learned about making first rate coin-ops and pilled its wealth of knowledge into this six-foot tall arcade champion. Exciting gameplay (that the staple arcade demographic of teenage boys could immediately identify with); vivid, detailed graphics; awesome music; and just enough of a proprietary edge to the machine to make Paperboy a truly unique experience.
Ripping up the isometric street on his BMX, there's no ambiguity about the gameplay of Paperboy; deliver papers to the subscribers on the street without falling off your bike. Here in the UK, paperboys (and girls, of course) never had the luxury of simply wazzing the newspaper at the customer's door (or through their window, at their dog, into their break lights or at the brawling drunks in the gutter), so making up for it in the arcades was a gift to increasingly fickle young gamers.
While we await for the new blood to course through the Xbox Live Arcade, yet another of the Midway Arcade Treasures set has received a standalone release - which is either really bad news if you're sick to the back teeth of ancient old crud being fostered upon us, or a chance to relish old school gaming at its purest. 3/10 or 7/10: take your pick.
If, like me, you're in the latter camp, you might be delighted that a genuine all-time arcade favourite has been effectively welcomed into Microsoft's growing hall of fame. Surprisingly, Paperboy stands up pretty well, despite being over 22 years old, and - predictably - rather tough.
At the time, of course, it emerged during an era when arcade manufacturers were starting to get more ambitious with control devices and branching out from the traditional cabinets. Paperboy's central novelty was the use of bicycle handlebars as a means to guide the cap-wearing chap around the deadly suburban streets while you attempted to throw your stock of papers at letter boxes. As a 12 year-old, I recall with rueful clarity that it certainly didn't make it any easier to get around - in all probability, it succeeded in being cool, but not very practical.