No need to cancel your subscriptions! The long wait is over! It’s been a long time coming but the venerable classic Paperboy has finally been given the HD treatment and is now on its way to the Switch… Kind of. I am of course talking about Video Kid: 80’s Edition.
The last Paperboy title to come out was a half-hearted mobile port in 2010 but the last true Paperboy title was released way back in 1999 for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Paperboy is one of those classic titles that you have heard of but may not have played unless you are over a certain age or into historical gaming.
Delivery for psychical media subscription services may seem crazily archaic and even when the original arcade Paperboy was released the newspaper delivery system rarely employed children anymore. The arcade release has one of the most unique cabinets featuring replica bicycle handlebars. While the classic thrilling arcade handlebar set up has never been achieved on the console releases they have still retained the charm and excitement of the coin-operated original. (Editor’s note: The author has now been informed that this is not a Paperboy sequel).
Video Kid: 80’s Edition is obviously a loving homage to the Paperboy series of games and builds upon some of the classic’s foundations while implementing humorous references into the new title. Containing more references than eight episodes of Family Guy the gameplay consists of throwing pirated VHS tapes into your subscribers’ mailboxes (only on one side as opposed to Paperboy’s two-sided gameplay) and dodging or jumping over anything that stands in your way. There is only one background but quite a few unlockable tricks and outfits for the main character (mostly consisting of Michael J. Fox themed costumes and a few more odd surprises).
On the surface, Video Kid: 80’s Edition is a shallow game, filled with little more an unending stream of unofficial versions of everyone’s favorite 1980’s/90’s cultural icons yelling approximations of catchphrases, but success in this game require absolute concentration and lightning-fast reflexes. Once you focus your mind into Zen-like clarity you see between the distractions, the gameplay becomes so cathartic and entertaining that it makes the death, score, menu cycle all the more unbearable.
At times Video Kid: 80’s Edition’s constant bombardment of the eighties and nineties references become overwhelming, but that is the entire point. The single level is absolutely littered with unlicensed but obvious facsimiles of Inspector Gadget, Pee-Wee Herman and the cast of Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock are all there to literally take your eyes off the prize. Unofficially this is A bigger crossover than Smash Brothers Ultimate. Watch your back, Sakurai!
Dodging Optimus Prime and throwing a pirate video cassette through the Simpsons garage causing something to fall and crush poor Homer’s body is cute, but there is a real danger of boredom setting in if you are only seeing the same thing over and over again. The developers have chosen to make the level randomized so you are not too likely to see the same cameo in your next playthrough, although by the very nature of the game you’ll reload enough to pretty much see everything and still get a chuckle or surprise every now and then.
Calling the excellent contributions by Savant a soundtrack is a bit of a reach as there really is only one song. The title tune is undeniably a bloody lovely song that delights and entertains, rewarding your first bit of progress and letting you know exactly what you are in for before you may have even grasped the very fundamentals of the game. Praise aside in a game that can potentially be beaten in five minutes only you have one song.
The worst part of this game is that after you die, you slowly get taken to the score sheet, where your total distance is measured and money earns in that run is added to your total. This is a slow unskippable process and completely redundant as you are given your total score in the top left at all times during gameplay. Annoyingly this only takes perhaps five seconds but it completely interrupts the flow and destroys any momentum you have built up skating for your life. One wrong move and that’s it and you will die, over and over and over again. You’re dead. Back to the score screen.