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CONSOLE: GBA DEVELOPER: Frame Studios PUBLISHER: DSI Games
RELEASE DATE (NA): August 22, 2005 GENRE: Compilation
// review by SoyBomb

If you're looking for great value, look elsewhere!

I took a trip down to one of the large local malls this past weekend and managed to not so inadvertently stumble into an EB Games outlet. After browsing the PlayStation 1 game selection (being disappointed to find only lousy sports games and a Bob The Builder disc), and while waiting in line with my very inexpensive (albeit used) copy of "Grand Theft Auto III" for the PlayStation 2, I decided to take a peek inside their glass case of Game Boy games for sale. Amongst the variety of titles was a cheap cartridge -- $2.99, to be precise -- of a two-game compilation pak, "Paperboy / Rampage" for the Game Boy Advance. Two arcade classics on cart! This must be a godsend! I quickly snatched it up and tried it out at home (paying for it in the process, of course), overjoyed that I had snagged portable versions of such important staples in arcade gaming history.

Boy, were they ever s**t. There really isn't any other way to describe them. They both suffer from horrible gameplay elements, dark and gritty graphics, practically no redeeming aural qualities, and frankly, I just couldn't squeeze much fun or excitement out of either game. This is truly a cheap travesty. The original creators of such classics (from Midway) should be quite upset. The developer should be bankrupt because of the beyond poor job they did, but in fact, just the opposite is true: they are still working vigilantly today on countless new titles for the Nintendo DS and the Wii. The developer had also been hired to do a series of multi-game carts, but because of the sheer amount of titles they were required to port, no one game was done particularly well. Nevertheless, product this shoddy should not be allowed on the shelves. Perhaps this explains why even Wikipedia doesn't even dare to make mention of this game's existence ANYWHERE within its millions of articles. I shouldn't have passed up that Bob the Builder disc.

To be honest, the first game, "Paperboy", was never really a great game to begin with. Your goal is to bike along on your paper route and toss rolled-up newspapers at subscribers' houses while ensuring that non-subscribers do not get a newspaper. You are informed visually of which houses along the route are subscribers, but then you have to remember them all -- they don't seem to be labeled in any way (as is typical of most neighbourhoods). I tend to forget, and frankly I don't really care. So you ride along and toss the papers. In at least this version, the papers fly in an unusual diagonal direction instead of the expected direct horizontal way, so missing the house completely is always a viable possibility. And when you actually get the paper to the house, it often hits or breaks something it ought not to, like a window or a guard dog or something. You also need to watch your biking path, as there are a variety of obstacles that can knock you off your bike, such as signs, fire hydrants, traveling vehicles, and even people. If you fall off your bike, the paperboy does not get back on, it's just the equivalent of a lost life. Why the hell can he not get back on the bike? He just FELL OFF. Get back on there, moron. Your bike is occasionally unpredictable too: the rider will swerve in some random direction. Can't this guy ride a damn bicycle? I suppose not. And there are three different difficulty levels. The easiest one, "Easy St.", is tough enough; don't even attempt anything further, unless you have a deathwish for electronic torture. The gameplay isn't fun, the graphics are drab, there isn't much to say in the sound effects department (except for the fact that when you crash into something, a garbled voice sample is played, but I have no idea what's being said), the music is monotonous (although occasionally a tad too jazzy for a paperboy route) and it's overall just a dreary experience that I'd rather stash away in a drawer forever. After I played the game once, all my customers unsubscribed to the game's newspaper. I would too.

The other game available, "Rampage", is actually the better of the two, but that's not saying much. From what I gathered after some dodgy gameplay time, you are playing the role of a giant beast whose sole task is to destroy as many city buildings as he can while avoiding fire from helicopters, tanks, and even people in the buildings. To destroy the buildings, you'll need to either climb them and punch the dickens out of them until they fall down, or have it inadvertently demolished by a stray pack of dynamite dropped by human hands. As you advance through the levels, more buildings and more enemies get in your way. That's pretty much it. It actually wasn't the worst experience ever, although it was sometimes a trifle difficult to actually cling to a structure, but that's life. It's nice to see one building go down because the one next to it is falling though. That's pure joyous elevation to the next level, baby! However, like "Paperboy", this game was stomped on by extremely dated graphics, a bunch of scratchy sounds, and a handling system that will often make you scream at your enormous character. This game was also originally developed with three players in mind; no multi-player action is available here, unfortunately, even though there are three possible beasts to control.

This dual-pak of "Paperboy" and "Rampage" is simply a marketing ploy to make more money for a low-profile company who yearns for an easy buck. This would not be such a big issue if only the developer had paid closer attention to what made the original versions of these games fun, but what we get are extremely unsatisfying ports that may have been coded on the same day for all we know. The Game Boy Advance is more than capable of handling these simple games, so there's no reason for them to be so poor. You should only try this game out if you are a die-hard fanatic for either of these so-called arcade classics. All others should steer clear of this compilation, as well as frantically swerving paperboys.


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