Special Delivery for Playstation VR is essentially the arcade classic Paperboy but thrusted into the VR dimension. How does it play?
I doubt many present day gamers have played the original Paperboy, and even fewer will have played the original arcade version. My first experience with the game was on an Atari ST, and it wasn’t until years later that I saw the arcade game with its unique control methods – a pair of bike handles you had to hold to help steer Paperboy as you tried to deliver your morning paper while avoiding obstacles and making sure your aim was accurate enough to hit a mailbox instead of a window.
It’s clear where the inspiration for Special Delivery came from – it’s essentially the same game as Paperboy, but played from a first person perspective in virtual reality. Obviously you’re not holding on to handle bars this time either, but besides the DualShock controls you also have the option to play using the underused Aim Controller that was bundled with Farsight and is only supported in a handful of games thus far.
Speaking of the control system – it’s going to be a bit of an acquired taste in Special Delivery. While you can use the DualShock and Aim controller, you don’t actually steer your bike in the right direction with them – which is going to feel counter-intuitive to most gamers. Instead, imagine yourself sitting on a bike and going hands-free – using your ability to lean to steer the bike left and right. As in real life, this is not going to be for everyone and might prove far too tricky for some – resulting in frustration.
For me, it was fun to play around with this mechanism, although when performing the same moves on an actual bike you’re using your hips to shift your balance far more than your head. Playstation VR obviously doesn’t track hips, so while you’re using your traditional controller to go faster or slow down, you’re using your head to steer in your desired direction – which is extra tricky because that’s what you also need to do to keep an overview of your surroundings.
Special Delivery’s developers at Meerkat Gaming have opted for the kind of cartoon-like visuals that tend to work well in VR. Avoiding the technical limitations that the format brings with it, the game’s graphics are relatively basic in terms of detail but crisp and colorful while keeping the performance at an acceptable level.
An obvious homage to a classic title, Special Delivery feels a little like a VR experiment at times. If you can get around the control scheme you have the unique chance of experiencing Paperboy in VR, although without the tightly designed levels of the original. Instead, the focus seems to be on “being Paperboy in VR”, with a ton of mayhem and fun thrown in. It works, but only if you can get the controls to work for you. I fear I might be in the minority as far as those are concerned.