Postal (video game)

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Postal
Postal Coverart.png
Developer(s)Running with Scissors
Publisher(s)
Director(s)Mike Riedel
Producer(s)Vince Desi
Designer(s)
  • David De Gasperies
  • Steve Macomber
  • Steve Wik
Composer(s)Christian Salyer
SeriesPostal
Engine
  • RSPiX Edit this on Wikidata
Platform(s)Android, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, OS X, Linux, Sega Dreamcast
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows
September 24, 1997 (1997-09-24)[1]
Mac OS
  • NA: November 14, 1997 (1997-11-14)
Linux
  • NA: October 30, 2001 (2001-10-30)
  • WW: March 21, 2013 (2013-03-21) (digital)
OS X
  • WW: June 28, 2007 (2007-06-28)
Android
  • WW: April 10, 2015 (2015-04-10)
Dreamcast
  • WW: June 2, 2022 (2022-06-02)
Genre(s)Shoot 'em up
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Postal is an isometric top-down shooter video game developed by Running with Scissors and published by Ripcord Games in 1997. A sequel to the game, Postal 2, was released in 2003. Two additional sequels, Postal III and Postal 4: No Regerts, were released in 2011 and 2022, respectively. Director Uwe Boll bought the movie rights for the series and produced a film of the same name. A March 2001 re-release of the game, called Postal Plus, included a "Special Delivery" add-on. A remake of the game, Postal Redux, was released for Microsoft Windows on May 20, 2016, and was later released for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch digital stores. At the end of 2016, the game's source code was released under the GNU GPL-2.0-only.[2] At the end of 2019, Running With Scissors released the game as freeware.[3]

Gameplay[edit]

Postal is a 3D shooter with mainly isometric, but also some top-down levels featuring hand-painted backgrounds. Gameplay and interface are similar to first-person shooters of the time in most, but not on all counts:

  • Movement is always relative to the orientation of the player character (named "The Postal Dude"). The player, therefore, must always be aware of the direction the character is facing, which can be difficult to some players on the isometric maps.
  • There are eight weapon slots, each with a fixed amount of maximum ammo. The default weapon is a weak machine gun with unlimited ammo. Although it serves no practical purpose, the player can conceal their weapons by pressing the tilde key.
  • Contrary to first-person shooters, however, the goal is not to stay alive and just reach the next level, but to kill a given percentage of the armed NPCs on the map. Only then the exit to the next level is activated. Even if the player is dead, they may still exit the level as long as the required number of hostiles have been killed.

Plot[edit]

A man referred to simply as the "Postal Dude" has been evicted from his home. He believes the United States Air Force is releasing an airborne agent upon his town of Paradise and that he is the only individual unaffected by the ensuing "hate plague". He fights his way from his house to an Air Force Base through various locations, including a ghetto, train station, trailer park, truck stop, and an ostrich farm. During the course of the gameplay, a voice in the protagonist's head (voiced by Rick Hunter) can be heard taunting his victims through cryptic absurdity, often through consecutive kills or when switching through the player's arsenal.

After raiding the Air Force Base, he is shown attempting to massacre an elementary school. Despite his best efforts, his weapons have no effect on the children. Suffering a mental breakdown amidst innocent laughter, he finds himself restrained in a mental asylum as hellish images cover the screen: A body bound to chains in a corridor, the protagonist in a straight-jacket curled in the fetal position; a close-up of his face (albeit covered by bindings) and the door to his cell numbered 593. A disembodied voice, possibly a psychologist, gives a report on the protagonist's mental state: He suggests that the stress of urban life may have been the root cause of his rampage, probing him to "go postal". The lack of any mentions to military interference with the civilian population strongly implies that the Postal Dude's murders were the result of his own paranoid delusions. Amid distorted audio, the psychologist gives a final remark: "We may never know exactly what set him off, but rest assured we will have plenty of time to study him". Upon completion of the credits, manic cackling can be heard as the screen fades to black. It is suggested that the protagonist may have escaped the confines of the asylum to pursue further acts of violence.

Due to the controversy surrounding the games release, along with numerous, unrelated American school shootings in the years following, the 2016 redux of the game's ending has been changed. Replacing the elementary school vision is the player witnessing the burial of an unknown person in a decaying field, though it can be implied that it is his own. Completion of the game on the hardest difficulty features the inclusion of an unknown male and female mourning over the grave as it descends. Both outcomes prompt a similar mental breakdown and an identical asylum cutscene, though consisting of animated shots over the original release's still image artwork.

History[edit]

Development[edit]

Postal was developed by Running with Scissors and published by Ripcord Games in 1997 for Windows and MacOS.[4]

Releases[edit]

In 2000 a Japanese version of Postal called Super Postal was released featuring Japanese voices and two exclusive levels, "Tokyo" and "Osaka". These levels remained exclusive to Super Postal until the release of Postal Redux in 2016.

Postal: Special Delivery, an expansion to the original Postal, was released on August 28, 1998[5] and featured four new levels and various new characters and voices. One level, in particular, was set in a parody of Wal-Mart and began with the Dude's demon chastising the store for not selling Postal, which foreshadows the off-kilter humor seen in Postal 2.

A March 2001 re-release of the game, called Postal Plus, included the "Special Delivery" add-on. It was ported to Linux by Loki Entertainment in the same year.

In 2002, Postal Plus (known as Postal: Classic and Uncut in Europe) bundled Postal and the Special Delivery expansion, with retail copies also including a demo for Postal 2.

On February 14, 2022, independent publisher Wave Game Studios announced a port of the game to the Sega Dreamcast was to be released on June 2, officially licensed by Running with Scissors.[6]

Digital distribution re-release[edit]

Postal Plus was released on the digital distributor GOG.com in 2009 and a few years later on Steam. In 2013, it was updated with support for widescreen resolutions and modern hardware. The multiplayer component and level editor were removed, however. In 2015, it was updated with full Xbox 360 controller support.

Open source[edit]

In 2015, the developers announced that they will release the source code of the game "if someone promises to port it to the Dreamcast".[7] In June 2016 the developers gave the source code to a community developer who ported the game to Linux for the OpenPandora handheld.[8][9]

On December 28, 2016, the source code was released on Bitbucket under the GNU GPL-2.0-only.[2][10]

Reception[edit]

NPD Techworld, a firm that tracked sales in the United States,[17] reported 49,036 units sold of Postal by December 2002.[18]

Next Generation reviewed the PC version of the game, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "Overall, Postal is a title that breaks absolutely no new ground, but its tongue-in-cheek shooting action comes together to form a well-above-average shooter that adds to the genre."[14]

Postal received mixed reviews from critics. It holds a Metacritic score of 56/100.[11] GameSpot's Mark East gave the game a 6.6/10 score and commented: "The lack of longevity in the single-player mode and the simplistic multiplayer options make Postal a moderately fun ride, at best."[13] On regards to The Postal Dude's aggressive personality East comments on the Postal Dude's phrases from his diary, which indicate "something's not quite right in Postal Dude's noggin".[19]

In a retrospective, GamingOnLinux reviewer Hamish Paul Wilson gave the game 7/10, commenting that "there is no denying that Postal has some faults even when compared to some of the other games that were released around the same time as it, and time has definitely not been very kind to the title itself. But the concepts that the game explores, the ideas being expressed, and much of their actual implementations are just so interesting and compelling that one can still actually look past many of these faults and see the hidden gem that lies underneath."[20]

The reviewer from Pyramid #30 (March/April 1998) stated that "Many people have thought the premise for the game is sick. Well, it is. But, that's what makes it fun. There's no quest for secret, lost treasure. There's no time-clock ticking away as you try desperately to save the world. There's no alien spaceships or fantastical powers. There's just good old fashioned, psychotic violence - something that our mass media entertainment powers have been bringing us on prime time for years."[21]

Sequels[edit]

A sequel to the game, Postal 2, was released in 2003. Director Uwe Boll bought the movie rights for the series and produced a film of the same name. Two additional sequels, Postal III and Postal 4: No Regerts, were released in 2011 and 2022, respectively.

Redux[edit]

Running with Scissors developed a remake of Postal, titled Postal Redux, using Unreal Engine 4. The project was announced as Postal: Redux in November 2014, then targeting a 2015 release for Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows.[22][23] In addition to these platforms, Running with Scissors announced Postal Redux as coming to PlayStation 4 in February 2016.[24] The Microsoft Windows version was released on May 20, 2016, while Linux, macOS, and PlayStation 4 versions were scheduled for a later release.[25] The PlayStation 4 version was canceled by June 2017, with Jaret Schachter of Running with Scissors blaming a lack of sales of the PC version.[26] MD Games ported Postal Redux to the Nintendo Switch, releasing it via the Nintendo eShop on October 16, 2020.[27] The company also produced a PlayStation 4 version, which was released on March 5, 2021.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff (September 24, 1997). "Now Shipping". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on February 18, 1998. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
    "Now Shipping: ...Postal (Ripcord)..."
  2. ^ a b The Original POSTAL Has Been Made Open Source Archived December 29, 2016, at the Wayback Machine on runningwithscissors.com (December 28, 2016)
  3. ^ "In Development: POSTAL 4: No Regerts + POSTAL 2 giveaway". GOG.com. CD Projekt. December 16, 2019. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2020. From now on you can also get the first part of the POSTAL series for free on GOG.COM, this time permanently.
  4. ^ Dan Elektro (October 1997). "Postal". GamePro. No. 109. IDG. p. 113.
  5. ^ Gentry, Perry (August 28, 1998). "Weekend Releases". CNET Gamecenter. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "POSTAL™ IS COMING TO DREAMCAST ON JUNE 2ND". wavegamestudios.com. Wave Game Studios. Retrieved February 14, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "We're going to release the POSTAL 1 source code soon, but only if someone promises to port it to the Dreamcast." Archived October 16, 2015, at the Wayback Machine on twitter.com/RWSbleeter (2015)
  8. ^ @RWSbleeter (June 1, 2016). "POSTAL 1 running on Open Pandora. P1 is being opened sourced in the near future!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Postal Source Code Archived August 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine by ptitseb "Things are progressing... Stay tuned." (2016)
  10. ^ license Archived December 29, 2016, at the Wayback Machine at bitbucket.org/gopostal/postal-1-open-source/src
  11. ^ a b "Postal for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on March 1, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
  12. ^ "Postal Review". Game Revolution. June 5, 2004. Archived from the original on March 1, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  13. ^ a b East, Mark (October 17, 1997). "Postal Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 37. Imagine Media. January 1998. pp. 160, 162.
  15. ^ Bauman, Steve (1997). "Postal Review". Computer Games Magazine. Archived from the original on April 6, 2005. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  16. ^ Redwood, Stephen. "Postal - Review". Games Domain. Archived from the original on July 12, 2003. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  17. ^ Spooner, John G. (June 13, 2003). "Gateway notebook goes for ratings". ZDNet. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  18. ^ Staff (May 2003). "The 10 Most Controversial PC Games of All Time". PC Gamer US. 10 (5): 50, 51.
  19. ^ East, Mark (October 18, 1997). "Postal Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  20. ^ Wilson, Hamish (October 28, 2012). "GamingOnLinux Reviews - Postal: Classic And Uncut". GamingOnLinux.com. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Pyramid: Pyramid Pick: Postal". Sjgames.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2005. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  22. ^ Ritter, Tobias (November 18, 2014). "Postal: Redux – HD-Remake des Amok-Spiels angekündigt". GameStar. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  23. ^ Chalk, Andy (November 17, 2014). "Postal: Redux confirmed for next year". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  24. ^ Futter, Mike (February 24, 2016). "Postal Redux Brings The Ultra-Violent Shooter To A New Generation". Game Informer. Archived from the original on August 27, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  25. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (May 10, 2016). "Postal Redux is coming to Steam next week". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  26. ^ Romano, Sal (June 2, 2017). "Postal Redux PS4 version cancelled". Gematsu. Archived from the original on October 17, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  27. ^ Craddock, Ryan (September 25, 2020). "Postal Redux Brings The Controversial Shooter To Console For The First Time On Switch". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on October 21, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  28. ^ Romano, Sal (February 23, 2021). "POSTAL Redux coming to PS4 on March 5". Gematsu. Retrieved February 23, 2021.

External links[edit]