Early arcade games are best described as punishingly hard. Because players fed coins in machines to continue, these often simple games would never make progress easy. Despite this, many of them were fantastic, and Paper Dream has a similar feel.
This is a basic shoot 'em up. You can only move side to side, up and down, and shoot straight up. Like any self respecting shooter, there are power-ups available, and lots of enemy fire to avoid. There are three difficulty levels: easy medium and hard, but easy is misleading because it's still really challenging!
There are three levels in Paper Dreams: morning, day, and night. The graphics look like they were hand-drawn on paper and animated, a style popularized by Crayon Physics. There aren't many hardcore shoot 'em ups this cute!
Using the cursor keys to move and Z to shoot makes Paper Dreams really easy to pick up and play, although is seems a perfect candidate for joystick or joypad control.
Overall, Paper Dream is a cheerful shoot 'em up, which certainly offers a lot of challenge in three levels. It requires a lot of repeated play to beat, because it's very difficult!