This fantastic-looking action-adventure platformer just launched on pretty much everything, so we caught up with it on Xbox Game Pass. Because that’s free and we’re cheap.
Explore the Digital Kingdom in Narita Boy
As with Unto the End in 2021, Narita Boy just has that look of a game you want to play. The artistic style is cool and it’s just ruddy cool altogether, okay?
The title is from indie team Studio Koba, based in Barcelona (in Spain, obviously).
It’s a retro-futuristic pixel game, one with dreamlike concepts across different dimensions. It’s an ambitious project, let’s put it like that.
The plot is pretty complex. A lot is crammed in early on and we’d rather just let the story trailer do the talking.
Right, so you’re zapped into a 1980s home computer. As the player, you control Narita Boy and you explore the Digital Kingdom to defeat the antagonist HIM.
Early on you pick up the Techno Sword. Soon after it becomes clear this is strong Metroidvania title to add to the genre.
Your task is to defeat corrupt baddies and restore The Creator’s memory. From within what looks like an early Apple computer. And there are lots of nods to the ’80s in general.
Narita Boy’s soundtrack is ramped up with synth music from the decade, which titles such as Katana ZERO played into recently.
Right, so it looks amazing and sounds great. But what about the gameplay?
It’s a fairly traditional Metroidvania concept and an engaging one, too. You get new power ups and progress through the maze like structure.
What stands out is the weird and wonderful Digital Kingdom you get to explore. You’re dumped into the game and just get on with it, unlocking the bizarre story bit by bit.
The enthralling backdrops of the title make each new area pretty fascinating to discover, with all sorts of unusual nods to ’80s technology (often floppy disks and a VHS tape boss).
And you have to solve some basic puzzles to progress, in between battles with baddies.
The combat system is nifty and enjoyable, with new weapons coming thick and fast to help you get around the landscape.
One of the big delights about Narita Boy? The amount of surprises during your journey.
We won’t drop any spoilers, only to nod that the game does have a shift away from running around the retro landscape, instead focussing on some fast-paced action.
When we were considering getting the game, we saw IGN’s 6/10 review and had second thoughts. But we’re glad we ignored that to have a go on Xbox Game Pass (that’s like a the Netflix of Xbox, if you were wondering).
It’s definitely a game we want to own once it’s off that and may well add the title to our Best Modern 2D Platformers list!
IGN’s 6/10 is far from terrible, of course, but we think the love and attention to detail in Narita Boy shines through.
Problems? The title’s lack of a map is bewildering at times and a daft thing to miss out.
That does mean some vague staggering about the place lost. But it’s not game ruining (although IGN appears to think one fast-paced level is too frustrating to bother with).
Well, we think it’s a very strong Metroidvania title with a lot to offer. If you love the genre, like we do, it comes highly recommended.
Its flaws aside, it offers more than enough to keep you fixated for its five plus hours of (as the game puts it) oneiric action.