This video game is a hack ‘n’ slash with an art style that appeals to the movies of the 80’s and 90’s, but fast, modern and exciting gameplay.
Narita Boy does not stay stuck in his time that he tries to emulate, Studio Koba presents a different proposal and well polished in its details.
Narita Boy: His Aesthetic Roots
Many people like me do not live in the era of the 80s or 90s, so many references to movies or series such as Star Trek they are alien to us, but Narita Boy it made me interested in this world.
It is a love letter to the aesthetics of the time, to the music and its stories: from the home screen it pays tribute to posters and music from movies such as Star Wars O Tron.
But, this is where Studio Koba start to shine: treat your referrals with respect and passion. He knows when to get serious and when to relax to laugh at himself.
The story needs no further explanation. Are Narita Boy, a cybernetic samurai and you have to enter the computer of ‘The Creator’ to fight the deadly virus HIM to defend the Digital Kingdom.
The plot is fueled by the lore told by its characters who know how to make you feel important and vital to the survival of this world. Nobody but you can do it.
Hate metroidvania? This one is for you
As soon as you receive the Techno-Sword from the hands of the MotherBoard, techno music picks up speed and your journey through fighting HIM starts.
You find yourself with your sword in an unknown world, with machines lurking around you and you don’t know where to go. However, this is not a problem, the game strives to help you show you the way and teach you its mechanics.
Backtracking within Narita Boy it is restricted ONLY to the area you are exploring, the secrets, weapons, power-ups and enemies are there. You will never have to go back to the beginning of time to solve a puzzle (and I appreciate it).
This works for and against this video game: Every time you manage to leave an area and receive a power-up to defeat a new enemy, your progress is felt, it is an exciting experience. But, in turn, these feel wasted throughout history.
And for the same reason, the controls don’t feel as precise: You don’t use them much, they don’t need as much polishing. There were several times that I got stuck for hours climbing a wall and I promise you I don’t play that bad (and I tried various controls).
When you get to the most exciting fights with mecha, they can last so short that they leave you wanting more and you can’t relive them again (and there is no post-game worth it). I am a fan of Evangelion and Gurren Lagan, these were the fights that I enjoyed the most. I need a DLC just for this.
Narita Boy’s story
Despite the above, there was something that kept me holding on to reach the end of Narita Boy: your emotional moments.
This is a love letter to the cinema of that time. And, I say this with all my love. For instance; They offer you a ‘horse’ that will travel with you the deserts of the Digital Kingdom.
Composer Salvador Fornieles disconnects techno music and gives you a western musical atmosphere with everything and incidental whips. In this cinematic moment I felt that I was the hero in search of justice.
These emotional moments are best achieved when you unlock the ’12 memories of ‘The creator‘. In them, you learn about his life, his childhood, his family and his past.
The change in tone goes from neon lights, techno music and heroism to a more personal one with sober colors and a music box playing in the background, while he recounts his memories as an old friend.
Unlike the rest of the game, this section is slow and leisurely, it has no fights, it has no colors and it is what I was most excited about. Narita Boy. I think that says a lot about the game.
Is Narita Boy worth buying?
If he Studio Koba It is a group of only seven people and you can see the love of each one of them in this video game.
Despite the gameplay problems, controls, among others (such as the lack of highlights), it is a game that knows how to capture your attention with some of its different sections. In my case: history, design and music.
Hopefully soon we will see more video games from this small Catalan studio that promises a lot and it shows with the awards he has won with this big step. Plus, it’s on Xbox Game Pass, so there’s no excuse not to play it.
Narita Boy is available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC (Steam and GOG). This review is based on the PC version.
Graphics and Sound
- Incredible sound design and music
- Interesting and unique retro-wave style
- Good side story
- Inaccurate controls
- Low replayability
- Wasted gameplay