20/04/2021

๐Ÿค– Narita Boy | Review | XBOX SERIES X | 6.5/10 | "Narita Boy Looks and Sounds Great With a Real Appeal to Those Fans of 80’s Tech" ๐Ÿค–@studiokobaGAME #IndieGames #GameDev

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Developed by Studio Koba and published by Team17, Narita Boy is a  2D platformer which casts you in the titular role as you traverse the Digital Kingdom to confront the Creator.

Whilst the game features eye-catching pixel artwork and a gorgeous, cyber soundtrack, the main gameplay and controls had a number of quirks that mounted up and unfortunately ended up impinging on my enjoyment.

‘Flash back to the 80s. The Creator, a genius of his time, creates a video game console called Narita One with its flagship title being a game called Narita Boy. 

Narita Boy becomes a tremendous hit! Copies of cartridges are flying off physical shelves worldwide. Within weeks Narita Boy is the best-selling video game of all time, critically acclaimed for its homage to 80s culture and exceptionally kickin’ soundtrack. 

Meanwhile, inside the binaural code the digital realm connects with reality. Him has returned and deleted The Creator’s memories. Supervisor program, Motherboard, and her agents have activated the Narita Boy protocol. The Stallions are coming, and the Digital Kingdom need a hero.’

Narita Boy is a game that is rich with ‘80s references and internal lore. There’s also the option to play with quite a heavy CRT filter to further immerse yourself in the retro vibes, should you so wish. 

Sonically, Narita Boy has the goods to match the visual stylings with a moody soundtrack keeping you company as you make your way through the various areas, unlocking extra attacks to enhance the sword that acts as both a melee and ranged weapon, picked up early in the game. There are also puzzles and hidden pick-ups scattered around the Digital Kingdom as well as enemies to fight and these were the stronger parts of the game for me.

The game is NOT shy when it comes to the story. The way in which the narrative is presented to the player gives it a sense of overt complexity, with characters launching into pretty lengthy dialogues to thicken out the background and denizens that make up the Digital Kingdom, some of the location names are full-on and do give the impression of a totally on-line universe. 

That said, due to other issues which I’ll mention below, I unfortunately came to view the narrative and style as pretentious as opposed to engrossing and involved.

The combat in Narita Boy always felt somewhat rigid, even when unlocking new attacks and encountering more varied enemies, I never really fully clicked with it and preferred the more exploratory or puzzle-based moments. 

The fact that there is no map also means that you can spend some time wandering around. The passages between sections and doors also require you to push ‘up’ when near them as opposed to simply being screen transitions meaning that you have to be in a very specific place – as they tend to be high and narrow – whilst this isn’t a huge deal, when you are wandering around, looking for the next place to go; constantly doing this can be a mild irritant and I also never felt fully in control of my character’s movement and this, combined with the issues I had with combat really wore me down.

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