Narita Boy review

Narita Boy is an action Metroidvania with a mix of platforming set in a techno-futuristic world that’s gorgeous on the eyes and ears. It has a retro-feel but scratch below the surface this is very much a modern game.

Narita Boy is heavily inspired by the 80s in terms of visual design and music, the world is bright and vibrant and the soundtrack is heavy on the synth. At first glance, it looks like a retro game, but it’s more retro-inspired with modern-day mechanics. There’s a constant CRT filter over the screen that adds to this theme.

You take on the role of Narita Boy who has been brought back to battle HIM, a virus that has stolen the memories of The Creator. HIM unleashed evil onto the world via a series of enemies and it’s your job to retrieve the famous Techno Sword and return The Creators memories and save the day.

The narrative in the game can be a little confusing, to be honest. When you first start the game there’s plenty to read and the language used can be a little overwhelming to start with. However, breakthrough this dense narrative and there’s a lot there to reward you.

You’ll have to explore the neon world without the use of a map, which at times can get under your skin, especially when the world is fairly complex. Each new screen you encounter is named and you’ll be going back and forth to the objectives menu a fair bit to keep you on track. At first, this is all a little overwhelming, but things do get easier as you play through and the story envelopes you into its grasp.

There’s plenty of NPCs in the game to interact with, and the world that Narita Boy inhabits is kind of a religious/technology mashup with many hooded characters praising technology and often dancing in rituals. At the start of the game, there are many zones locked off to you and you have to perform a series of mini-quests to get keys to open u the path to the next area. It isn’t always obvious where to go and what to do, which is one main disadvantage of the game.

In terms of gameplay, there’s platforming, sword fighting and traversal using a combination of jumping and mid-air dodging. Narita Boy himself feels a little bit floaty at times, but the combat is satisfying with the Techno Sword taking on many forms. You can swipe in quick succession at enemies, or charge up the sword in a baseball swing style. You can also use the Techno Sword as a Shotgun, or hold down the button for a charged laser beam. It’s pretty versatile, and you can employ a combination of these skills to take down the game’s array of enemies.

As you make your way further into the game you’ll unlock new ‘Wild Fire’ abilities which are red, yellow and blue. These colours are explained in the lore early on in the game, and they infuse Narita Boy with new powers. Once you use these powers you’ll be able to take on enemies in the same colour with improved damage, however, your defences will also take a hit – so you have to be careful and go in prepared.

There’s a range of enemies in the game which include your standard zombie type enemies who lumber back and forward, sword-wielding enemies where you have to keep an eye on their blade and also many other variants. Narita Boy does a great job of constantly introducing you to new enemy types, keeping the gameplay fresh and interesting. Boss battles are great fun and the music ramps up to make them feel extra epic and they work really well as stand-alone set-pieces.

The Creator’s memories are particularly good, where you are taken back to rural Japan, where he grew up as a boy. These moments Narita Boys slows down to a walk and you’re able to slowly take in this tranquil environment. The game doesn’t always do a great job explaining everything to you, but therein lies the mystery. If you like things spelt out 100% then Narita Boy may not be for you, however, if you’re into sci-fi, the 80s and pixel inspired artwork, then I think you’ll enjoy this one. Just don’t expect your hand to be held all the way through.

It’s difficult to go into too much detail on this game, but it’s worth downloading and checking out as it has all the right attributes to be a hit game. It’s also available on Xbox Game Pass, so if you are a subscriber then you already have access to the game. Metroidvania’s have been everywhere over the past few years, some are great and some are definitely worth a miss, however, I’d say Narita Boy is worth experiencing. The graphics, the music all work together really well and the storytelling is top-notch. It may be vague at times, but everything from the pixel inspired cutscenes to the immense amount of NPC dialogue and world-building make this a world worth exploring and spending time in.

Developer: Studio Koba
Publisher: Team 17
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4