LifeisXbox’s Narita Boy review | The ancient kingdom is at stake, and only the hero from the prophecy wielding his sacred sword will be able to save us. This could be the premise for a myriad of different games. Now, change this ancient kingdom for a digital realm, the ancient hero for a real-world boy who is teleported to inside his computer and the sacred sword for a… oh, no, this one we will keep. And here we have Narita Boooooooy. But don’t take my description here too seriously. Despite its overused premise, this is a title that will really surprise you.
Developed by the Spanish indie Studio Koba and published by Team17, Narita Boooooooy (whenever someone in the game says the name of our hero, they pronounce it like Bruce Buffer used to say ‘IT’S TIME’ before a UFC match, so I’ll do the same in this review) is a 2D platformer with Metroidvania elements that puts you in control of a legendary hero on a quest to save the Digital Kingdom from the menace of terrible Him. Armed with his techno-sword, he will venture through this beautiful retro-inspired ’80s world. Now get aboard, and let’s find out everything Studio Koba brought to us in this title.
Rafa played Narita Boooooooy for more than 15 hours on his Xbox One X. This game is also available for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Steam, and Switch.
What we liked!
- The story | It takes some time to get you on the road, but once you start comprehending this world and the mission ahead of you, the story in Narita Boooooooy is captivating. Narita Boy is a computer game created in the ’80s by Lionel Pearl, a Japanese game designer. He achieved tremendous success and recognition with his creation to the point of stamping the cover of Lime magazine (what is an obvious joke with Time magazine). Everything was fine until Him, a conscient part of Lionel’s code, attacked its creator, making Lionel forget about his creation. So, the Motherboard, another part of the code, summons a child from the real world to enter the game world to recover its creator’s memories. And it is impressive how you explore the Digital Kingdom and help its citizens while learning more about the story of its creator. Relieving his memories will eventually bring water to your eyes.
- Retro visuals | Narita Boooooooy visuals may look simple, but don’t let the initial impressions fool you: this retro world full of neon colors in blue, red, and yellow is simply mesmerizing! Its hand-drawn scenarios, the animation of its inhabitants, the special effects… they are amazing! The Digital Kingdom presents some unique sceneries that exhibit loads of talent and love from its developers.
- Good variation of enemies | During your time in the Digital Kingdom, you will cross paths with dozens of different enemies known as Stallions (Stallone assistants, maybe?). From sword-bearers like our hero Narita Boooooooy to giant dragon-riding foes, the variation is quite something. And let’s not forget about the impressive bosses, Him’s generals who are as impacting as are menacing. Excellent job, guys!
- Metroidvania style gameplay | If you are a fan of classics like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or new classics such as Hollow Night, you will love Narita Boooooooy. All elements from a good Metroidvania are here: back and forth exploration, the search for keys or new abilities that will give you access to previously unreachable areas… you name it! I just missed a map and the possibility to revisit ALL places previously visited. Both these elements could have helped get some now missing achievements. Other than that, I simply loved it! And now we mentioned new abilities…
- Your arsenal | Once you are in control of Narita Boooooooy and have already gotten your precious techno-sword, you have two options to dispatch your foes: swinging its blade or using it as a shotgun. Your hero also has a special attack where he concentrates his power to unleash a powerful Kamehameha-like attack that pulverizes your enemies. This small arsenal would be enough for the whole adventure, but no… This game is a Metroidvania, and Studio Koba has much more for you! The levels will present you a new challenge or a new enemy that requires a different move to be overcome from time to time. The game will constantly offer you new movements or resources: from uppercuts and air dashes to mounts and… let me hold my tongue to avoid spoiling anything here! Just trust me: Narita Boooooooy’s arsenal will not disappoint you.
- Sound | The sound in Narita Boooooooy tries to emulate the zips-and-zaps from synthesizers (which were very common during the ’80s) with a modern take that’s quite charming. I’m not a big fan of sounds from synthesizers, but the music here builds an incredible retro-atmosphere that will suck you in! The music AND the extraordinary sound effects from this Digital World, let me correct myself. You will really feel inside this fantastic world!
- Easy combat | Even though Narita Boooooooy offers a good enemy variation and our hero has numerous ways to dispatch them, combat in this title is way too easy. Not only because you are a resourceful killing machine, but because enemies are too lenient and give you a lot of time and space to think. Except for the bosses, who will provide you with a more exciting challenge. Maybe it’s just because I’m more accustomed to more frenetic Metroidvanias, but the little difficulty here was somehow disappointing, reducing the fun factor of the title.
What we disliked
- Nothing to complain about today | My experience with Narita Boooooooy was free of bugs, crashes, or any other problems, so common nowadays. Congrats on such an exceptional job, Studio Koba! You truly delivered a flawless experience.
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With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.