Narita Boy has an aesthetic inspired by a number of sources – Akira, Stalker, and too many 8-bit titles to count – but it somehow manages to feel unique.
Even more pleasing is that the presentation is matched by the gameplay. It’s an inspired creation that never feels tired or over familiar.
A Metroidvania where you play as a computer obsessed boy sucked into a world called the Digital Kingdom, you are the titular Narita Boy – and have to solve the ongoing war caused by nefarious renegade programme HIM.
There’s platforming, puzzling, and exploration all present and correct – with keys you find unlocking previously inaccessible areas. It’s your usual Metroidvania stuff.
There are additions to the formula that make things feel fresh however. This includes the techno sword, which you get early on and is possibly a tad overpowered – but is hugely fun because of that.
You’ll need that kind of power to take down the many massive bosses you’ll face though, and you’re drip-fed a range of new abilities to make the combat less of a chore.
There are also wrinkles added to the core gameplay that are very welcome, including transforming into a stag and morphing with – well we won’t ruin it.
Suffice to say there’s rarely a dull moment in Narita Boy, and it’s never frustratingly difficult – a quality a game with such an old school style might have been tempted to inherit from those controller smashing titles of yore.
The only issue on this score is the slightly strange and sparse checkpointing.
There’s no doubt the unique world the game has created is intoxicating, and although some might be put off by its retro aesthetics – the filter effect that distorts the picture edges is definitely a love it or hate it thing for example – there’s no doubt it helps elevates the experience above other Metroidvanias.
Narita Boy has style and substance in equal measure, and is a massively impressive first game from Studio Koba.