Narita Boy Review

Introduction

Narita is an action platformer set in a digital world in the 1980’s. It was made by indie developer Studio Koba and published by Team17.

Review

In the 80’s there is a man who lives in his own world. He calls it the “Digital Kingdom”. Here lives all his code, and in some ways, his own mind, until of course some bad code known as HIM, manages to erase some of his memories, by punching him through the screen. Thus causing the kingdom to collapse. Across town, a boy is playing a computer game, and he gets asked to save the land, and he accepts the request. So into the digital world he goes, to stop this bad code from spreading, destroying the kingdom, and leaking out into the real world.

The story boils down to what is essentially “get strong and save the world”. There’s not much deep story that happens in the digital world itself. If anything I disliked a lot of the story dialogue that happened in the digital world. Mostly because it was chalked full of computer tech words, while also mixing in a bunch of the in-game words for things, so at times it felt like it was trying too hard for that digital world effect. “I always knew the Trichorma would distill its essence in barely 20 pixels of condensed power.”. That is an actual line from the game that made my brain melt. As I said, it felt like it was trying very hard to sound very tech junky.

The other side to the story had me interested right from the start though. As you progress through the game and help save the creators memories, you actually walk through them and see his life. From childhood, all the way to the present day. This was filled with heartache and pain. Realization of things he should’ve done differently. It even goes into the backstory of the Trichorma, and what it all means. Had it been explained earlier, I feel I wouldn’t have had such a headache throughout the journey. The game even ends on a high note, where everything hits the fan, and then sets the game up for a sequel. Which I’m very on board with.

The gameplay for the first half of the game, had me filled with nothing but frustration. Between areas that were large enough in their own rights, that I had to constantly go all around to figure out where the next keycard went, to the combat being a little boring. All I wanted was a map. Even in a few later spots in the game, even a little map would’ve helped a lot. But the areas started to eventually grow smaller, and I was able to find my way around even more. There was even a set piece near the end of the game, with a boss fight that kept me concentrated and on the edge of my seat. Unblinking. Unwavering.

When it comes to the combat, as fun as it got, it also was hindered a lot just by the speed of it. As you progress through the game, you get new abilities that you use, not only in combat, but also traversal. From an uppercut that lets you reach higher place, to a ground pound that lets you break through blocks in the ground, or even do an aerial attack on enemies. You even get little elements that you can work with. Say an enemy has a red flame over its head, you could put a red flame over your own head, to deal massive damage to it. But it comes at the cost of taking extra damage from said enemy. I never used these elements when I first unlocked them. I found it pointless as I just sat there and mashed X, with my eyes glazed over. But as I progressed, I started using the elements to my advantage, and thinking “is it worth taking out this enemy immediately? What if he gets me and I die halfway through the fight?”. I really enjoyed how risk vs reward it turned out to be.

As I said though, the speed of the game hinders it. Eventually you deal with large punts of enemies. Or massive enemies that have a huge attack range. Sure you can get up and attack them with all you’ve got until they’re dead, and throw caution to the wind. Or you can play wisely and take your chances to attack, then back off. But the controls don’t let you do that. If you’re in the middle of an animation, and has to finish before you can do anything else. The amount of times I shot a boss with my shotgun, only to try to dodge and attack, was pointless. Or the fact that your dodge doesn’t grant any invisibility frames. So you have to be on top of all your movements at a precise moment, because if you make the wrong one, it could screw up your fight. Even other little things like not being up to uppercut in the air even made me annoyed sometimes. Mostly when it came to exploration though. Here’s hoping in the sequel, the controls are a bit more quick and no animation is locked until it’s done!

Rating

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Pros:

  • Interesting Backstory
  • Awesome Set Piece
  • Risk Vs Reward Element System

Cons:

  • Some Dialogue Is Too Confusing
  • Combat Controls Aren’t Completely Fluid

Summary

I started the game and just couldn’t get into it. But I hate dropping games once I start them, and I’m glad I didn’t drop Narita Boy. By the end it had me completely immersed and excited for more, and I recommend it to anyone who likes action games. Especially set in the 80’s with a nice Atari look to it!

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Game & Developer Information

Developer Website: Studio Koba
Developer Socials: Twitter
Publisher Website: Team17
Publisher Socials: Twitter
PSN Store Links: £19.99/€24.99 Europe / $24.99 North America
Trophy Information: 35. 40-platinum 1 / Gold 5 / Silver 9 / Bronze 20

Narita Boy – Launch Trailer | PS4

Published by oniwalker

Co-owner of NodeGamers(dot)com. Reviewer and Guide Writer. I'll play just about anything as I cry about my backlog!

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