Narita Boy review
2 GB available space
A Spanish indie game with 80s spirit, massive battles, and sensational 2D graphics: Narita Boy spreads a digital kingdom in front of the player and puts the mighty techno sword in his hands.
Superficially, however, Narita Boy is about a pixelated Springinsfeld, a neon knight with a techno-sword who must save the digital kingdom from the Stallion monsters, red-black glowing malware. The many dialogs that run via text boxes do not spare with full-bodied sounding, but mostly quite content-less phrases, names, and stories. It's best to read along only superficially and not worry too much about transcendences and the Trinity of Trichroma while exploring the "Cavern of Amniotic Water" and the "Royal Stables", stopping by the "Alpha Tesseract" or visiting the "Dimension of Horror Beta Maxima Prime". Here, Narita Boy takes itself too seriously, which doesn't quite fit with key cards that look like floppy disks or the boss that hits with a videotape hammer. In general, the game can be accused of reaching a bit too deep into the 80s box and not leaving out any motif that sent the joystick youth of that decade into ecstasy. At the same time, however, Narita Boy looks so outstanding with its slightly dirty pixels and curved screen edge borrowed from the CRT tube that I couldn't help but be amazed.
In terms of gameplay, there's also a lot to like: The 2D action-adventure relies on exploration and investigation as much as it does on combat and platforming passages. The latter is not particularly challenging but is sometimes integrated into the landscape in such a homogeneous way that you have to search for the way for a few seconds. A tad more precision would do the controls well, but fortunately, the platforms are rarely so narrow that frustration arises.
The Narita Boy can reach particularly high places with a massive punch jump, scramble vertically up some walls, and bridge long distances via Dash. In combat, there is a lot of blunt attacking with the standard punch button, but also fast dodging attacks with a shoulder ram, a shotgun, and a powerful laser shot. As the game progresses, my pixelated boy learns new all-around strikes against enemies from both sides, can refill his energy bar, and can even summon mighty warriors from the past to his aid - which then carry massive damage to the hordes of enemies in smart-bomb fashion.
Although the superimposable mission objectives clearly state what your next goal is, you can sometimes get confused by the computer science mysticism of the NPC characters - then you wander a bit awkwardly through the intricate level network of elevators, doors, and platforms. A map would have helped to shorten the annoying back and forth in search of key cards.
Narita Boy's audiovisuals are downright stunning: The cyber fairy tale of the knight with the techno sword is incredibly cool staged, the pixel sceneries look archaic and futuristic at the same time. Meanwhile, the game also sounds strong, the synth soundtrack offers dreamy melodies and atmospheric ambient sounds in equal measure. Fortunately, the game isn't a graphic dazzler: The fast-paced battles are fun, the hit feedback is powerful, and the enemies' attack patterns are surprising but still learnable.