'Narita Boy' is the cyber-retro platformer you've been waiting for

First Impressions: ‘Narita Boy’ is the cyber-retro platformer you’ve been waiting for

Narita Boy is a bizarrely beautiful pixelated platformer that will penetrate deep into your subconscious with the authority of a jackhammer.

Narita Boy is an upcoming indie game, developed by Studio Koba, that leaves an impression. It’s like a tripped-out Tron played through a lo-fi filter; where the game that you are playing, is actually the game within a game.

Currently, we are only allowed to share the first few hours of Narita Boy. However, this first portion contains enough vibey music, mind-bending visuals, and memorable moments that it would be a crime not to share what we are able to. So here you go.

Welcome to the world of Narita Boy

Narita Boy starts off with a genius computer game designer having his memories absorbed into the very game that he created. Somewhere else in the world a young boy, presumably the titular Narita Boy, is sucked into the same game world. You, as the Narita Boy, must battle a rampaging, malicious virus called HIM that is responsible for not only this, but also bringing war and suffering to the world of the game.

I’m going to level with you and say that the finer details of the plot, at least up until the point that I’ve played, aren’t super important. There is an almost Lynchian dream logic to the whole thing where making sense isn’t paramount. However, this doesn’t detract from the overall experience.

The game transports you into a fever dream that never lets up. At first I found myself impressed by the atmosphere, but thought that the effect would eventually wear off. However, the game’s inventiveness has consistently left me astonished and wanting more. Playing Narita Boy is like like gazing over a marvellous vista that is in a constant state of flux.

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How the game plays

The gameplay is deceptively complex for a platformer too. At first I thought I would be able to progress through the entire game by simply jumping and slashing my way through the various levels. However, I soon realised this wasn’t going to work.

Narita Boy drip-feeds the player an ever-expanding arsenal of attacks and abilities. You wield a powerful artefact called the Technosword, with which you can slash enemies in a surprisingly varied number of ways. However, my favourite attack is undoubtedly this grotesque ability where you rip your little monitor face off and blast everything in your path with a beam of highly destructive, limb-dismembering light.

Very nasty. But also very rewarding.

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Narita Boy plays like a cool combination of platformers; Hollow Knight and retro metroidvania-style games being obvious touchstones. However, the game is noticeably more forgiving in terms of difficulty, and doesn’t feel quite as responsive as some of those titles. This actually end up working really well; allowing you to focus on other aspects of the game.

For example, at one point I morphed into a majestic computer stag and bounded through a beautiful forest, little mechanical animals at my feet. Occasionally I stopped, grazing on the grassy forest floor. It felt like a scene out of a Miyazaki film.

That moment is representative of what makes Narita Boy such a unique and promising game: it has the ability to transport you.

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Narita Boy is being released on Steam, PS4, Xbox ONE and Nintendo Switch on March 30. Find out more here.