There are now so many nostalgic movies, programs, songs and games from the 80s that I’m sure we’ve already used up our quota for the revival of that decade for the next twenty years or so. Between Stranger Things, Weekend Dazzle Lights, Ready Player One, and more, it’s hard to find anything inspired by the ’80s that is truly original today. The boy from Narita is a good example. This is by no means a revolutionary approach to the trend, which is drinking from the well of Tron on an unprecedented scale, but it’s still worth a try. Just remember, it’s a very bad name.

Prepare to cramp up during this section.

The somewhat convoluted story of Narita Boy is about the hero fighting hordes of enemies in an old-fashioned computer game in the digital realm. He attempts to save Earth from the clutches of HIM (an unnamed Finnish group) and retrieve the memories of the game’s creator, who, like James Holliday in Ready Player One, assumes the role of a divine figure in the setting. You’re also greeted by an unnecessary amount of technobabble and made-up terms that are only there to make things even more incomprehensible than they already are.

Overall, Narita Boy isn’t particularly brilliant, but you can look past that and appreciate the game for what it really is: a super-stylish Metroidvania filled with tons of audio-visual elements straight out of every 80s cliché you can think of. After a brief introductory section where you can’t defend yourself against HIM’s henchmen, you finally grab the legendary Techno Sword and kill everything in sight.

This is the busiest Narita, and it’s great.

The struggle is simple and noble. His sword delivers an awesome punch and turns all sorts of enemies into a pile of data. You can charge your attack sword to take down everyone around you with a home run. You can also use a limited number of shots in the blade, turning it into a shotgun. You are constantly learning new moves to add to your arsenal and feeling good about yourself. Narita Boy takes Metroid’s progression system like few games can. You won’t be able to wait for the enemies to show up, because it’s great to tear them apart.

That’s not to say the gameplay is flawless. Unfortunately, despite its excellent combat system, Narita Boy’s controls are a bit confusing and slow down noticeably. This isn’t really a problem during fights, because pressing the square button like crazy will solve it in 99.99% of the cases. But when it comes to platforms, things start to get boring. The game also lacks a map feature and forces you to backtrack through levels far too often. Terrible combination.

The plot of Narita Boy consists of pure technobabble, totally incomprehensible.

Since Narita Boy is so inspired by the raw look of the 80s, one can only imagine that the visual and sound design are perfect, but only half of that statement is true. First of all, the soundtrack is great. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a game set in an 80s virtual world: a wave of loud, abrasive synths with electronic bass lines that shake the walls of your room like an earthquake. The sound effects are as loud and silly as they need to be. I have no complaints about the sound design in general. However, there is a problem with the optics. ….

Don’t get me wrong, Narita Boy’s graphics are truly….. excellent. It’s really well designed, with impeccable sprites and animations, and really creative backgrounds. But the game is fucking horror like I’ve never seen. The problem is that the game constantly bombards you with lights. It’s too shiny and abrasive. If you are sensitive to light, you should reduce the brightness of the TV or avoid this game altogether. I’m not sensitive to light and I’m always disgusted by the flashes of light that make my eyeballs explode every few seconds, so you can imagine this can happen to more sensitive people.

The battles in this game are delightful.

Narita Boy is certainly not a bad game, but it’s filled with too many spells that overshadow what could have easily been one of the best indie games of the year. Either way, in its current state it can be enjoyed not only as a classy stick, but also as a hell of a lot of synth-based candy. But the noticeable delay in boarding, the uninteresting storyline, and especially the overabundance of flashing lights quickly irritated me. If you decide to buy this bad boy (and you probably will if you’re a fan of 80s nostalgia), you’re better off buying a copy of Switch. On a smaller screen, it’s probably easier to manage strobe effects.

Believe it or not, Narita Boy is a great game with great sprites and animations. Unfortunately, the game is overloaded with strobe lights and distracting effects that are actually a nightmare for the light sensitive. The battles are very satisfying, but the controls suffer from a noticeable lag. The layout of the controls is also a bit odd.
Narita Boy’s synth-wave soundtrack is absolutely pure, and the loud sound effects are really impressive. While the fights are incredible and the setting totally unique, Narita Boy is hampered by its convoluted plot, digressions, and dull graphics.
Last block : 7.0

Narita Boy is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Tested on PS4.

Narita’s copy of The Boy was provided by the publisher.

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