A few years ago we were at the quirky Hunter’s Bar, Capcom’s bar dedicated to Monster Hunter in Tokyo, and while we were part of the show and didn’t stop watching (and buying) everything, we ordered a couple of drinks , without knowing exactly what they would bring us? Montse, who knew her, had made a good choice. Ordered, I think I remember, a super potion that came with a tall cocktail glass and three shots of you know what, yeah, each a different color. For my part I ordered one of the Japanese highballs and if I remember correctly it was a wide glass and half full of spirits with a huge ball of blue ice.
Like I said, Montse made a good choice and we mixed the different takes and it was great. In my case it was the other way around. They brought me the drink and when I tasted it was bitter bitter. In all, we left my poor glass aside and gave the potion until it was gone. Since we were still thirsty and there were thighs left from some monster to eat, and the round had already ended to order more drinks, all we had left was mine, which had turned the already partially melted ice blue. Reluctantly, I drank again and the surprise came…that was damn good, so I continued my idyll with blue drinks.
Narita Boy is such a great drink. Studio Koba’s game got off to a rocky start. Lots of information, confusion, a little errand, more information and some other sweets in the form of a short fight that shows its potential but only lets us caress. It’s not time yet, don’t drink it now.
As we move forward without realizing it, the ice melts, everything begins to merge and without knowing how you synchronized with the trichrome. All the initial information is put in place, our hero matures, takes responsibility, the battle spreads its wings and we as players can only enjoy what is to come, because the further we advance, the better it gets.
Narita Boy, in this virtual case, tells us a priori the classic story of a chosen one who must save the world. Our protagonist must enter the digital kingdom and recover the memories of its creator to restore its balance. As we continue, we will break the shell and see the heart of what the Barcelona studio wants to tell us, an interesting story that explores many themes such as misfit, responsibility, family, creation or legacy. All of this in a side-scrolling action game heavily influenced by Japanese culture and the popular 80’s and 90’s.
Our hero will have the legendary techno sword to finish off the stallion, our sworn enemies who want to control the entire digital kingdom, led by the great villain HIM. As we progress through our adventure we’ll learn new moves, some classics of the genre and others that are very interesting and shine especially in the last third of the game. Among other things, the possibility of channeling one of the colors of the trichrome (the energy that surrounds everything) is added to the ascending sword, the typical dash or the energy ray, which will strengthen us against enemies who carry directs the flame of this color. As said, this mechanic is enormously fun in the last part of the game, where the enemies are less embarrassing and we have to switch between the three colors so as not to lose too much life trying.
Speaking of enemies, logically the stallions are becoming more and more challenging, forcing us to use all the resources that we have learned. Inside the stallion we have the final enemies that Narita Boy manages perfectly. I found it very successful that instead of big bosses that await us at the end of each level, the game decides to manage them to the smallest detail and that these are not extended battles. An ingenious decision that works like clockwork, giving the game a lively rhythm and constantly presenting the player with new challenges. The mechanics of each boss deserve a special mention, each of them very different, always innovative, and which give even more personality to each lieutenant of HIM.
The placement of these bosses is just the result of perfect timing. Once the ice has melted, meaning we’ve already reached the top of the roller coaster, it’s time to descend. Narita Boy is able to introduce novelties in the form of story advances, oases of calm in the form of memories of the Creator, new situations that will surprise, and from the confrontations already mentioned. A rhythm that, as we said, takes a while to gain strength, but it is the toll it has to pay so that later everything is a descent full of loops.
I love that the game is so confident that it allows itself the luxury of including situations that at first glance don’t add anything to the playable level but are essential to the development of the character and story, such as cut servo- Mount Western; It seems to me to be one of the great turning points of the title. It has many others but I prefer that you discover them and I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you. On the other hand, I strangely found a level design at the beginning that is sometimes difficult to decipher. Platforms more or less camouflaged, screen borders that we don’t know if they lead to another place or not, a somewhat convoluted mapping … A complicated design that, as I said, appears at the beginning and in my head I I think like that it reflects the inexperience of our protagonist, which isn’t as much a lack of care as all the other levels.
The spectacularity of his art is undeniable. A wonderful pixel art, the best of recent times, with mesmerizing movements, a color palette that gives the title a unique personality and enhanced with a filter based on a tube TV (which you can disable if you’ve got your brains). All this is punctuated by a tailor-made soundtrack with very 80’s and 90’s songs with a synthesizer that varies the heaviness of the melody and that can start from soft electro-pop songs like the main theme that could come from the last CD of Daft Punk, to more techno like the incredible theme dedicated to the boss White Noise, which could well have come from Boys Noize’s power album.
I love it when games are aware of what they want to be, what they want to offer. Narita Boy is one of those titles. A well thought out jewel, with many virtues, none of which I can particularly pin down because it is the sum of all that made me fall in love with this title and a studio with infinite potential.