In recent years, the games indies They have become a big center of attention for me, and I am generally aware of the releases of those who are considered the most promising. So when it came on my radar Narita boy, game developed by the Barcelona studio Studio Koba, I had a great desire to take the glove and dive into it. The biggest surprise was that the title arrived at launch for Xbox Game Pass, so the truth is, I had no excuse not to give this project a chance.
For those of you who are not very aware of this Narita Boy, this is a 2D platform title with an aesthetic Pixel art, y que se desarrolla por completo en un universo único creado para la ocasión, que muestra a la perfección la unión de lo moderno con lo tradicional, gracias sobre todo a la gran cantidad de guiños que tiene el juego hacia muchos clásicos del cine y los video games. How could it be otherwise, we will take on the role of Narita Boy himself, and we will embark on a journey to recover the lost memory of the Creator of this particular universe.
Today I come to share with you my thoughts on what (spoiler notice) I think is a strong contender to be one of the best games of this 2021. Without further ado, let’s go!
Years ago the games indies they were somewhat “looked down upon”, especially in those days when the spotlight was only taken by AAA games. This was mainly because the graphics on these looked superlative compared to others like this, but I think that’s wrong. Narita Boy is a very special game in every way, and it’s one of those titles that leaves you breathless from the first minute of the game. I think Studio Koba gave us one of the best pixel-art adventures of recent years.
As I mentioned before, the game takes place entirely in a digital universe created for the game, where we will have 3 realms (one for each color, something that is repeated during the game) that is completely unique. However, I think one of the virtues of this is how well it works with an animal, mythological, and even tribal component that some of the beings and places we see add to. In a moment we will go from visiting an ancestral forest populated by robotic creatures to a bazaar or even a bar populated with all kinds of customers. While it is true that the game seems to be designed like a metroidvania, with a few places a bit labyrinthine that will force us to remember where we are, but in reality we are faced with a fairly linear adventure.
In addition, the game has a visual filter that mimics the image of a CTR monitor it will give us the impression of playing on an old tube TV, and that it feels good (even if we don’t like it, we can turn it off). When it comes to the design of enemies, the truth is that we have quite a wide variety that manages not to annoy the player regardless of the number of confrontations. Each of them will have a weak point for which we have to learn a series of patterns, and even at a certain point in the adventure we will see variants of them with colors, for which we can activate an ability that will cause double the damage, suffering. we also double the damage caused by them.
Special mention to the bosses and mini-bosses that we will find throughout our adventure. These, called stallion commanders or generals, will make it difficult for us at times, and they all have their own unique personalities that make them unique. All of this is mashed to perfection with a soundtrack that has melodies of all kinds, both quiet to set the mood and more lively (and with lots of techno) ones for the fights. We were able to test the game on an Xbox Series X and the performance is just perfect. The 60fps doesn’t budge at any time, and loading screens are virtually nonexistent. The game lacks voices (real, because it has an invented dialect), but of course It is fully translated into Spanish.
Narita Boy has a playable structure that will make us age to remember some classics of the genre. Our mission as elected and savior of the Kingdom will be to help the Creator to find his memory, erased by the main enemy of the adventure who receives the name of Him (him). As we travel through the world of Narita Boy, we will come across monoliths in the shape of the Creator’s face, which will bring us to know his life practically since his birth. Along the way we will have to advance by a typical structure of finding a door that needs a key, finding the key, getting the key, and opening the door
Combat will be the other pillar where Narita’s gameplay is supported, and it’s extremely fun. These confrontations are very eventful and if we make mistakes too often, we will die all the time. The system has, as usual in games of this type, a fairly smooth learning curve where different skills will be added bit by bit to give it more variety, like dash or lunge forward. In addition (and without emptying anything), at certain times we will enjoy some special fights on the backs of different mounts which are a delight, and which will surely take a long time to forget. Along with these we will also unlock powers (one per color), which we will activate with the cross and which will help us eliminate fights where we are clearly at a numerical disadvantage.
The other element that makes up Narita’s gameplay are the platform sections, but these unfortunately don’t work as well as they should.. The left joystick will be responsible for our movement, and to perform the jumps we will have to use the jump button at first, but at some point we will use a much more imprecise upward hook. What’s the biggest deal if this looks like pretty normal control for a rig? It does not respond well and ends up being imprecise. In the air we will feel how our character “slides” and if we are not tender with the stick, we will go to certain death several times. Of course, when we play for about an hour, we’ll get used to it and it won’t be an ordeal, but I think they should have tweaked it a bit more.
Narita Boy has a duration very consistent with that of other titles of its genre. A game with a normal rhythm, where we do not die too much and we go very directly to finish it, can last about 6-7 hours.. As I mentioned before, the scenarios have a bit of a labyrinthine layout, and at times in some realms (especially in the 2nd) we can get stuck for a long time if we don’t have a good memory or have dedicated ourselves. to fully explore the map.
In addition, the game has a secret for which you must be vigilant, since to achieve this you have to obtain 5 coins which are lost, since you are not faced with a metroidvania in which you can revisit previous areas at will. . For the rest, a few secret achievements would be the biggest incentive for the replayability of this Narita, although I have to say that for me its duration is perfect, and if you are like me and like to stop to see scenes or scenarios you will not be able to complain about its duration.
At the present time, it is very easy for us to find video games on the market that are very similar to each other, which, without becoming copies of each other, have a lot of things in common. Of course, that doesn’t mean we are faced with bad games, but it makes us appreciate it more every time we get something that wastes the 4-sided originality like this Narita Boy does. The title presents us with a classic adventure, where platforms and combat play a fundamental role and are mixed very well with a technical section that uses the pixel-art with impressive mastery.
This project originated in a Kickstarter campaign where it raised a large sum of money very quickly, a pretty clear indication that the ideas of the study were highly valued by the community. I think where we will see how wonderful Narita Boy is is in its setting and universe, with an original story and that will keep us trapped until we understand what the digital world really is and why the Creator is. acted like He did. As it is logical, the title has a few issues, with control at the time of platforms it seems not to be completely well polished (although you get used to it) and an abuse of the key finder mechanics.
For me, and although we have not yet reached the equator of 2021, we are faced with one of the proper names of the year and I think it will definitely be the best or one of the best games of the year.