Narita Boy Review – IGN

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Narita Boy left me conflicted like few different video games have earlier than. Its jaw-dropping neo-retro 2D aesthetic continually treats your eyes to stunning ‘80s themed backdrops, wildly imaginative character designs, and wonderfully fluid animations while a truly excellent synth-wave soundtrack perfectly underscores not only the action, and the emotional moments of its story are surprisingly poignant as well. But as far as actually playing it is concerned, Narita Boy is at best serviceable, with hollow exploration filled with constant backtracking, simple puzzles, and combat that never really evolves in ways that make tougher enemies any more fun to fight. And at its worst moments… well, let’s simply say that fortunately it’s solely at its worst for a fraction of its six or seven-hour size, as a result of in any other case I’d want a complete lot extra aspirin.

You play as a younger boy who instantly will get dragged right into a digital world after its creator, a genius {hardware} and software program developer named Lionel Pearl, will get his reminiscences stolen by a bug generally known as HIM. The boy assumes the function of the titular hero, “Narita Boy,” and units out on an journey to revive Lionel’s reminiscences, defeat HIM, and save the digital world. However, that could be a enormous oversimplification of Narita Boy’s exhausting-to-observe overarching plot, which is slowed down with technical jargon and boring exposition dumps.

Fortunately although, that setup just isn’t the principle attraction of Narita Boy’s story. The actual meat of it’s communicated as you unlock Lionel’s reminiscences and play by 13 very well-completed flashback sequences that chronicle his life all the way in which from childhood to the current. Each time I unlocked one it felt like a present I couldn’t wait to unwrap: these chew-sized story sequences are simply the highpoint of Narita Boy as a complete, as Lionel’s story is an emotional one to look at unfold, with fantastic music field-like tunes adeptly setting the tone. What’s particularly neat about them is the way in which they assist carry higher understanding to the digital world that you just’re taking part in by. They tie collectively the digital and bodily worlds in a manner that’s somewhat intelligent.


As far as fight goes, Narita Boy appears to be like extra spectacular than it truly feels to play. There are some actually nice animations, hits are impactful, and the way in which enemies die is tremendous satisfying to have a look at – however the massive downside is that, on the outset, there actually isn’t a lot to your arsenal of strikes exterior of a fundamental three-hit sword combo, shut-vary shotgun blast, and highly effective beam assault. That’s an alright base, however not one of the talents that you just acquire as you progress ever make participating with fight any extra enjoyable.

Rather than altering the way in which you method a struggle to maintain issues contemporary, the methods you unlock are extra designed round providing you with a approach to take care of a particular new enemy sort. For instance, there’s a shoulder bash that’s solely actually used on one shielded enemy sort, and an uppercut that’s primarily simply used to hit the few enemies that fly. That makes them really feel extra like keys than precise methods, solely for use if you see the correct enemy-formed lock. As a end result, fight will get stale early on and stays that manner.

Combat will get stale early on and stays that manner

The one exception to this stagnancy is a dashing thrust assault that really suits properly into Narita Boy’s repertoire of strikes as a approach to hit a bunch of enemies in a row, along with with the ability to take away armor from a particular enemy. Of course, it’s one of many final methods that you just get, so I didn’t have a lot time to actually get pleasure from utilizing it in fight.

And whereas there are a formidable variety of enemy varieties all through Narita Boy, they’re virtually all disappointingly easy, with a single assault and a single manner so that you can keep away from that assault. Eventually you acquire the power to make use of a Wildfire energy up and may toggle between purple, blue, and yellow auras, which makes you deal and take extra injury towards enemies of the identical coloration. But whereas it’s nice to have an additional layer to consider in fight to interrupt the routine of all of it, it fails to make fights any extra enjoyable because you just about simply kill enemies in a single hit if you’re matched with their coloration.

None of which means that fight in Narita Boy is outright dangerous, and I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that it’s shallow, as a result of the enemies do require that you just study their patterns, so simple as they’re. It simply by no means rises above that baseline stage of what fight ought to be in an motion platformer like this, leaving it considerably amusing however comparatively one-observe the entire manner by when in comparison with evolving video games like Ori or Guacamelee.

Platforming and exploration observe the identical path limped alongside by Narita Boy’s fight: they by no means actually cross that threshold of being something higher than simply “fine” on a elementary stage. The world of Narita Boy could also be completely beautiful to have a look at, with visually spectacular backdrops all through every of its three main coloration-coded zones, however I finally grew numb to them; operating forwards and backwards between them over and over, choosing up and delivering keys whereas attempting to maintain monitor of which of them are for which locks with none kind of map drains them of their novelty after some time.

At Its Worst

Each space of Narita Boy is capped off with an enormous occasion to transition into the subsequent one, and normally these are among the many highpoints of the entire marketing campaign. Surfing on a floppy disc and transitioning from skidding alongside the water’s floor to leaping again onto strong floor is nice enjoyable, as is the ability fantasy of remodeling into an enormous robotic and totally smashing every little thing in your manner. But there’s one transition in Narita Boy that I want to speak about intimately, as a result of it’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to rage-quitting a sport that I used to be assigned to assessment.

Upon clearing the Yellow House space it’s important to journey on a stag in a really acquainted speeder bike-esque part that you just’ve most likely seen 100 occasions in different video games – suppose Bit.Trip Runner’s aspect-scrolling impediment dodging, simply with out the rhythm factor. But right here you’re transferring extraordinarily quick and the obstacles that that you must leap over are just a bit too exhausting to see. Even extra irritating is that with a purpose to keep away from taking injury from sure enemies, it’s important to increase by them. The downside is that if you increase you progress so quick, and it pushes you to date to the correct aspect of the display screen, that it turns into virtually not possible to react to no matter is coming subsequent.

The result’s a two-minute-lengthy blurry impediment course that largely comes right down to memorization, very similar to that notorious Battletoads stage just about everybody has hated since 1991. But whereas Battletoads has that hardcore attraction of being a troublesome sport all through, Narita Boy is in any other case a very simple sport, and this terrible stage comes out of completely nowhere. It’s made worse by the truth that the mechanic meant for providing you with well being again, which is boosting by a string of enemies, typically doesn’t work and has you continue to taking injury for seemingly no purpose, even throughout an element that appears explicitly designed to allow you to heal. It’s headache-inducing, it doesn’t work as supposed, and it virtually utterly ruined Narita Boy as a complete for me – however fortunately this quick part can be the one second prefer it.

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