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What The Critics Are Saying About Narita Boy

Action platformer Narita Boy, the first game from developer Studio Koba, released on March 30. Based on the response from critics, fans of the '80s aesthetic looking for a healthy dose of combat and storytelling to go with their nostalgia won't want to miss this particular indie gem. "Its 2D sprite work, animations, and soundtrack are among the best I've come across this year," wrote Mitchell Saltzman of IGN, pointing out that Narita Boy had many aspects to love.

While the game does have its downfalls, Rachel Watts from PC Gamer said that "these are small hiccups in an overall streamlined adventure." Narita Boy's story, which unfolds in a "Neo-retro dimension" called The Digital Kingdom, tasks players with restoring the memories of the creator of the dimension in a way that Watts said brought "technology and mythology together to create an interesting world."

For those still debating whether to jump into this Tron-esque cyber fantasy, here's a look at the biggest pros and cons reviewers identified while playing Narita Boy.

Narita Boy's combat is polarizing

Critics seemed conflicted about Narita Boy's combat. IGN's Saltzman wrote that combat "looks more impressive than it actually feels to play," focusing more on picking the right attacks to counter opponents rather than player technique. Saltzman felt this didn't fit the genre of the game, though he didn't think the combat design "is outright bad."

In contrast, Ollie Reynolds of Nintendo Life felt combat is where the game "truly shines." PC Gamer's Watts was split, writing that "slicing and dicing through enemies feels punchy, and there are plenty of ways to take out an enemy without spamming the attack button." While Watts' review didn't focus too much on the combat, it also didn't highlight any major issues.

Essentially, it sounds like combat in Narita Boy has a decent foundation, but players looking for a more punishing Metroidvania experience might find the options a bit shallow.

Overall, Narita Boy satisfies

Critics seemed to agree that Narita Boy perfectly combines the retro aesthetic with a rich storyline. According to Reynolds, the game "never lets [the aesthetic] overshadow the world or its characters." The other reviewers echoed this, complimenting the title endlessly for the narrative enhancing graphics.

While the critics didn't have a bone to pick with the main story, they all loved a particular subplot that takes players through the memories of Lionel, the creator and god-like figure of The Digital Kingdom. Saltzman wrote that "the real meat of [the story] is communicated as you unlock Lionel's memories and play through 13 really well-done flashback sequences that chronicle his life." Even Watts observed that "these flashback moments are quietly reflective and act as a great counterbalance to all the satirical '80s macho power-fantasy present throughout the rest of the game."

Despite the controversial combat, each critic ended their review with the belief that Narita Boy is worth playing.