Team17 have a habit of producing quirky and social experiences like Worms, Overcooked! and Moving Out, which makes Narita Boy all the more of a surprise. This is a solo saga set in the hard drive of a games console, and it’s grim, dark and brutal.
Narita Boy is out now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Switch and PC. More importantly, it’s ready to play now if you have an Xbox Game Pass subscription.
You’re merrily playing in your room, when the Narita Boy Protocol triggers and you are Last Starfightered/Jumanji’d into the game. As it turns out, there’s an entire Digital Kingdom here, with two factions on either side. You have been ported in by the Hackernauts, led by the Motherboard, who is concerned that HIM – a malignant code – is destroying vast swathes of the Kingdom with his Stallions and the Dimension of Horror at his side.
It’s a rich universe, dense with detail, and a lot of attention has been paid to making it authentically 80s. This is a pixelated retro adventure, although it doesn’t stop Narita Boy from being a joy to the senses, while it has all the chromatic aberration and fish-bowly distortion that you’d have got from your CRT way back when.
In your adventure across the Trichoma to get to HIM, you will be encountering other entities in the code. This will often take the form of fluid combat, similar to Hyperlight Drifter, as your screen will lock and you’ll have to overcome waves of enemies before you can progress. In our review, we found these to be the best bytes of Narita Boy, and there’s plenty of abilities to unlock, as well as a queue of inventive enemies to work through.
There’s a smidge of platforming and puzzling too, but mostly you will be hacking and slashing through a David Cronenberg-like interpretation of Tron, searching for keys to open fancily named doors. We found the technological gobbledygook to be off putting, but loved the combat and world of Narita Boy, so it may be worth a punt, particularly with it nestling on Game Pass immediately at launch.
- Pixel perfectionist – The shining example of a perfectionist at work. Experience the visuals of a retro-era brought to life with hand-drawn animations.
- Explore the mysteries of the Digital Kingdom – Venture up, down, left, and right to discover the darkest depths of the broken binary code in this never-ending story*.
- Max out the Trichroma – Equipped with the only weapon able to defeat the Stallion threat, take the Techno-sword and plunge it into the digital hearts of your enemies. Do not let this empire strike back, be the true blade runner.
- Diehard enemies – Face foes only imagined from your darkest fever-dreams!
- Show those bosses the bytes – Face-off against tons of totally radical and awesome bosses. Become the boss terminator, by overcoming the deadly Crab, DragonBot, Black Rainbow, and so much more!
- Sounds of the retro-grade-times – Feel fresh waves of synth wash over you while travelling the Digital Kingdom. With kickin’ beats that will send you back to the future.
Narita Boy is out now on Xbox Game Pass and to buy on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, starting at £19.99 from the Xbox Store. It’s also out on PS4, PS5, Switch and PC. Let us know if you pick it up.
Flashback to the 80s. The Creator, a genius of his time, creates a video game console called Narita One with its flagship title being a game called Narita Boy. Narita Boy becomes a tremendous hit! Copies of cartridges are flying off physical shelves worldwide. Within weeks Narita Boy is the best-selling video game of all time, critically acclaimed for its power-fantasy wielding the Techno-sword and taking players on a journey like no other. Meanwhile, inside the binaural code the digital realm connects with reality. Him has returned and deleted The Creator’s memories. Supervisor program, Motherboard, and her agents have activated the Narita Boy protocol. The Stallions are coming, and the Digital Kingdom needs a hero.