A Digital Mind-Trip
Narita Boy is a neon-infused love letter to the 80s, with the game finally surfacing once again after missing its projected release date. Back in 2017 Narita Boy had a successful Kickstarter where it earned €160,946, but it failed to meet many of the stretch goals set in place. Studio Koba and Narita Boy apparently caught the eye of Team 17, developers of Worms and Overcooked, who’s now helping to publish the title. With the help of Team 17, the game is now coming to PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, as well as PC.
Narita Boy wears its inspirations on its sleeves, as the game’s cover art is a one-to-one reference to a poster for the original Tron. On top of that, the game’s overall narrative takes a page from Tron’s book. As seen in the trailer, a genius programmer creates a video game console called the Narita One, with its flagship title being Narita Boy. At some point, the digital world connects itself to reality, and players have to explore the Digital Kingdom. The visuals sport clear references to the 80s, like an in-game demake of Narita Boy, or a scene showing a massive building that looks to be a hollowed-out CRT television. Studio Koba’s description of the story sounds like the perfect kind of nonsense, “Meanwhile, inside the binary 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.”
While exploring the 2D side-scrolling Digital Kingdom you’ll wield a weapon known as the Techno Sword, as well as an assortment of different magic spells. Narita Boy’s soundtrack sounds like it was ripped right out of a retro game, with music made up of analog synthesizers. There’s even a wonderfully cheesy theme song called “Saving the World” that can be heard on Team17’s Spotify playlist.
Studio Koba was founded in 2016, and Narita Boy is the first title from the studio. Looking at the latest Kickstarted update, Koba is clear that 80s arcade machines have been a huge influence on them, as well as on gaming at large. To coincide with that, Team 17 has announced an initiative called Saving The Arcade World. It’s a project to help the preservation of arcade cabinets and arcade culture. Through multiple fundraising efforts Team 17 will donate money to The Strong National Museum of Play, The National Video Game Museum, and the Vintage: Museo del Videojuego in Spain. One way they’re doing so is by putting the Narita Boy soundtrack on Spotify and other music retailers, with all proceeds from sales being donated. More information can be seen on Team17’s website, for anyone interested. Video game preservation is an evolving issue in the industry, especially as technology, like arcade cabinets, begin to age and decay.
Narita Boy has a demo featured during the Steam Game Festival, but it will vanish come February 9. There’s currently no firm release date outside of a Spring 2021 window.