When I decided to create Narita boy, I knew this had to be the game I wanted to play, not the game I thought thousands of people would like. I don’t know them and they don’t know me. Narita boy was to be a tribute to my childhood. I realized that my love for the retro aesthetic came from the emotional connection I had with arcade games in the late 1980s. I had forgotten a lot throughout my life, but the smell of frying and the sounds of arcade machines stuck with me.
I realized that if I could connect with this place in the past where everything was great and there were no issues, I could connect with future players from Narita boy – past, present and future. So, Narita boythe world is born!
The next thing I did was explore the cultural references from my youth and understand what my connection was to each one – for example, He-man and how the sword turns an ordinary man into a mighty hero. Okay, a legendary sword, noted. Another example, “The Last Starfighter”, where a boy who lived in a van is recruited by aliens because of his abilities as a player. Another note, the possibility of playing a video game. One extraordinary element could completely change the life of an ordinary man and that was a common feature in my cultural references. Looking at all of these, I created the foundation for Narita boy.
And the aesthetics? They were born out of love and out of necessity. I decided to develop the game in pixel art because I love pixel art, and it is easier and faster to create a background in 521 × 293 pixels than in HD. Plus, the ’80s and’ 90s were the golden age of pixel art, so what I loved and the best in production and aesthetics converged.
Besides pixel art, the game needed its own aesthetic, which for me has to play a role in explaining the story. Then I thought, I like several game franchises like Sword and witchcraft and the retro aesthetic, so these are references that I could mix. So I decided that my game should be self-referential – it finds the sense of aesthetics on its own.
Then I decided that my hero needed an almighty sword, and I don’t know why, but I drew it in three colors – the three primary colors. What if these three colors were the life force of the planet? There would be three different races and I could design three cards with a predominant color in each of them. I discovered that I could use my passion for color and color theory to structure my story, and therefore an accidental decision was a key factor in creating the game universe.
Now that I had all three colors and races, I wondered, what exactly is the Digital Kingdom? After thinking about it, I understood the Digital Kingdom as a land in a computer (thank you, “Tron!”). The computer is a rectangle, so these in-game proportions would make the Digital Kingdom an expression of Narita One, the computer that creates this world. With that premise, all of the storylines and characters blossomed, and everything was cohesive and robust.
There is a more subtle layer, however. What I explained is the formal aesthetic, which you can see, but I also wanted to create an intangible aesthetic layer. This is where my love for Japanese aesthetics comes in, and the way nature and architecture coexist. I also remembered the strange feeling I had while reading a Japanese horror tale, in which the beautiful and the bizarre coexist, not in a tangible way but rather as an aftertaste.
Thinking of that aftertaste, I realized that I needed Narita boy be like waking up after a feverish dream. I wanted the aesthetic to immerse you in the game and stay in your memory. For this last challenge, I was inspired by a few works of art where the strangeness of the aesthetic literally blew me away. I’m talking about Beyond the Black Rainbow by Panos Cosmatos, some short films by Velasco Broca, Chrono Crimes by Nacho Vigalondo and many others. I wanted to create an aesthetic that takes you to awkward places in your subconscious. All of these performers leave parts of the story unexplained, allowing your imagination to fill them with your own fears and phobias, and for me it is essential that a game works at the emotional level of the player.
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 huge hit! Copies of cartridges are flying off physical shelves around the world. In just a few weeks, Narita Boy is the best-selling video game of all time, critically acclaimed for its fantastic power, wielding the techno-sword and taking gamers on a journey like no other. Meanwhile, inside the binaural code, the digital realm connects to reality. He came back and erased the memories of the Creator. The Supervisor program, Motherboard and its agents have activated the Narita Boy protocol. The stallions are coming and the digital kingdom needs a hero. The game Become symphonic in Narita Boy! A radical action-adventure as a legendary pixel hero trapped as a mere echo in the digital realm. Uncover the mysteries behind the techno-sword, lock the swords with the corrupt and contaminated stallions. Save the world! Pixel Perfectionist – The shining example of a perfectionist at work. Discover the visuals of a retro era animated by hand-drawn animations. Explore the Mysteries of the Digital Realm – Venture up, down, left, and right to uncover the darkest depths of shattered binary code in this never-ending story *. Max out the Trichroma – Equipped with the only weapon capable of defeating the Stallion menace, grab the Techno sword and plunge it into the digital hearts of your enemies. Don’t let this empire strike back, be the real blade runner. Die-hard Enemies – Face off against enemies imagined only from your darkest fever dreams! Show Those Bosses Bytes – Face off against tons of totally radical and awesome bosses. Become the boss terminator by overcoming the Deadly Crab, DragonBot, Black Rainbow and more! Sounds of the Retro Era – Feel new waves of synths wash over you as you roam the digital realm. With rhythms that will send you back to the future. * there is an end to the story.