Ok, so before this review is finished and you bother to turn the game on, just go ahead and mute the sound. All done? Good. Alex Kidd in Miracle World, originally a Sega Master Drive release (back in 1986 of all years), has been re-released as part of Sega’s Vintage Collection. This vintage collection of titles spans a multitude of years across a variety of classic Sega consoles. Alex Kidd returns to the modern age again with some new updates to the classic that gives it some much needed new life.
Gamers spend the game as the titular Alex Kidd, a master of “Shellcore” (the ability make your fists larger and punch through rocks) who is on a quest to save the city of Radaxian from the evil emperor Janken. While the in-game manual buries that fairly quick rundown of the game in the middle of it, there is actually much more at stake. Thrust into the hero role, Alex must save the kingdom and in the process he learns of his connection to the royal bloodline and that his brother, Prince Egle, is in dire straights after being kidnapped by Janken. It’s up to Alex to set out on a near world-spanning adventure to fix the evil that has befallen the kingdom.
Alex Kidd came out around the same time of the original Super Mario Bros. and during the height of the early side-scrolling genre, and as such plays similarly to it in many regards. Jumping around and punching blocks, Alex Kidd controls exactly like a platformer should. Alex also has the ability to buy objects from stores after collecting enough Baums – that’s the name of the currency – from the money bags around the map. He can also punch the crap out of anything be it rocks, blocks, or enemies standing in his way. The other essential ability besides jumping, punching is also important because of the item blocks that can be broken open to gather more Baums or find items; careful with this though! Some blocks will contain ghosts (there are ones you can even step on to release them) and these ghosts will kill Alex instantly. Then again, everything kills Alex instantly by simply touching him.
Certain levels have a vehicle section where Alex will get to either drive a motorcycle through enemies and objects, others will have him flying around in a Petit-Copter (a pedal-powered machine), or even dashing along in a boat equipped with missiles. These are fun little sections to play, but the vehicles can only take so much damage before being destroyed. It’s not a bad thing if they are lost as players can continue on on foot. It’s just more of a hassle having to dodge around the enemies and missing out on some of the loot.
Being a classic side-scrolling platformer, the game has some definite challenge to it. It’s got one hit kills, crazy enemies, and a ghost/Death that will chase you around likeGauntlet Legends until you drop dead. It can be tough. There is one absolutely ridiculous gameplay aspect as well: Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS), or “Jan-Ken-Pon” in Japanese. You’ll take on the bosses in a high profile deathmatch of RPS the ends in either your death out their defeat. It’s actually somewhat anti-climatic after getting through the levels and having them end in a disappointing mini-game.
Being part of the Sega Vintage Collection, they have also added on a series of challenges for players to compete against each other and see how they stack up online. There are three challenges for this mode like the other titles in the Classic Collection as well. Wealth Challenge where the point is the rack up as much money as possible as you clear the stages, but dying will set you back monetarily each time. Copter Challenge is a time trial forcing players to make it through a level as fast as possible without dying once. The last trial is to defeat Janken the Great in another time trial, but first players must make it through his fortress. This last trial may take players a few times to master as his fortress is a confusing maze as it twists and turns on itself. Other than that, these trials are a fun addition to the game and breathe in some new and much needed life.
Graphically this game is what I would expect from a title that is older than me. The Sega Master Drive was an 8-bit system much like the NES, though it was slightly more powerful. It’s got the classic pixelated characters and enemies, the backgrounds are vivid, and it bears a striking resemblance to Mario’s world in a multitude of ways. Boiling it down though – it looks fun! My issue on the technical side is the music which drove me bonkers within an hour. It’s repetitive and now I see why some parents complained about that “repetitive blaring noise” coming from the speakers back in the day. I had to finally mute the game to continue playing. If not for the music, the other sound effects are neat and enjoyable at least, but it’s just that music…
Regardless of the sounds and music coming from the game, it is at least fun. But the market just isn’t there for it today. Platforming has become a major adventure allowing players the full use of a 3D environment or crazy weapons like Ratchet & Clank. Alex Kidd, being the era and system that it’s from, cannot stand against today’s gaming market. It might be fun for those that are nostalgic for the days when games and systems were much more simple, but for today’s gamers that are potentially the target group, it’s just not going to be enough for them.Note: Alex Kidd in Miracle World was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.