Sega is a company I was always intrigued in, especially in my childhood thanks to the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog. Now some people might hate Sega for making such stupid decisions over the years, even today. I for one do not hate Sega; I am however, disappointed. Anyway, before there was a Sonic, there was Alex Kidd. Now the first time I knew about him was Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, a game built into a plug and play Sega Mega Drive, I will talk about that game next week.
Alex Kidd is an interesting character, though game-wise, I’m not sure. I mean he was created to compete with Mario…it didn’t work. But to many people who live in Europe, Brazil and Australia, he was a hero of the Sega Master System, the main man, whilst not as big as Sonic would eventually be, he was pretty much the mascot of the Sega Master System. So why not take a trip with me into the few of Alex’s games, six to be more precise, starting with:
Alex Kidd in Miracle World (アレックスキッドのミラクルワールド Arekkusu Kiddo no Mirakuru Wārudo), developed and published by Sega and was released in 1986 in Japan and in 1987 in the US and Europe. This game is well-known for being one of the built-in games for the Sega Master System, but because of this, the actual physical copy of this game is very expensive to get.
Alex Kidd lives in the Planet Aries where he has been studying the Shellcore technique, which allows one to break rocks using their expanded fists. Alex eventually leaves to go back to his hometown until a dying man tells him that the city of Radaxian is in trouble. Apparently, Janken The Great, ruler over the planet Janbarik, somehow defeated King Thunder of Radaxian, leading to the King’s disappearance. Janken turns the residents of Radaxian into stone, then kidnaps Prince Egle and his soon to be wedded Princess Lora. So Alex, along with a medallion and a map, sets out on an adventure to defeat Janken, along with discovering some truths. So already this plot is much more in-depth than Mario, as in there’s much more to it, but this was the first time I read the plot because you get nothing in this game.
So the game is a platformer. You play as Alex Kidd as you go through 17 levels, each of them with many different challenges in terms of platforming and puzzle solving. You run, jump but you can punch, you can punch enemies and rocks, though he can’t punch blue rocks. There are many blocks throughout the game, with most of them containing money, which you can use to buy items like vehicles to progress a little easier in a level. Though some boxes can contain special items that can help you, like invincibility or ability to fly for a short period of time. But some boxes may contain an evil spirit that wants Alex dead, you can either run away before he moves to the point where he’s off-screen…or you can die.
So what do I think of this game? Underwhelming. And the reason for this is because the controlling Alex isn’t always fun, he’s incredibly slippery and it’s so difficult to be accurate when in the tightest of platforming, making his momentum a bit wonky at times.
The graphics are pretty good, much more detailed than even Super Mario Bros., but the level design is pretty basic and not too interesting. The music is nice and simple, Alex’s main theme is quite catchy and I love it, even the underwater music is nice to listen to as well, though the other tracks don’t have that same fell to me.
Overall, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is average at best, I didn’t enjoy it that much, it’s pretty difficult for those first-timers, the controls are wonky but it’s not impossible, but for a Master System game competing with Mario, it’s decent enough, though Mario wins for smooth and near perfect gameplay.
You can get it on the Sega Master System, Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.
Next up is Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (アレックスキッド ザ・ロストスターズ Arekkusu Kiddo Ze Rosuto Sutāzu), developed and published by Sega and was released in 1986 in the Arcades and in 1988 for the Sega Master System. I will take a look at both versions.
So in the arcade port, you play as Alex Kidd or his new counterpart Stella as player 2 as you run, jump and collect miracle balls to take to outer space and…zodiac signs are involved, I don’t know.
The gameplay is simple but for an arcade game, it’s not that good at all. I mean you can jump over enemies and dodge obstacles but you will get hit ALL THE TIME and Alex will scream in pain as he gets hit and you will constantly hear it. As for the game being boring, it gets dull enough even after the second playthrough…oh, did I tell you that this game takes the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins approach and makes you play through the seven levels a second time? Great, I just LOOOOOVE arcade games…except for the ones where they take the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins approach.
On the bright side, there are many references to other Sega games like Fantasy Zone, Monster World and even Alien Syndrome.
The graphics are fantastic, very beautiful, but what else do you expect from an arcade Sega game. The level design is beyond basic but there are many moments where death is near unavoidable, enemy placements are so blatantly placed where it’s hard to dodge and controlling Alex Kidd is OK until you go to Water World and his controls suck.
The Sega Master System is near enough the same, but you have infinite lives but you have a timer, every time you get hit, you lose time, lose all the time and you start from the beginning of the level you died in.
Overall, Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is bland but difficult, it’s not too bad but it’s yet another game that I didn’t have fun with, though it makes me appreciate Miracle World a little bit more.
You can get it on the Arcade and the Sega Master System.
Next up is Alex Kidd in High Tech World, developed and published by Sega and was released in 1987 in Japan and in 1989 in the US and Europe.
And once again the gameplay changes, complete puzzles for your family to get eight pieces of paper that forms a map, then go to town, but not before being attacked by Ninjas in the forest. When you get to town, you need to get to the next forest and more enemies will attack and remember…ONE HIT DEATH!!! When you eventually get to the arcade, known as High Tech World, you can see Alex playing Outrun in the biggest whoring out since Valis, and that was a completely shameful whore out.
This game is awful, considering that you have to solve puzzles in the first part to get pieces of the map and if you do one false move, it’s game over and you have to go all the way back to the beginning, but the game doesn’t tell you anything about what to do, meaning it will take time to figure it all out, also, you have to use the clock to solve specific puzzles or talk to people, WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO A PLAYER? When you do eventually form a map, you go to the forest where ninjas will attack you and you die from getting hit by the ninja’s shurikens. Thankfully though, you can continue from the forest but it’s still difficult to get through.
And then there is the time puzzle in the first town where you have to get a pass, but you may not have any money when you get there so you have to buy a specific item if you have enough money and sell it to get more money, which is easy enough, but you still may not have enough money, so you have to wait until 2pm game time to go to a burger shop and because you’re a special customer, you get some money. This can take AGES, it’s a game that works against the player, it’s like Takeshi’s Challenge but at least tolerable to be honest.
The graphics and level design are pretty good but it all feels very Japanese. BUT, there is a reason for this. You see, in Japan, it wasn’t an Alex Kidd game, it was in fact a game called Anmitsu Hime, based of an 80’s manga/anime about a princess. Because nobody outside Japan knew about the manga/anime, some sprites were changed and the princess was replaced by Alex Kidd. The music is OK but nothing to catchy or memorable.
Overall, this game is terrible, it’s an endurance test to see if you can put up with it’s utter nonsense. It’s the worst kind of trial and error games that you need to avoid and the sort Sega Master System game ever made since Alf, and that was a horrible game.
You can get it on the Sega Master System.
Next Time: I take a look at the final three games, Alex Kidd BMX Trial, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle and Alex Kidd in Shinobi World.
Feel free to take a look at my Facebook page, where you’ll find review posts, my art work and maybe some other random bits and bobs.
You can also take a look at my Twitter page, if you like tweeting too.
UPDATE: I accidentally uploaded Part 2 when it was supposed to be uploaded next week, so if you want to see it, here’s a link.