The big eared, hard punching Sega mascot is back! After more than 2 decades, developer Merge Games took it upon themselves to bring back the original Sega mascot recreated majestically with new graphics, music, stages and more.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World launched originally launched in 1987 for the Sega Master System console to some critical acclaim and spawned a number of sequels, that, unfortunately, didn’t retain the charisma and fun of the original, and with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, Alex was reduced to a couple of appearances in other games and even as a playable character in Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed. That was until now as a group of fervorous fans decided they wanted to develop their own version of Miracle World.
There is now a short, animated introduction as you start your journey, showing Alex in training and the old “a looming evil approaches.” Alex is a martial arts student. After traversing a few stages, you find your master, who is very well, thank you. He tells the protagonist: “You’re Alex Kidd, a member of the royal family of Radaxian, you must save your brother, the prince, and his betrothed, defeat a tyrant hellbent on overtaking the kingdom known as “Janken the Great”, and restore the petrified townsfolk to normal.” That’s a lot, but Alex departs on his journey to save his homeland without thinking twice. There are now more NPCs besides the shopkeeper and secondary characters, like villagers. They can be found scattered throughout stages, each with their own piece of dialogue which adds a bit more life into the game. Even then, the story is still minimalistic as it was originally, being little more than an excuse to get things rolling.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is an action platformer with some adventure elements. You traverse the landscapes of Radaxian, punching enemies with Alex’s oversized hands as big as his ears, all while avoiding traps and destroying yellow shining blocks that contain money that can be used in stores in some stages for items that will help you on your journey. These items can be selected and used on the fly now, which is a welcome addition.
The remake retains almost everything from the original to a fault, which could be a blessing or a curse depending whether you are a new or a returning, long time fan. As varied as the game tries to be with underwater sections, secret passages and the use of vehicles, like a helicopter or a boat; they mostly progress in a very repetitive fashion with the same blocks, pits and enemies placed in the stage that repeat after 3 or 4 screens until you get to the end. It was designed this way, in part, due to the processing and memory limitations of the time, and Jankenteam decided to not mess with the game’s core. You’ll also encounter some weirdly designed obstacles like spikes that can only harm you if you touch its sides. A particular puzzle where you have an item depicting images indicating how to solve it, only to find, after a lot of trial and error, that the developers forgot to change its reading orientation as it’s read in the same way as the Japanese version, from right to left. Maybe I’ll never know if this was left due to an oversight, on purpose or couldn’t be changed due to time constraints.
The enemies you’ll encounter range from little critters such as scorpions, bats, little dragons and a jumping ball whose only features are a pair of eyes and a … mustache. They’ll just wander toward you and can be simply avoided by jumping over them or defeated with a single punch. Alex will die in one hit, even by jumping on top of them; I guess Sega wanted to differentiate Alex Kidd from Super Mario as much as they could. This dynamic of deciding what enemies to kill, blocks to break, obstacles to avoid, and items to use; combined with the fast pace of the stages, can be a lot of fun. As you get better, you’ll simply fly through the stages. You have a limited number of lives, but the game now has infinite continues and your progress will be automatically saved so you can try to tackle it later if you wish.
At the end of some stages, there’ll be a boss. Some boss battles will require you defeat them in a match of JanKenPon (Rock, Paper and Scissors). It’s a battle of trial and error as, initially, you don’t have any way to know what they’ll choose. If you guess wrong two times, you’ll lose a life. This can be very frustrating, as using a continue will send you all the way back to the beginning of the stage without your money and items you collected, as such, they’re more of a hindrance than a proper, fun boss battle. Other lesser bosses will be resolved in a more traditional fashion, that is, punching them to death. These battles were tweaked, adding new patterns to their attacks or modifying the way they’re defeated in some cases. Although minor, these changes are still welcome, especially for returning players.
As with most remakes, we have some new features like new stages. They are implemented in a way that feel like they were always a part of the original game: fast and short. The new additions add much needed longevity to the game. Another neat addition is the inclusion of collectibles apart from the normal items you get: from a Sega master system console to items referencing other Sega games and versions of Alex Kidd. These are scattered throughout the world and can be given by NPCs or even in common blocks. These were specifically included for fans of the original game and Sega, so its references will mostly be lost on new players and can be skipped entirely as they don’t alter any aspect of the overall experience. There’s also an option to enable infinite lives at any point in the game for those who want an easier time or just want to try the game without too much hassle. It will disable some achievements and can’t be reverted unless you start a new save, so choose wisely.
Everything was entirely redone from scratch and now features gorgeous sprite work and animations. The graphics use vibrant colors that go perfectly with the game, bringing the world of Radaxian to life; As soon as the boat stage started I was incapable of not smiling like an idiot, because of how bright and “happy” it looked. Stages now can be at night or during a beautifully animated rainstorm. Jankenteam and Merge Games really put their soul in recreating the visuals for this remake.
The original game already had a charming and catchy soundtrack although very repetitive and with only a few tunes. In the remake, the music was recreated with a higher quality and heavy emphasis on Spanish guitars that goes very well with the game and its “tropical” scenery. The audio is a joy to listen to because the music doesn’t feel repetitive anymore as new tunes were added and old ones were expanded.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a faithful remake of one of the precursors of modern videogames. It was created by fans and is as untouched as they’re able to make, so it won’t be for every fan of the genre who might prefer something more modern. It’s still worthy of being experienced by new or veteran players. It’s not only a piece of videogame history. It’s a fun game on it’s own, if you’re able to overlook some of the more bizarre design choices or the repetitive pacing of the stages. It’s still short, even with the inclusion of new stages, but once you beat the game, you get access to a revamped Master System version and a boss rush. That, along with collectibles and different paths you can take, can prolong its longevity, especially if you want to see everything or are an achievement hunter.
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