Remember Mario? Sure you do, that guy’s been a winner for basically his whole career. How about Sonic the Hedgehog? He stumbled a bit there in the mid-2000s, but the blue blur has found his stride again, even landing a new gig as a movie star. Crash Bandicoot’s basically a household name, especially after that rock-solid fourth game last year. And Alex Kidd? Well…Sega’s original attempt at a mascot hasn’t aged quite as well. Sonic ate his lunch, and Alex Kidd loves lunch, so he went off to sulk for a while.
Fortunately, with Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, a complete overhaul of the original 1986 Master System classic, we’ve got a second chance to see Alex in action.
Plot? I guess there’s one! Alex Kidd’s a martial artist trained in the Shellcore style of block-breaking punches. One day he finds that all of his friends and the local villagers have been turned to stone. It turns out that the villainous Janken the Great is up to no good, and it’s Alex’s job to solve the problem via block-busting and baddie-bashing. Shakespeare it ain’t, but it works.
Alex Kidd is a classic platformer, and this DX version nails the most critical part of that old-game feel: it’s tough. Really tough. Tough as nails, in fact. Alex, for all his martial arts training, can barely punch further than his face and dies in a single hit. You have to close in with enemies to try and damage them, but doing so runs the risk of taking that single, lethal blow that’ll send Alex to the great onigiri stand in the sky.
Combine that with the game’s retro-authentic cruelty – marvel as some blocks yield a deadly monster rather than treasure when opened! – and you’ve got a recipe for having your butt kicked. Oh, and let’s not even talk about the rock-paper-scissors boss fights. Power-ups are available and you can shop for goodies using money you find by defeating monsters and breaking those blocks that don’t contain murderous beasts, but that’s the only advantage you’ve got. By default you only have a few lives to get through each level, so you’re going to need to put your 1980s hat on to make it.
That’s what you came for, though, right? You wanted classic and this game’s here to give you classic. You can even switch back to the original Alex Kidd graphics with the push of a button a la the recent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, which is a pretty fantastic way of comparing the new style to the old. Speaking of new, there’s dialogue now! It’s…not fantastic, but it’s there. The game probably could have used a second or third editing pass, but then the testers would have had to get through it again and that’s a big ask.
On the other hand, there’s now a feature to switch between having Alex eat onigiri, hamburgers and more, so what’s to complain about?
That new presentation really suits Alex Kidd’s style, by the way. It’s a delightful cartoon look that pops off the screen – though it’s completely understandable if some players want to play solely with the original 8-bit graphics. Thankfully, you can alternate between the two on-the-fly so you don’t have to choose just one. The game plays like a dream as well, difficulty notwithstanding, so classic game fans should love it.
The only real complaint is the aforementioned dialogue being a little bit awkward, but that’s easy enough to ignore so you can focus on distributing knuckle sandwiches.
This is retro gaming at its finest, so if you’re in the mood for a classic 8-bit platformer you can’t go wrong with this beautiful remaster. Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX hits pretty much all the right notes, minus the goofy dialogue. We’ve seen a few underappreciated Master System classics get the proper revival treatment lately and it’s great to see Alex Kidd back on the screen again. Grab that Power Bracelet and get ready to stuff some yummy rice balls down your gullet.