Alex Kidd in Miracle World is such an important title in gaming history that it came pre-installed on some Sega Master Systems. It was going head to head with the success of Super Mario Bros. in an attempt to bring the Nintendo empire down to its knees; crippled and unsuccessful when compared to the might of Sega.
I kid. Hah, punny. I jest. Alex Kidd was up against Mario but its place in history has fallen somewhat, largely thanks to Sega's other mascot-lead attempts to dethrone Nintendo. Still, Sonic isn't a thing yet, and we're going to see what Alex Kidd offers to the platform genre.
Is it better than Mario?
You're kidding, right? Alex Kidd is a tricky fella to get to grips with. I was dying over and over, my score inching from 400 points to 600 points to 1000 points as I bumbled my way through to the bottom of the first section of the first level.
You've got a wicked punch, and it's your only attack so you best get smashing blocks and bad guys to bits in order to increase your score and make some progress through the levels. The breakable blocks are part obstacle, part puzzle, as you try to work out the right order to destroy them and still be able to get whatever is inside, or else be able to navigate through the stage.
The controls are simple enough but wrestling with the physics can be problematic, especially if you're also trying to get to grips with smashing things in the right order. Still, the game doesn't appear to be that taxing... unless you're talking about the music. You will either love or hate it. I hate it.
The graphics are nice and jolly looking though. By that I mean they're bright and colourful, and you can't fail to see what's what. They, like Mario, have a style of their own which is 'Saturation: +100%'. Other than that they're basic, and allow you to focus on the gameplay, which is your standard platform affair.
Enemies of all kinds scatter the stages and prize blocks are hidden away - with invisible triggers in some cases revealing invisible blocks that you can use to reach them. Collect as many as you can to be able to purchase items in a mid-level shop to help you on your journey. You can buy motorbikes and helicopters to get you through levels quicker, or other items which can aide in dealing with some end of level bosses, including a bull and a blue bear with a sword. Obviously.
There is a loose plot here too, though I forget most of it - even when I'm watching a playthrough right now. Janken, whomever he is, is a bad guy, and has three henchmen who will only let your pass if you beat them in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. For some reason their heads are shaped like one of the three throws, and if you know the secret you can even see their thoughts, allowing you to better guess which to throw yourself.
Stage themes are varied, though the music and sound effects still don't sit well with me wherever Alex Kidd takes me.
Where is Alex Kidd even taking me? I know I found it a bit of a challenge early on, and it looks to add to that challenge further in later levels, but where does it all lead? I get the impression, even when watching, that it's a game made of padding.
I probably shouldn't say that - just because I'm a dunce at following along with the plot, that doesn't mean there isn't one. Just because the graphics look a bit silly, that doesn't mean they're any sillier than those in Mario - though the saturation doesn't help Alex Kidd's case one bit. It's not a game of padding, it's just a game I'm not all that into.
Was it because I grew up with Mario in some form or another? Was it because I got off to a bad start in Alex Kidd and never recovered - never wanted to recover? All I know for sure is that while I can see Alex Kidd in Miracle World being a neat little time filler, I can't see it being my neat little time filler.
Play it for yourselves and see what you think. It's not terrible by any means.
There was no saving system, whether playing via cartridge or through the BIOS - not even a password system. With one hit deaths this meant a frustrating time for Alex Kidd players, unless they knew of an undocumented feature that allowed them to continue from the start of the level. No, I don't have a clue what it is, sorry.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World, developed by Sega, first released in 1986.
Version played: SMS, 1987, via emulation.
Version watched: SMS, 1986 (World of Longplays)