Sega obviously has no shame in plugging its own products. The plot of Alex Kidd: High Tech World is to guide Alex to an arcade called High Tech World, named after their own real-life chain, to play the latest Sega games.
This game, the third released in North America and Europe, is again entirely different from its predecessors, being half puzzle-solving adventure and half action. It’s also very odd, given that events take place in a Japanese-style castle, featuring a totally different cast of characters (besides Alex) from before.
Throughout the whole game you’re also on a time limit – if you don’t reach High Tech World by 17:00, you lose. Alex spends the first level exploring the castle, following vague clues to find eight map pieces. There is absolutely no action in these segments, as you cannot jump or attack, and can only walk around the castle, exploring the rooms and solving puzzles. Some of the map pieces are easy to find, while others require obtuse solutions. At one point you need to take a test given by your tutor, who quizzes you about the levels in Space Harrier, along with history and math questions. Another map piece requires that you pay attention to the in-game clock and visit specific rooms at specific times.
Although there are no enemies in the castle, per say, there are a number of incredibly stupid ways to end the game. If you try on a cool looking piece of armor, you’ll become immobilized and lose. One map piece you find is burnt – if you grab it without first spraying on some “restorer powder“, it’ll crumble and, again, the game will end. There’s one particular set of stairs that looks innocuous, but if you walk down you quickly discover that it’s broken, so you’ll fall and, once again, game over. Although there are passwords, they only save progress between the four major areas, so if you perish in the first castle segment – by far the longest part of the game – you need to restart the whole thing.
The second level is a very poorly implemented action scene. Ninjas pop up everywhere and you need to defend yourself with throwing stars. A single hit will kill you, but at least this segment is short. Also useful are gold coins found throughout, which are used in the next area.
The third level is an adventure scene similar to the first area, except much shorter. The ultimate goal is to get past the gate guard and leave the town. There are three ways to accomplish this – either run a few errands to raise enough money to bribe the guard; pray at a temple 100 times (!!) to get a travel pass, which takes several minutes and is a very aggravating solution; or simply happen to be at the right place at the right time for a random citizen to lend you their pass. Though there are many shops and many people to talk to, they are mostly pointless.
The game over sequences here are even more hilarious than in the castle. You can actually find a weapon in town, only to get arrested as a criminal if you try to leave. You can try to forge a travel pass but get busted for counterfeiting. Or most brilliantly, you can eat too many hot dogs and become “dizzy“.Once you’ve finished up all of that, you’re in for another ninja-filled action stage, which is just as bad as the previous one, except this has some annoying snake and tanuki enemies.
Although it’s cool that Sega tried to blend genres with this entry, both segments are so poorly done that it’s disappointing.
There’s a reason why this is so completely different (and terrible) compared to the others – it wasn’t originally an Alex Kidd game. In Japan, it’s known as Anmitsu Hime, and is based on a mid-1980s anime, which in turn was based on a manga dating back to 1949, about a tomboy princess in feudal Japan. This makes sense, given that the castle and town levels are distinctly Japanese, as are all of the secondary characters.
Instead of adventuring to find an arcade, Anmitsu is trying to visit a new bakery. All of the sprites have been replaced in Alex Kidd: High Tech World, and some dialogue rewritten, though the attempts to westernize it are sloppy at best. The ramen stall from Anmitsu Hime has been changed to a hotdog stall, while the samurai sword is now the gun Alex can find. Despite these changes, High Tech World still has signs which were left in Japanese. Apart from these changes, the games are otherwise identical.