Logo by MP83

Articles | Features | Blog | Forums | Writers Wanted

<<< Prior Page    

    Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Introduction
Alex Kidd in Miracle World
Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
Alex Kidd: High Tech World/Anmitsu Hime

Page 2:
Alex Kidd BMX Trial
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World

Back to the Index

By Kurt Kalata, last updated 6/2/12

Sega was a rather pitiable entity back in the Master System. They had no market share, their advertising was complete garbage, and everyone was busy neglecting homework to play Nintendo instead. Unfortunately, part of this reputation was rather deserved, because most Master System games were utter rubbish - it's the only platform known to man that housed a game based off "Alf". But those who stuck with the underdog found solace in a few key franchises. One of these was Alex Kidd, the closest Sega came to having a Mario-style mascot (at least, until Sonic showed up, but that wasn't until years later.) Sega credits Alex Kidd to an individual name Osahru (Ossale) Kohta, although that's actually a pseudonym for Kotaro Hayashida, who also worked as a scenario writer for Phantasy Star and the Phantasy Star II Text Adventure games, as well as other Master System titles like Pit-Pot, Woody Pop, Pro Wrestling, Zillion, and Fantasy Zone.

Alex Kidd's most prominent features are his large ears, red jumpsuit and gigantically enormous sideburns. Although he looked appealingly cutesy in the original Japanese artwork, all of the Western boxes seemed fit to make him look like an obnoxious fat freckled third grader, which probably played a bit role in dooming Alex to obscurity. Regardless, Alex is the prince of the planet Aries, and it's his job to protect the Radaxian people and do the usual good guy thing. Though there are six Alex Kidd games, they're almost all entirely different from each other - only the first (Miracle World) and fourth (Enchanted Castle) share similar gameplay.

Miracle World

Shinobi World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World ( アレックスキッドのミラクルワールド) - Sega Master System / Wii / Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 (1986)

American SMS Cover

Japanese Mark III Cover


Board Game

Alex Kidd is often compared to Mario, since he was the competitor's only mascot at the time, but their games couldn't be more differant. While Nintendo's game is a straight-up platformer that could feel right at home in the arcades, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a much more ambitious game. Whereas Mario was simply about running from left to right, jumping over things and occasionally looking out for secret stuff, Miracle World feels like a much fuller adventure.

For starters, it breaks free from the repetitive four-level cycle for a much more organic experience. Most levels scroll horizontally, as is typical, but a handful scroll vertically downwards, and the few castle stages actually flip-scroll in all four directions. Throughout the adventure, you play through mountains, forests, oceans, towns and other varied locales. A map screen at the beginning of each stage and on the pause screen shows your progress through the game's seventeen levels.

Alex's trademark power is the ability to break rocks with his enormous fists (dubbed the "Shellcore" technique). There are many "star" blocks spread throughout each stage, most of which contain bags of money. Cash is not merely for extra lives, but instead acts as actual currency to buy stuff. These allow you to buy a variety of power-ups, found at shops littered throughout each stage. Certain blocks marked with question marks, also give specific items, one of the most important being a bracelet that lets you shoot power waves. This is extremely useful, because Alex's punches are extremely short ranged, leaving him susceptible to danger. However, these same blocks can also spawn deadly magicians, who ruthlessly hunt down Alex unless he can outwit them. Several stages also allow you to purchase vehicles to make life a bit easier. This includes a "sukopako" motorcycle, which can plow straight through rock; a "pedicopter", a small personal helicopter activated by pedaling; and a speedboat. Unfortunately, these will explode if you either take a hit or run into an obstacle, forcing you to play the rest of the stage on foot.

Major boss battles don't occur normally like in any other game. Instead, the major showdown sport of Miracle World are matches of Rock-Paper-Scissors (known as Janken in Japan). The ridiculous looking enemies actually have hands for heads - their names are Rock Head, Paper Head and Scissor Head, of course. Win, and you proceed. Lose, and you die. Actually, even if the bad guys lose, they're very sore about it and tend to attack anyway. At the beginning, winning these battles is a matter of luck. However, if you manage to find a certain hidden item, you can read their minds. They still try to trick you, of course. And naturally, if you don't find this hidden item, you're kinda screwed for the remainder of the game. There are set patterns for all of them, but they change unpredictably if you lose.

Alex Kidd's first adventure takes place on the planet of Aries, where the hero, a member of the royal family, has spent many years on the top of Mt. Eternal honing his block-breaking skills. He halts his studies to save his brother Egul (also spelled Egle and Igul), who has been captured by the evil Janken. There's actually quite a bit of back story laid out with a number of secondary characters mentioned in the manual, who only appear briefly in the game, mostly members of the Radaxian royal family. There is still a surprising amount of text compared to other games of the time, certainly much more than "Your Princess in Another Castle", at least.

While it's a remarkably constructed game, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is brutally difficult. Alex can only take a single hit before dying, but that's the least of his worries. Some of the later levels are filled with particularly nasty platforming challenges, requiring intense precision to dash through narrow corridors without bumping your head on a bed of spikes. The slippery controls don't help matters either. Thankfully, as long as you have spare cash, you can continue through the use of a code. Plus, for whatever reasons, the left button on the controller jumps, and the right button attacks, making it the opposite of the later established norms. Still, the graphics are colorful and distinct, and the main theme is catchy (composed by 80s Sega mainstay Tokuhiko Uwabo), even though it certainly could've used more songs throughout the rather long adventure. It has all the makings of a classic, though it certainly lacks the simple, straightforward "pick up and play" feel of Nintendo's more famous games, which makes it harder to get into if the player has little patience of Alex Kidd's quirks.

There are minimal differences between versions. At the end of each level is a riceball, which Alex then eats as the map screen pops up. Also known as "onigiri" in Japan, these are bits of rice clumped together and wrapped in seaweed, usually with some kind of fish or other filling. Later revisions of Miracle World actually have Alex eating a hamburger, since very few people outside of Japan know what a rice ball is. On another note, the currency of Miracle World is a U with two lines through it, called a Baum. The symbol for Japanese yen is a , or a Y with two lines in it. This symbol also shows up the Sega Master System game Zillion.

Despite the numerous Sega compilations and remakes, Alex Kidd has barely been featured in any of them. Outside of a handful of Virtual Console releases for the Wii, the only major package comes in the form of the Sega Vintage Collection, named "Alex Kidd & Co". The only game in the collection actually starring Alex Kidd is the first one, Miracle World, as the other two games are Super Hang-On and Revenge of Shinobi. They're all just ROMs dumps, but the emulation, performed by M2, is excellent, and it includes versions from all territories.

MP3s

Main Theme

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

View all "Alex Kidd Miracle World" items on eBay

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (アレックス キッド ザ ロストスターズ) - Sega Master System / Arcade (1988)

American SMS Cover

Japanese Mark III Cover

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (SMS)

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is a bit of a departure from the original - it ditches all of the block smashing and vehicle riding in favor of a more straightforward move-right-and-jump-over-stuff approach. As a result, it feels even closer to the Super Mario Bros. than the original, which actually ends up reasonably well. The game originated in the arcades (and was released a mere month after Miracle World) but was later ported to the Master System.

The goal this time is collect the twelve Zodiac signs. It's actually quite similar to Westone's Wonder Boy, in that there's a timer at the top of the screen. In the Master System port, you actually get unlimited lives, but getting hit or falling down a pit will reduce the timer or send you back a few screens. The toughest bits are the end-of-level bosses, requiring that you make it through a single screen while their attacks attempt to screw you up. In comparison, the arcade version keeps track of lives, making it quite a bit more difficult. You'll come across power-ups which let you jump higher, restore your timer, or give you a limited amount of shots to destroy most enemies with. The graphics are bright, colorful, and full of detail, and the music, provided by another relatively famous Sega composer, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, is horribly catchy. The biggest difference between the arcade and Master System release is that the arcade version offers two player simultaneous play, with the second player taking on a girl named Stella, who is otherwise never really seen in any other game.

The levels range from a childish toy land to a robotic factory to an odd Halloween level to an outer space stage to the innards of some gigantic creature. The arcade version also has some background details that imply the whole thing is sort of stage-play. It's a creative bunch of stages, to say the last. The only real pitfall is that the game is really only six stages long - you have to play through each level twice to beat the game entirely, although the second time things are a bit more difficult.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World had some crazy enemies, especially with the bad guys shaped like hands, but Lost Stars actually one-ups it. One of the bosses is a disembodied bear head with a party hat, who attacks you with musical notes from his trumpet. In the Halloween level, there's a punk rocker who shoots skulls out of its ass. If these things weren't creepy enough, Alex lets out the most blood-curdling digitized scream whenever he gets hit, making damn sure that you keep him safe. There's other bits of neat digitized speech too, like the disembodied voice that starts off each stage saying "FIND THE MIRACLE BALL". The arcade version even welcomes players with "THE CUSTOMER IS KING!" when a credit is entered. So overall, despite it being a step back from its predecessor in terms of complexity, it's actually a pretty fun platformer.

MP3s

Level 1

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (SMS)

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (SMS)

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (Arcade)p>

Additional Screenshots (SMS)

Screenshot Comparisons

Arcade

Sega Master System

View all "Alex Kidd Lost Stars" items on eBay

Alex Kidd: High Tech World / Anmitsu Hime (あんみつ姫) - Sega Master System (1989)

American SMS Cover

Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Sega obviously has no shame in whoring itself out, being that the plot of 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 third game is, once again, entirely different from its predecessors, being half puzzle-solving adventure and half-action. It's also very odd, given that the game takes place in a Japanese style castle, featuring a totally different cast of character (outside of Alex) than the previous games. Alex spends the first level exploring the castle, following vague clues to find eight map pieces. Some of them are easy to find, while others require rather obtuse solutions. At one point you need to take a test from your tutor, who quizzes you about the levels in Space Harrier, amongst other history and math questions. There are some really stupid death sequences though - if you walk down the wrong set of stairs, or talk to your parents too much, you'll get a Game Over, and need to start the whole game from scratch.

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. The third level is an adventure scene similar to the first area, except much shorter. Though there are many shops and many people to talk to, the only real goal is to pray at a temple 100 times (!!) to get a pass to move to the next area, which is a very aggravating solution. (Hilariously, you can actually find a weapon in town, only to get arrested as a terrorist if you try to leave.) The final stage is another action stage, just as bad as the first. You're given passwords after each stage, which is good. You're also on a time limit - if you don't reach High Tech World by a certain time, you lose the whole game. Although it's cool that Sega tried to blend genres with this entries, both segments are so poorly done that it's really quite 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 was known as Anmitsu Hime, based off a mid-80s anime, which in turn was based on a manga dating back from 1949, about a tomboy princess in feudal Japan. This makes sense, given that the castle in the first stage is distinctly Japanese, as are all of the secondary characters. Instead of adventuring to find an arcade, Anmitsu Hime is trying to make her way to town to hunt down a new bakery. All of the sprites have been replaced in Alex Kidd: High Tech World, and some dialogue rewritten.


Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Anmitsu Hime

Anmitsu Hime

Screenshot Comparisons

Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Anmitsu Hime

View all "Alex Kidd High Tech" items on eBay

<<< Prior Page    

    Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Introduction
Alex Kidd in Miracle World
Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
Alex Kidd: High Tech World/Anmitsu Hime

Page 2:
Alex Kidd BMX Trial
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World

Back to the Index