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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

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by Kurt Kalata - last updated June 2, 2012

Sega was a rather pitiable entity when it came to the Master System. They had no market share, their advertising was almost non-existent, and everyone was busy neglecting homework to play Nintendo instead. However, those who stuck with the underdog console found solace in a few key franchises. One of these was Alex Kidd, the closest Sega came to having a Mario-style mascot until Sonic the Hedgehog showed up, 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 Fushigi no Oshiro Pit-Pot, Woody Pop, Zillion, and Fantasy Zone.

Alex's most prominent features are his large ears, red jumpsuit and gigantically enormous sideburns. He is, in some ways, designed to look sort of like a monkey. Although he looked appealingly cutesy in the original Japanese artwork, all of the Western boxes seemed to make him look like an obnoxious, fat, freckled third grader, which probably played a role in dooming him to obscurity.

Though there are six Alex Kidd games, they're almost all entirely different from each other – only Miracle World, the first Master System game, and Enchanted Castle, the first (and only) Genesis game, share similar designs and gameplay.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World (Master System)


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

American SMS Cover

Japanese Mark III Cover

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 different. 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 Super Mario Bros. 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.

Alex's first adventure takes place on the planet of Aries where, as the hero and the lost member of the Radaxian royal family, he has spent many years on the top of Mt. Eternal honing his blockbreaking skills. He halts his studies to save his brother Egul, who has been captured by the evil king Janken. (Alex's brother shares his name with the hero of Pit-Pot, one of Hayashida's previous games, and is sometimes spelled Egle or Igul.) There's actually quite a bit of backstory laid out with a number of secondary characters mentioned in the manual; they only appear briefly in the game, and are mostly members of the Radaxian royal family. There is a surprising amount of text compared to other games of the time, certainly much more than "Your Princess is in Another Castle", at least.

For starters, it breaks free from the repetitive four-level cycle of Super Mario Bros. to create 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 17 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 within each stage, most of which contain bags of money. Cash is not directly for extra lives, but instead acts as currency to buy a variety of power-ups in shops found around 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 rather short ranged and leave him susceptible to danger. However, these same blocks can also spawn deadly magicians, who ruthlessly hunt Alex down unless he can outwit or outrun them.

Several stages also allow you to purchase vehicles to make life a bit easier. These include a "sukopako" motorcycle, which can plow straight through rock; a "pedicopter", a small personal helicopter activated by pedaling; and a "suisui” 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.

Eat Paper, Rock Head!

Major boss battles don't occur normally like in other games. Instead, the big showdown sport of Miracle World is a match 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, obviously. 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. When you first play, 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, which can drastically screw you up.

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 or swim 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, the left Button 1 on the controller jumps, and the right Button 2 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 1980s 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 lacks the straightforward "pick up and play" feel of Nintendo's more famous games, making it harder to get into if the player has little patience for Alex Kidd's quirks.

Want Rice With That?

There are minimal differences between regional versions. At the end of each level is a rice ball, 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 in non-Japanese territories actually have Alex eating a hamburger, since very few people outside of Japan know what onigiri is. On another note, the currency used in 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 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 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 ROM dumps, but the emulation, developed by M2, is excellent, and it includes versions from all territories.

Board Game

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Kotaro Hayashida

Genre:

Themes:


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

Alex Kidd in Miracle World


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

American SMS Cover

Japanese Mark III Cover

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is a bit of a departure from Miracle World. Many of the more unique elements have been ditched in favor of a more straightforward move-rightand-jump-over-stuff approach. As a result, it feels even closer to Super Mario Bros. than the original. The game originated in the arcades on the Sega System 16 board (and was released very shortly after Miracle World in Japan) but was later ported to the Master System.

The goal this time is collect the 12 Zodiac signs. You can no longer punch anything, and there are no rocks to be broken, nor any cash to grab. It's actually quite similar to Westone's Wonder Boy, particularly in that there's a timer on the screen.

The arcade version keeps track of lives, making it quite a bit more difficult compared to the Master System port. On the Master System you receive unlimited lives, but getting hit or falling down a pit will reduce the timer or send you back a few screens. The toughest bits in both versions are the end-of-level encounters, requiring that you make it through a single screen while various enemies attempt to screw you up. To make things easier you'll find power-ups which let you jump higher, restore your timer, or give you a limited amount of "shadow" shots to destroy most enemies with.

The graphics are bright, colorful, and full of detail, while the music, provided by another relatively famous Sega composer, Hiroshi Kawaguchi, is extremely catchy. Despite the smaller color palette, the Master System version is actually brighter and more attractive overall.

Other than the issue with the lives, 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 seen in any other game in the series.

The first stage is a land of toys, set up to look like a kid's stage play, complete with a background that appears to have been painted on a hanging banner. Dogs attack by barking out the letters "BOW WOW", evil Alice In Wonderland-style playing cards march forth, and the landscape is built of bright play blocks.

The rest of the levels include a robotics factory, an odd horrorthemed level, a prehistoric area, an outer space stage, and the innards of some gigantic creature. It's a creative bunch of levels, to say the least. The single genuine pitfall is that the game is really only six stages long. You have to play through each of these levels twice to beat the game entirely, although the second time things are a bit more difficult. Compared to the 17 stages of its predecessor though, and it's kind of a bummer.

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 his ass. If these things weren't creepy enough, Alex lets out a terrible bloodcurdling digitized scream whenever he gets hit. There's other bits of neat digitized speech too, like the disembodied voice that starts off each stage saying "FIND THE MIRACLE BALL" (one of the Miracle Balls is actually Opa-Opa from Fantasy Zone). The arcade version even welcomes players with "THE CUSTOMER IS KING!" when a credit is entered.

The Lost Stars gets a bad rap because it's such a huge step back from the ambitious Miracle World, but consider it in its original arcade setting, and its being positioned as a straight-up platformer makes perfect sense. The Lost Stars is full of enough weird enemies and memorable landscapes to be quite likeable.

Quick Info:

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Genre:

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Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (Master System)

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (Master System)

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (Master System)

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots (Master System)


Screenshot Comparisons


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

American Cover

Anmitsu Hime Cover

Sega obviously has no shame in whoring itself out. 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 puzzlesolving 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 se, 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 ninjafilled 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.


Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Alex Kidd: High Tech World

Anmitsu Hime

Anmitsu Hime


Screenshot Comparisons


<<< 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