A trip down memory lane with … Alex Kidd In Miracle World!
Written by Mel Portolesi
Back in the mid 80’s my family pounced on the release of the Sega Master System (that is Version 1 with both a cartridge AND card slot) … it was a definite improvement on the Sega SC3000H. Perched up high on a shelf in his red overalls, it was love at first sight. Alex Kidd In Miracle World was one of our first game purchases … with Version 1 this was not built-in. To this day it remains one of my old time favourites. The elements that attracted me as a child have stood the test of time. First of all our cute lil super-hero can pack a killer punch with a fist the size of his head. Colourful side-scrolling game play, a multitude of cute characters, with an awesome 8-bit soundtrack! What more could a [big] kid want?
Hailing from the planet Aries, Alex Kidd is a master in the art of Shellcore, which enables him the ability to smash bricks with his bare fists. The mission of the game is to save the City of Radaxian from the evil Janken the Great, ruler of the planet Janbarik. Janken The Great gets his name from his expertise at the game Janken, better known as the stone, scissors, paper game. As the game unfolds it is revealed that Alex is in fact the Prince of Radaxian, who was kidnapped by evil men when he was a small boy.
At the start of each level you are presented with a colourful map of the Miracle World pinpointing your location. Our favourite super-hero Alex is also eating one of my favourite breakfast items when in Japan…Onigiri (rice cakes) In the built-in version (on the Sega Master System 2), Alex is eating a hamburger.
So as Alex progresses through the Miracle World, he encounters a number of Janken’s henchmen…who are funnily enough known as Stone Head, Scissor Head, and Paper Head. To defeat these guys, one must engage in a friendly…or not so friendly…game of Janken! Later in the game you will find it is not enough to simply beat them at a game of Janken…the fight turns physical complete with flying heads!
One of the many appeals of the game is the variety of landscapes. On his quest Alex must explore many terrains including the land, sea and sky. Unlike other games of the time where backgrounds remained constant, with Alex no two levels are the same. Alex must battle through grassland, forest, caves and underwater to name a few, in his bid to save the people of Radaxian from the tyrant Janken.
Another appealing factor is the various modes of transport…motorbike, speedboat, and pedicopter. My personal favourite is the speedboat! Why? Cos it’s darn cute!
A cool feature, unlike some other games, is that you actually get to spend your hard earned cash…yes I’m looking at a certain infamous plumber! >_> Alex is able to purchase a variety of useful items that make travelling the Miracle World a little bit easier, including the motorbike, extra lives, power bracelets and so on…so make sure you’re stocked up on Baums, the Miracle World currency!
If I had to fault the game, the first criticism would be that Alex can only take a single hit before dying and there is no “continue” function…or so it seems. This can be a tad frustrating if you’ve reached one of the higher levels. However players do not despair! On the “Game Over” screen simply hold the up button of your controller and press button B 8 times and bam! You get to continue from the level you left off with 3 lives to boot! However this little cheat does require you have at least 400 Baum in the bank.
Secondly controlling Alex can be a bit difficult. It is very easy to over jump your target, or slip off its edge and into a bed of spikes, pit of lava or other life-ending implement.
Overall, Alex Kidd In Miracle World makes for pleasant game play. The graphics are impressive for its time and the whole package is vibrant, colourful and above all fun! Part of the charm of the game is the fantastic soundtrack and I personally love how the music changes as you enter a new scene. The opening tune will get stuck in your head for days! The game is simple yet strategic, and does have a couple of hidden areas tucked away. I believe Alex Kidd In Miracle World to be very original for its time and if you have played its successors I think you could say this game is truly a gem.
I must say that back in the day I had this game licked in an hour. 20 years later and I am struggling just a bit :)
Now for a little something I whipped up myself! Could there be a market for retro-gaming catering?