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Alex Kidd in Miracle World (Sega Master System) artwork

Alex Kidd in Miracle World (Sega Master System) review


"I had a lot of fun playing the game, and was really surprised by the gameplay variety in a platformer made in the mid-80's. Not only does it deliver on the gameplay, it also looked and sounded absolutely astounding. I'd recommend this game to pretty much anybody...it is certainly a game worth playing!"



Quick Info
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a Sega Master System (SMS) single-player platforming game developed and published by Sega in 1986. It was the first game featuring Alex Kidd, who was Sega's "mascot" until Sonic the Hedgehog rolled around. Oddly enough, even though it was the first game in the Alex Kidd series, it remains one of the most beloved games in the series and on the console. The reasons for this include its catchy, upbeat music, diverse gameplay, and delivering a fun, memorable experience. This is also probably the most well-known SMS game as it was actually built into most later versions of the console.

Alex Kidd in Miracle WorldAlex Kidd in Miracle World


===> Visuals = (fun, cartoony and awesome) 10/10
This game was released in 1986, but looks like something released in the early 90's.

> Graphics / Animation - 10/10
Alex Kidd in Miracle World features a colorful, cartoony look that really fits well with the lighthearted feel of the game. On top of meshing well with the overall feel of the game, the graphics simply look great. Rather than looking like a more common 1986 game release...being a blocky, pixelated nightmare where it is hard to tell the difference between your character and the enemy...Alex Kidd in Miracle World ends up being one of those revolutionary games that looks years ahead of its time. From the big-eared, big-fisted sprite of Alex Kidd to the dancing, janken playing Janken-the-Great, everything has a colorful, detailed look that brings it to life. Not just the sprites, but the backgrounds and environments also look great and really help to set the mood of the level. The animations are also pretty good considering the date of the game. However, they aren't ahead of their time at all, still appearing a bit clunky at times (defeated enemies often just go "poof" and Alex Kidd's fist just kinda pops out there when he punches). Overall however, the game features really great graphics with its vibrant, cartoonish look and decent animations.

> Environment Variety - 9/10
While most early platformers feature a couple different environments, none reach the variety of Alex Kidd in Miracle World. From the basic sunny, cartoony backdrop to castles, a cave, a town, a forest, and several underwater levels...this game really has a lot to offer. The most important thing is that each location looks and feels unique rather than being a simple palette swap. The greens of the forest, the melancholy blueish-purple of the first castle, the reds and oranges in the cave, and the vibrant blues of the sky all contrast well and set each place apart. While Alex Kidd in Miracle World features varied gameplay, it is the diverse environments that really highlight the different segments of gameplay and cement the feeling that the gamer is really playing something new and fresh.

===> Sound = (classic) 9/10
While not as recognized as some of the Nintendo music (Mario, Zelda, etc.)...when heard today, the catchy tunes of Alex Kidd in Miracle World draw up that same sense of nostagia to its fans.

> Music - 9/10
Alex Kidd in Miracle World has some great, memorable video game music. From the title screen to the game over screen, all the music fits perfectly into the mood of the game while being so catchy that it will soon have many gamers humming and singing along with the track...even after they stop playing! The music is so memorable that even today people take the liberty of covering and remixing different tracks from the game. It should be noted, however, that the happy, upbeat tunes may turn a handful of gamers off. For most players though, the music hits that epic "classic" status without a doubt.

> Effects - 8/10
From the "ching" of collecting money to the jumping sounds to the "poof" of a defeated enemy, the effects in Alex Kidd in Miracle World sound spot-on.

===> Storyline = (a story in an 8-bit platformer...wait, what?) 9/10
Back in the mid 80's if a platformer had a storyline it was pretty much summed up in a paragraph in the game manual and a couple sentences (if you were lucky) at the end of the game. Alex Kidd in Miracle World breaks that mold by actually having the storyline unfold during the game, helping to immerse the player into the "miracle world." The story starts out with Alex Kidd having ended seven years of training on Mt. Eternal. On his journey back to his homeland, he encounters a man who tells him that the peaceful city of Radactian (later on it seems to change to Radaxian) is in grave danger and gives Alex Kidd a map and medallion before dying. Amazingly enough, the first level incorporates this introduction by actually having the player descend the mountain. Later on in the game, Alex Kidd encounters a couple different characters that have dialogue that moves the story (and Alex) further into the game. While the story is relatively simplistic and linear, the fact that Alex Kidd even attempted to include one during the game speaks volumes and is many years ahead of its time. The only downside here is that the ending leaves the player hanging...foreshadowing another epic adventure in a sequel that never came to be.

Alex Kidd in Miracle WorldAlex Kidd in Miracle World


===> Gameplay = (really bad...just KIDDing!) 9/10
Alex Kidd in Miracle World delivers on some great, fun times with its solid platforming while branching out to try some different things...most of which works, although some of it deserves to stay forgotten in 1986.

> Controls - 7/10
Controls are key to any solid platformer. While Alex Kidd delivers simple, responsive controls...there are some issues. The main issue is that controlling the Kidd feels slippery. Sure, Alex will do whatever you direct him to...press the jump button and he will jump, punch button and he will punch...however, Alex seems to have a bit of momentum behind him wherever he goes (maybe from his overly large ears). This causes him to slide forward a bit even after you stop pressing the directional button. While the game does take advantage of this in some ways (there is a sliding duck maneuver)...overall, the slippery controls just ends up making the already tricky platforming sections a nightmare at times. The other glaring mistake with the controls comes from the pause button. For those of you who have not played a Sega Master System, there is no pause button on the controllers...the pause button is located on the console. While this is generally a pain, it becomes exceedingly irritating while playing Alex Kidd in Miracle World. This is due to the fact that using items (which you will want to do often as it makes the game easier and more fun) requires you to pause the game to select the item. This gets so bad I even know a guy who just gave up and played with the console in his lap since it was such a pain to keep getting up to go press pause and use an item. Yet, even though there are some issues with the controls, you can get used to it...and they are responsive which remains the most important aspect of the controls.

> Design - 9/10
At its core, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is just a great, fun platformer. On top of the solid platforming experience, Sega (the game developer) also tried out some different things to include in the game. Some of these design choices really add to the experience making the game more fun and interesting, while other design choices end up being flaws, detracting from the game making it more frustrating and less enjoyable.

Probably at the top of the list of design flaws is the rock-paper-scissors game (Janken) that is central to the major boss fights in the game...that is right, you read that correctly...a rock-paper-scissors, luck-based game is CENTRAL to many of the boss fights. You can literally lose all of your lives on a boss but just not being lucky enough. To be fair, the game does try to help you out by including an item in the game that allows you to see what your enemy is thinking. This changes the Janken games into more skill based (as the enemies will often change their minds forcing you to react quickly)...however, the player must first find their way to the item (there are two in the game, each requiring a trick to get to it). This leads into the next problem, which is that some items that are essential for the player to complete the game (at least without some online help) are not in obvious places along the player's path. While the telepathy ball is an example of this, the real culprit here is in finding the tablet that holds the key to the last puzzle in the game. To find the tablet, the player must first receive a note to give to a king later on in the game. However, the note will not appear until an event is completed, and the event is easily skipped over unknowingly by players. This leads to many gamers getting to the last room...only to get stumped and die repeatedly trying to figure out the excessively long pattern required to unlock the final item and complete the game. On the note of dying repeatedly, the game does not feature any save or continue functions...or does it? Actually, there is a hidden continue feature (which Alex Kidd sorely needs) that allows the player to continue as long as they have the money for it. But why is it hidden? It is pretty much required for a casual player to complete the game, it is included in the game, but, for whatever reason, the designers made it something to "discover" rather than something naturally included in the game. These flaws really detract a lot from the game making it excessively frustrating. However, Sega also made some great design choices that really make up for the mistakes they made trying things out.

While the main objective of each level is just to defeat the baddies and make your way to the end...along the way Alex can collect money which allows him to buy items. These items really allow the player to use a variety of different solutions to make their way through some of the more challenging parts that would normally have them seeing that "Game Over" screen. There are many different items available for the Kidd to buy, from the standard 1up to an odd device that spawns mini-Alex's to vehicles...VEHICLES!!! That is right, you can even purchase different vehicles to use in the level. Alex Kidd can ride a motorbike, a boat, and even pilot a helicopter. The vehicles provide a TON of fun for the player and deliver some of the most memorable experiences in the game! Who wouldn't forget their first ride on the motorbike...plowing through the scorpions, blocks, and frogs (eat your heart out Frogger!). All that adds up to providing Alex Kidd in Miracle World with some great variety on top of a solid platforming experience. The variety in the gameplay...even the poor attempt at providing some variety with the Janken (rock-paper-scissors) games...really makes up for some of the other poor design choices. At the end of the day, Alex Kidd tried a lot of different things which mostly work, helping to advance the platforming genre with this great example of gameplay design.

> Fun Factor / Difficulty - 8/10
The difficulty in this game is tied in with the fun factor...mainly because the game can be frustratingly difficult for a lot of gamers...which detracts from the rating. While the game stops short of being one of those impossible to beat titles, it definitely remains as one tough sucker...especially when considering that this game was marketed towards children. However, as difficult and infuriating as it is to die...and die again...and again...and again while bullying your way through the game...it ends up being a fun experience overall and the player definitely feels a lot of reward after conquering a particularly tough room or level. Overall, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a really fun game while being frustrating at times due to the ramped up difficulty.

> Replay Value - Moderately Low
There isn't a lot of reason to play this game after you beat it other than for fun or nostalgia.

Alex Kidd in Miracle WorldAlex Kidd in Miracle World


===> Reviewer Opinion = (would give Mario a run for his money) 8/10
I've never played a Sega Master System game before, and I have to say that if Alex Kidd in Miracle World is any indication, I was really missing out. I had a lot of fun playing the game, and was really surprised by the gameplay variety in a platformer made in the mid-80's. Not only does it deliver on the gameplay, it also looked and sounded absolutely astounding. I'd recommend this game to pretty much anybody...it is certainly a game worth playing!

===> Overall Impression = (underappreciated) 9/10
Over time Alex Kidd and his games have been forgotten...even Sega, who created him, has forsaken him. However, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is truly a gem of gaming that deserves more recognition. It delivers a great platforming experience while offering some varied gameplay, a decent storyline, and looks and sounds that are years ahead of its time. Perhaps the best testament to how great this game is is the fact that those gamers who have had the pleasure of playing Alex Kidd remain a strong, loyal fanbase even to this day! Alex Kidd evokes the same nostalgia for Sega Master System gamers that Mario evokes for Nintendo gamers.

Rating: 9/10

ThoughtFool1's avatar
Community review by ThoughtFool1 (July 29, 2013)

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