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Alex Kidd in Miracle World (Sega Master System) artwork

Alex Kidd in Miracle World (Sega Master System) review

"Even though the game has some great things about it...there are also some pretty bad design choices as well."

Sega's Answer to Mario?
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a 2D action / platforming game on the Sega Master System (SMS), and is probably the most played game on the console as it was programmed directly into the later versions of the Master System. Alex Kidd is generally hailed as one of the standout titles on the SMS, and is usually pointed out as the direct "counter" to Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. While it does belong to the same genre as Mario, it also features some stark differences that, for better or for worse, set it apart.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World screenshotAlex Kidd in Miracle World screenshot

Some Good, Some Bad, and a Motorcycle
Considering that this game was made in 1986, they really went out on a limb and incorporated some interesting design choices for a 2D platformer. Perhaps the best (and most fun) choice here is their decision to have vehicles for Alex. You can ride a motorcycle, pedicopter (sort of a mix between a bicycle and a helicopter), and even a speedboat. These vehicles not only help to break-up the standard platform gameplay core, but are also just ridiculously fun to play! The general level design is also worth mentioning too. From the first level where you progress DOWN (not left-to-right) and then hop into the water to other levels such as the maze-like castles, you won't ever be left with a "seen it, done it" feel when playing Alex Kidd. Finally, the look and sound for this game are nothing short of amazing. The bright colors, cartoonish graphics, and catchy music all contribute to a great aesthetic appeal.

Even though the game has some great things about it...there are also some pretty bad design choices as well. Without a doubt, the most annoying thing about this game is its "Janken" boss battle system. Here, you have to play rock-paper-scissors to progress at some points during the game...not even joking. While you can find some ways to work around this system (like memorizing what they play), the basic concept is that you only can advance on blind luck. Oh, by the way, if you lose, you die...WHAT? There is no way around this just being unbelievably frustrating. Another thing worth mentioning is the usage of item power-ups in the game. Alex Kidd in Miracle World actually features some pretty cool, varied power-ups to choose from (like flight or spitting mini-Alex's out to attack). However, to use these you have to pause the game, which is not a problem if you are playing on an emulator or Virtual Console...BUT, on the SMS, the pause button is on the console itself. That means that every time you want to use a power-up you need to get up, run over to the console, and pause it. Incorporating the use of a button located on the console, and not the controller, is just plain stupid, and makes it so that you may ignore using the cool power-ups at all.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World screenshotAlex Kidd in Miracle World screenshot

Fun, but No Miracle
Alex Kidd in Miracle World was the first game that I played for this system, and I had high expectations. Everybody who is a fan of the console is a fan of this game. At the end of the day, though, I have mixed feelings about Alex Kidd. I honestly had fun playing this game, and especially loved the motorcycle levels. However, I recognize that Alex Kidd wasn't perfect...the "Janken" system, especially, didn't sit well with me. With that said, I do believe that the balance between positive and negative things about Alex Kidd ends up tilting towards it being a good game. Comparing it to Mario, as it has been, I'd honestly say that Mario is the better of the two. But this game does have a leg up on Mario in some things. It looks better, has more variety, and can be just as fun to boot! All in all, this is a game worth playing, and, while I didn't agree with all of the design choices, I absolutely loved that they tried something a bit different rather than just trying to spit out a clone of something that already worked.

Overall, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a 3.5 / 5 for being a fun game with interesting, but imperfect design choices.


Never3ndr's avatar
Community review by Never3ndr (October 25, 2015)

Retro-Gaming Enthusiast!

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EmP posted October 26, 2015:

Welcome back.

I used to risk melting my Master System with the hours I sunk into this game (the other big offender was Phantasy Star) and it used to kick my arse. I's always get slaughtered by the stone-scissor-paper guys. Still, just remembering that motorcycle tool has given me a bit of a grin.
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Never3ndr posted October 26, 2015:

Yeah, I had a blast on the motorcycle levels!

Good to be back, I've had a bit of spare time IRL so I've been able to play games more. I still haven't played Phantasy Star actually...but it is on my to-play list. I used to play Phantasy Star Online and absolutely loved I'm curious about the origins of the series.
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EmP posted October 30, 2015:

I love Phantasy Star but so much of that is wrapped up in nostalgia. At heart, it's a clumsy dungeon crawler that was ahead of its time as a console release. Phantasy Star 2, however, still holds up brilliantly.

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