Ranking the Alex Kidd Games
Since the announcement of an Alex Kidd in Miracle World remake, coming in 2021, I've itched to sit down and play the original games, to see why they would choose to remake a SEGA Master System title. And what better reason to play a game that came out when I was three, than to pit the entire series against each other, and see which is the best one?
Of course, I'll be ignoring Alex Kidd BMX Trial, as that required a special controller, and was only released in Japan. It had some good ideas in it, though, so if you get the chance to give it a try there's no reason to say no.
Let's start off with the worst so that we can find the best Alex Kidd!
5. Alex Kidd The Lost Stars
The second game in the franchise, this sees you heading across levels to find signs of the zodiac. Or something, it's very vague but at least it has a story.
Unfortunately, it's the worst because it's the hardest. You're timed, and getting hit/falling in a hole reduces your time as well as returning you to a checkpoint. Wherever that may be. You'll get hit a bunch, too, because you cannot fight back. You can jump and that's all, as you progress through sideways scrolling level after sideways scrolling level, with very little verticality. The timer is very punishing, too, because you need to avoid getting hit at all to have any chance of completing each level in the time given. The only things it did better than the first game are the nice, chunky, bright sprites, and an improved soundtrack. No, the added soundbite of Alex screaming when hit is not better than the silence of the original.
4. Alex Kidd in Miracle World
The original (and the one being remade) sees you going through each level avoiding or punching enemies, trying to reach the food at the end.
While the gameplay has some twists, with occasional vehicle sections, there's no denying that it's the original super-hard platformer. Miss with your punch by a pixel? You're dead. Mistime a jump? Dead. It's very unforgiving, and the bright colours don't lighten the mood. In fact, it's quite a plain looking game, and doesn't take advantage of the Master System's capabilities at all.
3. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
There are rumours that King Thor is on Planet Rockpaper, and Prince Alex "Kidd" decides it's up to him to check it out. He'll do this by punching, kicking, eating onigiri and playing rock, paper, scissors.
Being on the Mega Drive gives it a graphical boost, but much like the original game it doesn't go far enough with the hardware. I would go as far as to say it's not even a big change from High Tech World - it does not do much with those eight extra bits. You have a choice between punching or jump-kicking enemies, but the same old issue with hitboxes being very stingy plagues the game. There are plenty of doors to enter that lead you to a game of rock, paper, scissors - these give you items such as a motorbike or pogo-stick that can help you out, but you have to have collected enough coins to participate. It adds a fun element, though the punishing one-hit kills are annoying.
2. Alex Kidd in High Tech World
An action RPG which sees Prince Alex (he's a prince now) trying to find eight map pieces so you can visit the arcade. Because the town is so big it requires a map to locate the newest attraction, apparently.
A vast improvement in the graphical department, and the developer knew it because standing in front of certain characters makes them tell you to move so people can see them. It's split into sections, with the first and third being "walk around" and the other two being more traditional platforming sections, complete with throwing shuriken at ninjas. There are a number of Game Over states, such as putting on a heavy suit of armour or falling down a broken flight of stairs, as well as getting killed by the ninja or just taking too long and not reaching the arcade in time; but once you know what you're doing it's a relative breeze. It's fun and deserves its place in this list.
1. Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
The Dark Ninja has returned and kidnapped Alex's girlfriend, so the only option is obviously to become possessed by the ghost of the ancient warrior who originally banished the Dark Ninja to rescue her.
Quite a departure from the previous titles, the addition of a sword (which can be powered-up) does add another dimension to things. The levels are more like the Miracle World, with both vertical and side scrolling sections. However, the inclusion of a health bar allowing multiple hits is a vast improvement. The sprites are great, and the music is less repetitive than previous titles.
So in conclusion, let’s hope that Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a bit of a departure from the 1986 original, rather than just updating the graphics. After all, it’s not the best game starring Alex Kidd.