When I was younger, there were two types of people: those who had Sonic the Hedgehog built into their SEGA Master System, and those who had Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Whilst my Master System was blessed with the iconic blue hedgehog, I couldn’t help but to envy those who could play Alex Kidd (or ‘Alex the Kid’, as I remembered him). There was just something about the game that was so appealing; the neat world, the risk-and-reward of the luck-based elements, the vehicle sections… it just resonated with me. And hey, I also owned Alex Kidd in Shinobi World which I adored, so anything Alex Kidd was fine by me.
It turns out that the game had plenty of fans who loved it, so much so that thirty-three years on from its initial release it has seen a remake in the form of Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX. We’ve seen plenty of neat remakes and re-imaginings over the last few years, but this one really feels like it came from out of nowhere. I was chuffed when it was revealed though, especially since I’d finally be able to own the game in a modernised form.
After playing it excessively in its modern form, I’ve come to realise that it was a TOUGH game that could also be a little unfair. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun, but there are some aspects that the developers could have improved upon to modernise the experience and make it even more enjoyable.
Check out a gallery of screenshots for the game down below:
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX has a stronger narrative element than the original, with NPCs encountered across the world that help fill in pieces of the story. Basically, the inhabitants of the kingdom of Radaxian have been turned to stone, and it’s up to Alex Kidd to rescue them. It’s very simple and doesn’t really add much to the overall experience, but it’s always nice to have a bit more context to your adventure.
The thing that will most likely grab the most attention immediately is just how pretty Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX looks. Whilst I remember the game as a bit of an 8-bit classic, everything in the remake is bursting with colour and style, with the beautifully designed sprites animated fluidly and the creative world packed with little details. I never played TOO much of the original game in my younger years, but seeing that first level in a re-imagined form felt a bit special. It maintains the same quality throughout the entirety of the game too, with the revamped visuals certainly standing out as a highpoint of the experience.
Would you rather play in the old-school 8-bit style? You can switch over with a press of the shoulder button, which immediately gives you a blast to the past as the original game takes over. Well… it’s not the QUITE the original game from a gameplay perspective, but it certainly looks the part. Switching between them freely mid-game always impressed me though and players can see just how much game visuals have improved in thirty-years.
“Whilst I remember the game as a bit of an 8-bit classic, everything in the remake is bursting with colour and style, with the beautifully designed sprites animated fluidly and the creative world packed with little details.”
As far as the gameplay is concerned, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX pretty much feels exactly the same as before. Players will navigate through platforming levels, all whilst punching enemies (Alex has one heck of a fist on him), collecting cash, and smashing up the boxes blocking his path. Those boxes can be unpredictable, though – whilst most are fine, some are marked with symbols that can either reward the player or potentially send a fiendish ghoul after them.
Players will also encounter vehicle sections (provided they have enough gold to purchase the vehicle in the first place) which add a fun twist to the formula, whilst boss battles offer some formulaic but enjoyable showdowns. It certainly can’t be knocked as far as variety is concerned, whilst it’s clear that the game did a lot of cool things that other platformers didn’t back in 1988.
That was thirty-years ago mind, so how do those things feel to do now? Well, whilst the platforming is fine, the random nature of those aforementioned blocks you can smash just feels like poor game design now. Whilst you can learn which blocks have good things in (such as a ring that lets you shoot fire), the learning process as you play can be frustrating and will set players back quite a bit – especially since there are one-hit kills in the game and limited lives. It’s something that was present in the original, but games have come on a long way since then so you’d have thought that the developer might have balanced it out to make it a bit fairer for the player.
“It certainly can’t be knocked as far as variety is concerned, whilst it’s clear that the game did a lot of cool things that other platformers didn’t back in 1988.”
I haven’t touched upon the ‘rock-paper-scissors’ showdowns with enemies yet either. For those who didn’t play the original, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX features boss battles where you simply play rock-paper-scissors with an enemy – if you beat them twice, you win, if they beat you twice, you lose. It’s a concept I love with the luck-based element of the game making for some exciting scenarios. The problem is, failure means you lose a life. As mentioned, lives are limited, so you can lose all your lives and have to start over purely through bad luck. It’s something that I remember causing frustration in my younger years, but I had more patience then and could deal with the failures; these days, it just feels like bad game design. I feel like it was a missed opportunity for the developer to rectify the issue and do something *different* to punish the player for losing, especially since lives are a limited commodity.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s possible to play Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX with unlimited lives, but the purist in me felt a bit dirty doing so. I just wish the developer took the chance to iron out a few of the flaws, or perhaps introduce a ‘Remixed’ mode that added modernised improvements. Or maybe I’m just soft and used to games being a bit easier these days?
Despite these issues, there’s still plenty of fun to be had playing Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX. It even brings with it some all-new levels and game modes to tackle, so there’s a lot more meat to its bones than the Master System original offered. It will still only take an hour or two to beat, but at least there’ll be things that returning gamers haven’t seen before.
Whilst it has its flaws, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX still offers an enjoyable platforming adventure that’s very old-school in design. It’s tough and can often be unfair, but it also features some solid level design, neat boss fights, and fun vehicular sections – basically, it’s got everything you’d expect from an old-school platformer. It’s a shame that the developers couldn’t fix some of the obvious issues that didn’t stand the test of time, but with the excellent visuals and introduction of new levels and modes, it’s hard to complain too much.
Fans of the original will undoubtedly love the adventure whilst newcomers will probably appreciate it too. Just be warned: it’s still as challenging as you remember (and you’ll need luck on your side)!
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Click here to visit the official website.