Players of a certain age, who were gaming in the late 80s or early 90s will quite likely remember Sega’s first attempt to create a platforming mascot. Before Sonic had even collected his first ring, Alex Kidd was collecting fat wads of cash and punching his way through a series of varied and challenging levels, in Alex Kidd in Miracle World.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World was one of the titles that were built into the Master System, although later models switched this out for Sonic the Hedgehog. Perhaps this is why a modern remake makes sense since there are so many people who will have nostalgia for it, being a game that many Master System owners had by default. Interestingly enough, the game actually started off development as a Dragon Ball Z title, before for whatever reason it got changed to be an original game instead. You can find a few subtle hints to its anime-inspired roots, but only if you’re looking for them.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a remake of the original game, with a complete graphical overhaul. They’ve had to use some artistic license with interpreting the original art style, where they’ve expanded on the low-resolution sprites and environments and given it a more modern cartoony look.
It’s becoming clear that Sega has found themselves a strategy that seems to be working, where they are working with outside partners to revive some of their classic series. There was Sonic Mania, where Sega partnered with a team of developers from the Sonic fan-game community, and they made the best Sonic game since the 90s. There was Streets of Rage 4, which Sega licensed out to publisher Dotemu to great success. Now it’s Alex Kidd’s turn, and Sega has licensed out the rights to publisher Merge Games and developer Jankenteam. This is certainly preferable to letting these classic series just gather dust on the shelf, and if Sega’s internal development studios aren’t a good fit for these kinds of remakes, I think finding the right external partner for these smaller-scale titles is a solid strategy.
This remake seems to be reasonably faithful, bringing all the levels, abilities and vehicles over from the original game and also offering the promise of new levels. For fans of the chunky pixel style from the Master System original, you can also switch between the original graphics or the remade visuals.
I enjoyed my time with this as a kid, and I certainly appreciated being taught the rules to rock/paper/scissors by a video game, but I’m not sure how this would be received by players without any nostalgia goggles. It’s a fun enough game, but I don’t know if it would particularly stand out for new players. I wonder if they’ll do anything about the difficulty, which could perhaps be a little off-putting for some players not used to brutally punishing platformers. Alex Kidd doesn’t mess around and will kill you in a second flat because a ghost touched your feet or because you pressed punch a second late when cabbage was about to walk into you.
The game isn’t due out until next year, so there’s plenty of time to hear more about it prior to release. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one, but for now the Steam page is already live.