Review: Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX
Reviewed on: PS4
Publisher: Merge Games
Available on: PS/XB/NS/PC
Before Sonic the Hedgehog, Alex Kidd has been SEGA’s Master System mascot and it was considered as Sega’s answer to Super Mario Bros. The game gained a wide success also because it helped in defining the platform-gaming genre as we know it. Along the years Alex’s franchise was left as a relic of an older time. The franchise was almost forgotten until a remake of the original game, Miracle World, was announced.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is the remake of the game on modern platforms, featuring new levels, modes, and accessibility options to make it appealing to newcomers and veterans. The new graphics and updated music are fantastic, and the world even has some new characters and story beats. For Retro-gaming lovers, you can switch to a retro visual mode at any time using R2. For the fans of the original game is available the classic mode, unlockable after finishing the game, which is a complete recreation of the original Master System release; the other mode available after finishing the game is the Boss Rush, where the player has to defeat all bosses one after another. Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX is checkpointed and is divided into 17 distinct levels (plus a few that Jankenteam has added); Each level presents distinct challenges: in some, you must think hard about which blocks to break and which ones to leave to complete tricky jumps, while in others you will have to play platforming sections where perfect timing is required.
Unfortunately, the gameplay has various issues, with sometimes boring and outdated level design, bad enemy placement and one of the worst hit-detection systems I remember. Boss fights are interesting as you will play Rock-Paper-Scissors against most of them, and if you lose you die, but there are also traditional boss fights. Alex Kidd can jump and jump and punch; if you jump on an enemy you will die, and Alex’s range is limited so very good timing and precision are required when jumping or hitting. Here is where things might become frustrating; imagine having just 3 lives before restarting the whole level, you jump and while landing your character slides a bit towards an approaching enemy and the hitbox will make you die; moreover, the animations aren’t always precise and this is a big issue for a platform game. Alex can count also on a variety of power-ups, including a ring that allows long-ranged attacks, a tiny car, a boat or a helicopter for rushing through the levels.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a great looking remake of an outdated game. Level design looks old, hitboxes just feel off and the animation of the character makes it slide a bit, causing some of the most frustrating deaths. For accessibility reasons, it is also possible to play with infinite lives. Technically, Jankenteam’s efforts are remarkable; the new graphics look impressive, preserving the vibe of the original but adding modern values. Controls feel like the original despite they have been upgraded and, paradoxically, the classic visual mode seems to be more precise in this sense.
Despite some frustrating situation, the game reveals itself to be more varied and complex than it first seems, that is why it was perceived as being ahead of its time. The game has a storyline, presented minimally (via conversations with characters you meet), but still not a common feature for games of that era. The plot is quite simple: Alex Kidd is a long-lost prince who must liberate the world from the evil machinations of Janken the Great, who has also imprisoned Alex’s brother, Egle.
Overall, Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX is a cool mix of highly precise platforming sections, often-brutal difficulty level, and funny rock-paper-scissors battles. Playing it throws you back directly in the late 80’s, making you realize that even when platform games were in their infancy, they could support surprisingly diverse gameplay.
This remake is a must for all platform game fanatics, especially for those interested in seeing the evolution of the genre.