Let’s start this year with a retro review of the probably most famous Master System game: Alex Kidd in Miracle World. This is a classic 8 bit platformer where the player controls Alex Kidd, who is on a quest to free his home country, Radaxian, from clutches of the evil Janken.
At a first glance, the game appears to be just like any other one in its genre: the objective is to reach the end of the level, enemies move in predefined patterns and jumps have to be timed to avoid pitfalls, gaps, and other hazards. All similarities stop there. Alex Kidd in Miracle World has much more gameplay depth than a standard platformer.
This is how the gameplay works: the objective is to reach the end of the levels, but in order to do so, the player can (and must) use items either bought from shops or collected throughout the level. This means that collecting money is a big part of the game, as it will serve to get these items, which completely change how the game is played. For example, on some levels, there is the option to drive a motorbike, fly a helicopter or go on foot, so, depending on the selected item, it will deliver a different gameplay experience for the same level.
Don’t be fooled by all its features, they make some levels easier but one hit from any enemy kills Alex Kidd instantly.
Another gameplay feature that makes the game stand out from the others are the boss fights: some of then are decided in a game of paper/scissors/rocks. The first one to loose 2 rounds, gets defeated. So, as the manual states, it is a game withing a game.
Luckily the controls are accurate and extremely responsive, making it possible to take those split second decisions required in this kind of game.
Moving on the graphics, as one might expect from a platform game, the levels are created with predefined tiles. In this game, they are very detailed and colorful for an 8 bit console, but on some levels, there is little or not even a single background element present. Maybe this happened because there is so much game on the cartridge that not much space is was left for backgrounds. We can see this lack of background in the cave level:
But as a said, the game still looks good. The character design is great and even if a small number of pixels, they manage to look very different from each other (except Alex Kidd’s brother, that looks a lot like him, although it makes sense).
Now, for the sound effects and music, the game just excels. Maybe no game sounds as good as this on a Master System. The sound effects are what you expect, with high pitched tones to indicate jumps, water splashes when Alex Kidd hits the water, a exploding sound when an enemy is defeated, and so on, setting the feeling of the game. The music is great with a good variety of songs.
Simply put, this game is a must play. It is a great game, with depth and replayability, and shamefully, this is one of the most underrated games from its time. If you own a Master System and somehow haven’t play it, do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Alex Kidd in Miracle World.