Initially, I was psyched to play and review Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX. It’s a gorgeous-looking remake, has extra levels and remastered music, and additional modes not found in the original. Sadly, the title, much like Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World, sticks too closely to the template of the Master System game. Instead of improving frustrating elements of its original design, the developers of this revamped Alex Kidd decided to splash a new coat of paint on the old game (for the most part) and call it a day.
A smattering of merits
Let’s start with what Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX does right. Story-wise, I was invested in the land of Radaxian and wanted to see Alex heal the people of the kingdom who had turned to stone. The game looks amazing and is well animated. The music sounds great in its remastered form. At any point, players can switch to an 8-bit take on the art and tunes with the touch of a button. Auto-saves are implemented so you don’t have to beat the whole adventure in one go. And most importantly, infinite lives is an option. You’ll see why this is once you start playing.
You’ll notice some enraging difficulty spikes right off the bat in the first level. For starters, Alex’s main move is a punch that only connects with foes inches from his face. This wouldn’t be too bad if the smallest pixel of an enemy didn’t cause instant death, but it does. Fortunately, there are gold boxes with stars on them that give Alex power-ups, like a ring that shoots fireballs from a distance. Unfortunately, these crates might randomly send a reaper after you, whom you can only outrun if you scroll forward to the next screen fast enough. It’s inconsiderate game design.
You might get excited during the second level, seeing as there is a shop where you can spend any money you have come across. A bike is one of the things you can purchase, and then you can speed through the level, smashing through all adversaries in the way — until you hit a small obstacle. Then your scooter will explode, forcing you to hoof it on foot again. Damn, Alex Kidd, I was almost having fun for a second!
Janken is the devil
Janken, known to us westerners as Rock-Paper-Scissors, is such a terrible concept as it gets its own section of Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX. Sometimes, Alex will reach the end of a stage and come face to face with a boss. The only way to defeat them is through a game of janken. There’s only one problem. You can only see and manipulate Alex’s hand. You can’t predict what the boss is going to pick unless you obtained an item that shows their leanings. This means it’s all a game of chance. If you guess wrong twice, you lose a life, and guessing right twice is the only way to proceed.
I’m absolutely confounded over this mechanic having no change from the original whatsoever. It could have been rectified by always showing what the opponent is thinking. (The item you can use shows them switching back and forth, so there’s some nice strategy involved there.) Or you could make a janken victory reward you with a bonus item and simply let you move on if you lose. As it stands, gamers will have to utilize a guide with all the correct guesses if they want to save themselves from migraines.
No miracles to be seen in Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a disappointment. You’ll constantly groan as an enemy’s toe causes you instant death. Eyes will roll when you overshoot a jump or slide off a platform. Any enthusiasm you get with vehicles will evaporate once they explode with the slightest hit, leaving Alex to swim or walk the rest of the level. And janken may very well cause you to quit the game altogether.
When remaking something that is hard on an old console, developers should try to fix any unfair elements while keeping the spirit of the original alive. If you don’t bother to touch those things up, you’ll end up with mediocrity, time and again. Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is just that. While the title looks stunning, has nostalgic collectibles to gather, and includes a Classic Mode and Boss Rush Mode as extras, all that extra fluff means nothing if the game itself is fundamentally broken. Ah, what could have been.
A review code for Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX was provided by the publisher.