Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX (Preview)

The original Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a platformer released on the Sega Master System back in 1986. The all-new Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX arrives today on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (via Steam). Yesterday, I received a game code to play the new game early and I was able to do so for a few hours last night. This is a very cool game for many reasons.

When I heard the name Alex Kidd I was semi-familiar with the name, but have no real memories with the game or character. There are two big reasons why I totally missed out on the Alex Kidd games as a kid. (1) I grew up a Nintendo kid and Alex Kidd was a Sega boy. My recollection of playing Sega games was on a friend’s Sega Genesis. Most of my friends were also Nintendo kids. (2) I was born a few months before the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World was released. Although I am a longtime gamer it did take a couple of years before I actually picked up a NES controller (babies have small hands).

LEARNING CURVE

When I first started playing Alex Kidd last night I had no idea whether the game would consist of multiple levels in a big world or one big never-ending level. I kept dying, and dying quick. I was unsure if I could even defeat enemies with punches or if I could only break boxes and bricks with my punches. Then, I found the Power Ring! I was unstoppable. I could shoot through boxes, enemies and anything that got in my way in one single shot. The only problem was the next time I died, I came back with no Power Ring (powerless and ringless).

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Trying to figure the game out early on and dying many times along the way (pre-Infinite Lives Mode).

Something I quickly learned was to turn on Infinite Lives in the options menu — it was a hint on the Game Over screen. There’s no shame in this, and it’s definitely needed (unless your some kind of Alex Kidd Wonderkid). It’s the same game, except you don’t have to go back to the very beginning after losing all of your lives.

On either mode (as long as you have lives to spare), anytime you die you go back to the nearest checkpoint — which is always pretty much where you died. I can’t imagine making it past one or two bosses, then losing all of your lives and having to start from the very beginning (of course, that was probably the way it was done in 1986). Without Infinite Lives mode I would have totally rage quit this game without making it out of the first level.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Post-Infinite Lives Mode

Another thing about this game is that Alex Kidd is very weak. Sure, he’s strong in that he can take out most of his enemies in one single blow, but he’s also vulnerable to just one single hit from an enemy. Getting too close to any enemy will kill Alex. This game is not for the weak-minded. I did find myself getting better at timing my punches throughout the game. By the end of the night I was punching all kinds of bad guys instead of running away and avoiding them at all costs — frogs, fish, mustachioed donuts and anyone else that came after me — except those fireballs above, those just need to be avoided.

BUY EVERYTHING

The Shop (Image from Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX website, Merge Games)

Something I quickly learned was any time I found a shop I would buy all of the items for sale. I still have no idea what many of them are used for, but it was still always better to be prepared to find out. The shops sell vehicles, weapons, shields, bubbles and more. However, each shop only has three items for sale at a time, but as long as you’re collecting some money on your journey you should always have more than enough to buy out the shop.

Anytime you come across a power ring that is a must buy (or must grab).

TWO GAMES IN ONE

Although this is an all-new re-animated version of the same original game (with some added modes, levels, bosses and more) you can also play the game in the old graphics style. It’s cool that you can instantly switch from one style to the other with the press of one button (ZR on Switch).

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Switching between 1986 and 2021 graphics

The way I figured this out was a pleasant surprise. I was trying out all of the buttons, looking for a shield or any other weapons or abilities and the game just went into the old style. I spent lots of time switching between the two just to compare the look of the Old vs New style.

Here are some screenshot comparisons of the same scene in both the old and new-style of graphics.

This new version of Alex Kidd sort of reminds me of a smaller Wreck-It Ralph. He’s not as large as Ralph, but he has a similar look. He could be the son of Wreck-It Ralph. I mean, he does love to punch and wreck stuff, so why not.

ART DIRECTION

Not only are the new graphics super fresh in this game I really enjoy the art direction when it comes to the menu layouts, the fonts and colors used and so much more. The font used for level names is very close to the one I use for my site (Marvin). It’s cool that they were able to take this 30+ year old game and reskin it to make it not only look, but also feel a game from today.

While the old game featured plain, solid color backgrounds — of course, it was 1986 — it’s nice to see big changes in the textures on everything from the ground to the backgrounds in each level in this newly redesigned version of the game.

ROCK. PAPER. SCISSORS.

An interesting part of this game was that the boss fights consist of Rock, Paper, Scissors (or Jan Ken Pon). For the first few bosses winning two out of three rounds of Rock Paper Scissors was enough to get rid of them. After a certain point the bosses became sore losers and when beat at Rock Paper Scissors they would end up attacking you anyways.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Boss Fight (Rock. Paper. Scissors)

Some boss fights got real tough. When first fighting the Gorilla Boss with his sword I couldn’t even figure out how to damage him for a bit. It wasn’t until I finally found a Power Ring that I figured out I had to wait for him to lift his weapon to be able to hurt him. This was one tricky fight, but I did finally defeat him as you can see below.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Gorilla Fight
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Balloon Boss Fight

If I didn’t have Infinite Lives on I would still be stuck in that first level. Infinite Lives mode just turns the game into something more like Celeste. You know you’re going to fail over and over again, but you’ll take more risks when you know that you’ll be starting almost where you left off, rather than at the very beginning.

When I was a kid playing games that was the way it was, you would lose your lives and begin all over again. Today, we have save data and don’t need to go through all of that. Also, games are much larger these days. Can you imagine putting in 40+ hours into a game like The Last of Us and then dying and having to start the whole thing over? (That is an option with Permadeath mode in The Last of Us: Part II)

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I think it’s good that I came into this game blind to the Alex Kidd universe. Sometimes coming back to an old franchise will either ruin it or make it feel better than it really is (due to nostalgia). I really did enjoy playing this game so far. Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX may be tough at times and frustrating, but it’s not maddening tough (as long as you’re using Infinite Lives mode).

It’s also a charming game to look at. The art style sort of feels like if they turned Gravity Falls into a video game. The detail in the newly redesigned graphics are beautiful, especially when compared to the simplicity of the older style.

I love that if I get stuck on a certain part I can switch in and out of the different styles (1986 and 2021) to see if that helps. In the first level, I used the old style to defeat the flying dragon creatures. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to get past an annoying or particularly tough boss.

I don’t know if I’ll beat this game, but I do hope to try. I definitely need to spend a few more hours in Miracle World.


Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (via Steam).
A review code was provided by Merge Games.

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