Out for all major consoles as well as PCs, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is the latest in a growing line of revivals for classic console titles. Is this one worth picking up? Our review is based on the PlayStation version of the game.
Games like the recent Wonder Boy titles have shown us that the retro appeal of classic franchises is alive and well, and today we’re looking at Alex Kidd’s return after a 30 year hiatus, during which we only saw cameos in games like Sonic All-Stars Racing. Alex Kidd’s heyday was during Sega Master System era that started in the mid 1980s, and Miracle World was the game that kickstarted it all. It’s been ported to modern systems by Jankenteam – named after one of the game’s characters – and features several modern touches on top of the classic gameplay.
Classic? Absolutely. Before Sonic emerged as Sega’s poster child, Alex Kidd was the console maker’s most recognizable face – something that’s no doubt lost on many gamers today, who see him as a cameo character from an obscure past and not much more than that. For older gamers, he’s a retro blast from the past. An era in which you had limited lives, and simple controls due to a lack of buttons on your gamepad.
Played in classic 1986 mode, the game is a carbon copy of the original, which is nice for nostalgic reasons. Level layouts are the same, as are the enemies and where you’ll encounter them. Controls are a little on the clunky side, but definitely feel authentic because of it as well. In a similar way, hit boxes feel distinctly ‘retro’ as well, and some enemy confrontations can feel overly challenging. If frustration is what you end up feeling because of it, then there’s always the option to switch to infinite lives as well, which combined with semi-regular checkpoints makes this a platformer that enthusiasts shouldn’t have too much trouble with.
You can also fast forward to 2021 at the press of a (shoulder) button, and see what the developers have done to the original audio and video. While this doesn’t change the gameplay, level layout of enemy behavior, it does give the game a far more modern look. Cute cartoon-like animations feel modern while retaining the feel of the original art, and backgrounds are far more detailed and colorful. Characters feel like they have more personality thanks to improved detail and animations, and without going ‘next gen’ in any kind of way, this retro-modern approach works very well.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX also comes with a revamped soundtrack, with richer versions of the original chip tune music that fits the fresh new look of the game while still evoking memories of those classic ditties from the mid-eighties. It’s a shame there isn’t any museum-like content to explore out of the game as well, as I would have loved to browse art, sound samples and character iterations, just to name a few things.
This port is relatively by the book, which means newcomers will easily notice the shortcomings of the game that people with nostalgia for the original will overlook. It’s lovely to see Alex Kidd again though, and we’re hoping we’ll see him again in new adventures.