Long before Sonic became synonymous with the Mega Drive and all things SEGA, it was originally supposed to be a cheeky monkey fella by the name of Alex Kidd who was supposed to rival Mario. Originally launching for the Master System and receiving sequels in short time, the series provided a wholesome but notoriously challenging platformer experience. In the end though it was Sonic that managed to substantially distinguish itself from the Mario style platforming.
Still, Alex Kidd has forged a legacy and place in the halls of video game history, and in 2021 his very first adventure gets the remake treatment. Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX on Xbox reintroduces a classic to a modern audience.
The game was originally released for the Master System back in 1986, created to be a direct rival to Super Mario Bros. on the NES. The new and improved DX edition largely retains the core design and gameplay principles, which means you’re going to be in for a very tough and trying platforming experience. Unlike in 1986 however, there are several quality-of-life improvements here aside from the remade visuals; they being save points, more frequent checkpoints, and even an option to turn on unlimited lives. Although this does not change the difficulty of the experience, the main difference is that unlimited lives allow you to retry from the same checkpoint as many times as you want, rather than going back all the way to the start of the stage after a game over screen.
While the key artwork isn’t all too appealing, the remade visuals look great, making use of fluid pixelated sprites and detailed backgrounds. The cool part is that by pressing the right trigger on the Xbox controller you are able to switch between the modern and classic graphical style, a feature similar to what we saw in the remake and remaster of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. In other words, the new graphical style is superimposed over the original 1986 game. This can get a little tricky as the hitbox of the newer character model doesn’t align perfectly, which means on some of the dicier sections the classic visual style affords more precision and accuracy.
What makes the hit detection especially challenging is that Alex’s primary attack is a punch, which requires him to get dangerously close to his foe. Which is why early on it is very easy to accidentally touch an enemy and die before you even register your attack. This has a bit of a learning curve when playing with the remade visuals, and it’s a little easier to measure the punch distance when playing with the original graphics. Although Alex can pick up a few new tricks, such as being able to fire punches like a projectile, for the most part a lot of practice is needed to nail the timing of the punch attack just right.
- Up Next: The 8 games you should be playing on your Xbox in June 2021
- Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX gets confirmed release date and Signature Edition
- Alex Kidd is back as Miracle World DX is announced for Xbox, PlayStation, PC and Switch
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, even with newer visuals and other modern comforts, is as tough as they come. This is largely due to the highly sensitive hit detection, which leaves little to no room for error. Given that our hero dies instantaneously upon even the slightest contact with anything hazardous, this can prove to be quite frustrating especially during some of the tighter sections. It’s a lot more testing than Crash Bandicoot even. Still, there is a sense of reward and achievement that comes with practice.
As tough as it is, the level design in the game is strong and engaging, with a great deal of variety in terms of level themes and fun gimmicks such as the vehicular sections. The game has a brisk pace, with none of the levels outstaying their welcome. There are light adventure elements too, such as an item shop. There’s no shortage of gameplay variety, and the levels are vibrant and memorable in their own right. The boss battles are charming too, especially those that involve the high stakes encounter of rock, paper, scissors.
Although it never had the same coolness as Sonic the Hedgehog, there is no shortage of charm or personality in Alex Kidd. In fact, the project actually started as a video game adaptation of the Dragon Ball anime series, before transforming into the original IP we all see today. There is a charming ‘80s style anime aesthetic to it, and the redone music in this edition sounds great.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX on Xbox is a fun and charming reintroduction to one of gaming’s oft-forgotten but still influential platforming icons. The game is tough to be sure, and is very old school and dated in some of its design conventions, but the quality-of-life improvements and the visual facelift help modernise this classic platformer. Anyone looking for a textbook platformer with charming gameplay variety will enjoy the level design and challenge featured, although the sensitivity of the hit detection can present quite a frustrating learning curve. Hopefully, the rest of the games in the Alex Kidd series receive a similar remake treatment.
You can grab the nostalgic hit of Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX on Xbox via the Xbox Store