Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX

A game by Jankenteam for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox S/X, originally released in 2021.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a remake of the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World, which was first released on the Sega Master System in 1986. The game is a platformer starring the eponymous Alex Kidd, a boy with monkey-like features, as he explores Miracle World and battles enemies. The popularity of the original game led to numerous sequels, with Alex Kidd taking his adventures into new worlds, across different genres, and even into crossover territory with Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. Until the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, Alex Kidd was Sega’s most recognizable and popular character, acting as something of a mascot for the company.
Even though he is just a boy, Alex is an expert in the martial art known as shellcore, which has made him powerful enough to smash rocks with his fists. One day, Alex learns that the city of Radaxian is in danger, and so he descends from his home and training grounds on Mount Eternal to rescue the son of the Radaxian ruler, as well as the son’s fiancée. To do this, Alex must face off against the minions of Janken the Great, each of whom has a hand for a head that is holding the gesture of a fist (rock), open hand (paper), or two fingers extended (scissors). And yes, boss battles are won by playing games of rock-paper-scissors, which is known in Japan as Janken.
The game is almost a screen-for-screen remake of the original, with level layouts and enemy placements that are virtually identical, but there are some important differences. The biggest change comes in the controls for Alex, which offer snappier movement, faster speed, and much less floaty jumps, making the character more responsive overall. There is also some new content, with entirely new levels added to the game, additional narrative elements and collectibles, an expanded soundtrack, and some tweaks to how the boss battles play out, all of which add a bit of nuance to the otherwise simple 8-bit experience.
Obviously, the graphics and animations have been changed drastically to give the game a modern look, offering the now-standard widescreen HD presentation. The player has the ability to swap between these new visuals and the original Master System graphics, although the format remains in widescreen mode. There is also a delay when swapping between these two styles, which interrupts the gameplay somewhat.
It’s worth pointing out that the way in which this game was modernized is philosophically different from how it was done with Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (another Sega classic from the Master System). In the remake of Wonder Boy III, the developer left the original gameplay entirely intact and overlaid new visuals on top of this. The result was that the game played identically to its 8-bit counterpart – with instantaneous swaps between visual styles – but it also meant that much of the shallowness of the gameplay carried over into the new version, including the overly simple boss battles.
For the DX version of Alex Kidd in Miracle World, the changes to the controls and some boss encounters have enhanced the gameplay slightly while generally maintaining the feel of the original, for better or worse. Even with these modifications, the unchanged level layouts mean that players will still experience the challenging difficulty of the original, along with some tough platforming sequences and cheap deaths. The game has not been balanced to align with modern design sensibilities, and so the game is still very much a straightforward representation of the original.
Alex can perform a very high jump, attack enemies and smash blocks with his fists at a short range (in a nice touch, he now has a 1-2 punch instead of always punching with the same hand), and he can duck and attack, but he cannot move while ducking. Alex can also swim underwater, but rather than the typical control scheme of repeatedly pressing the JUMP button to move upward, Alex is constantly floating upward, so the player must fight against this movement by pressing DOWN, which makes underwater navigation somewhat more difficult.
There are several powerups to be found by breaking blocks or by purchasing them shops, and most of these can be used on demand by selecting them in the pause menu. These powerups include temporary invincibility, projectiles that penetrate enemies and blocks, the ability to fly for a short distance, and a bunch of tiny versions of Alex that run around and attack enemies. But you must be careful when breaking question mark blocks, as these sometimes contain grim reapers that chase you through the level until you manage to scroll them off the screen, and they kill you if they touch you. There are also special grim reaper blocks that spawn reapers when you touch them, as well as skull blocks that temporarily stun you and leave you open to attack.
Death comes quickly in Miracle World, but checkpoints are frequent, and players have the option to enable infinite lives in the pause menu, although this option cannot be disabled once activated. The option for infinite lives is in place as something of a crutch, since all but the most experienced players will find themselves overwhelmed by the high difficulty level. Dedicated players can go old-school and try their hands at tackling the game with limited lives, with a very small number of extra lives to be found along the way… although skilled use of vehicles can make many levels much easier.
By killing enemies and breaking blocks, the player earns money, which can be spent in shops that appear in some levels, and money is abundant. In addition to the aforementioned powerups, these shops occasionally contain vehicles in the form of a scooter and gyrocopter, and there are also forced scrolling jet ski levels.
The scooter zips along the ground very quickly, and it can smash through enemies and stone blocks, but it is destroyed when it touches a large red marble… and once it’s gone, it’s gone. There’s no way to buy another one, so you must complete the remainder of the level on foot (or you can skip the purchase altogether and play the whole level on foot). It’s easy to make a mistake and lose the scooter, but players skilled in scootering will find that they can slice their way through these levels in just seconds.
The gyrocopter moves more slowly and requires the player to repeatedly press the JUMP button to keep it aloft. Water lines the bottom of these levels, so taking damage, touching the water, or bumping the propeller against a block will destroy the copter and send Alex falling into the water below where he must swim to complete the remainder of the level (the same is true of taking damage in jet ski levels), except on levels with poison at the bottom, which kills him. The player has a bit more control over his fate here as he can slowly advance, use the copter’s gun to shoot down enemies, and carefully navigate under blocks to collect the bags of money that appear frequently in these areas. For a breather, the player can set the copter down on any solid surface.
Enemy behaviors are basic, with most simply patrolling back and forth, but is this helpful given the limited range of your attacks. The rock paper scissors boss battles return here, and they are just as boring as they were in the original game (the patterns appear to be the same). Some bosses have specific strategies, such as never using a certain kind of attack, and if you have a telepathy orb in your inventory, you can see thought bubbles over their heads that show what attack they’re thinking of using… but they can change their minds at the last second so you have to stay on your toes.
There is a new graphical flourish during rock paper scissors battles which brings Alex and the boss up onto the screen as if it were a 1:1 fighting game, with JAN-KEN-PON being shouted, followed by an immediate win or loss depending on your selection. These battles are all best two out of three.
While the main bosses are still janken-style, the miniboss encounters have been enhanced. For instance, there’s a level with a bull that chases you, and rather than just punching it the face over and over until it dies, you now have to dodge out of the way when it charges and attack while it’s stunned. There’s also a guy with a sword that was once vulnerable during the entire battle, but now he can only be harmed when he’s about to attack.
Aesthetically, the art, animations, cutesy character designs, and effects are quite lovely, although a lot of areas are very bright and washed out compared to the bold darker palette of the original game. The new levels in the DX version are seamlessly integrated into the experience and are in line with the level designs in the original game. The narrative remains very simple, but a few new bits of story are spread throughout by way NPC interactions (many NPC’s have been turned to stone). Several new musical compositions have been added for the DX release, and these compliment the original soundtrack. The game also includes a classic mode without most of the changes made for the EX version, as well a boss rush mode.

2D CRED
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX was developed by Jankenteam, a team based in Spain who collaborated specifically to develop this game. The team's name is a take on Janken, the Japanese term for rock paper scissors. The development team is made up of of artist Héctor Toro, designer José Sanz, programmer Daniel Parrado Ortega, musician José Ramón Garcia “Bibiki” López, and producer Ramón Nafria. The original game was developed and published by Sega for the Sega Master System.
The game was published by Merge Games, based in Manchester, UK. The studio previously published The Joylancer: Legendary Motor Knight, Sparklite, and Morbid: The Seven Acolytes, among others. The studio also published the European releases of The Binding of Isaac, Limbo, and Slain, and the console versions of Runbow, Dead Cells, Moonlighter, Children of Morta, and Streets of Rage 4, among numerous other titles.


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