Welcome, one and all, to a review of the quintessential Sega Master System game. If you’ve owned a Master System II, you’ve owned this game. It’s almost unavoidable. The model I purchased had the title built in, for Pete’s sake! But this is scarcely a bad thing; the game is certainly excellent. Let’s go—into the world of Alex Kidd!
One day, as Alex was leaving Mt. Eternal (where he learned the art of Shellcore) for his spiritual homeland, he came across a dying man who told him the city of Radaxian was in great danger. Before taking his last breath, the man gave Alex a piece of a map and a medallion made of Sun Stone. What does it mean? The only way for Alex to find out is to journey through the Miracle World looking for answers.
This is a platformer not unlike Mario, though jumping on an enemy will get you killed. Alex’s primary weapon is a fierce punch; using the technique of “Shellcore,” Alex can defeat enemies and smash rocks blocking his path.
The controls are basic: Button 1 attacks, Button 2 jumps. The game feels very instinctive to play and hence the whole thing just flows—it feels like you’ve been playing it all your life. I personally have. Literally. But that’s beside the point. The reliance on the pause button to manipulate the inventory is a downer, as pressing the button all too frequently crashes your system. Such is the brilliance of ’80s technology.
There are 11 locations, comprising approximately 30 levels. The areas are sizable and diverse, with a focus on precision rather than combat. Alex can commandeer a total of three vehicles on his quest: a motorbike, boat and helicopter. This lends more variation to the game and keeps the player interested.
On his journey, Alex gathers currency from special treasure blocks, which can then be spent on a variety of items in the game’s many shops. This does not make the game too easy—far from it. Alex Kidd is a bit of a pansy, and the slightest touch will do him in. Sadly, some of the bosses in the game are really, really cheap. If you do not manage to find the “Telepathy Ball,” the Janken matches in the game become obscenely difficult and entirely based on luck. You see, almost all of the bosses challenge you to a game of scissors, paper, stone—this is a random game by nature and lets the game down a little. Thankfully, the Telepathy Ball lets you see what the villains are thinking, making the game less of a chore.
The music is a little repetitive, with about four tunes on circulation throughout the game. However, the music is certainly bearable. The sound effects are few, but appropriate. Visuals are colourful and tight, the sprites surprisingly detailed. There is a veritable menagerie of beasties out to get Our Alex, and every one of them is recognisable. This is an impressive feat for such archaic technology.
Unfortunately, this game has little replay value. It is very fun, though, and there is a secret level to find. The sheer fun of the game should bring you back a couple of times, but compared with modern rewards systems, it suffers.
If you own a Master System, the odds are that you already have this game. And if not, why not? It’s a classic.