Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX Review (PS4)
Published: Merge Games
Release Date: June 22nd,2021
Platforms: Playstation 4/Xbox One/Windows/Switch
*Game provided to me by Merge Games
''A classic with some problems''
Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX is a remake of the classic SEGA title from 1986 that is developed by Jankenteam and published by Merge Games. After a long hiatus, Alex Kidd is finally back and ready to go once more. But its been so long since his last adventure, does this game still hold up to modern standards and bring life to this seemingly forgotten franchise? only one way to find out, so, lets go!
A young martial artist named Alex Kidd learns of a villain named Janken the Great who has defeated King Thunder of the city of Radaxian and who has kidnapped his son, Prince Egle and Egle's fiancée Princess Lora. Discovering that he is the lost son of King Thunder, Alex sets out to rescue the kingdom.
Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX is a weird game when you sit and think about it. Currently there are a lot of games making their comeback by getting remakes like Monster Boy and Wonder Boy series getting revitalized for a new generation to enjoy and mostly being received with more praise than gripes, but Alex Kidd is a bit of a mixed bag. Alex Kidd does do what it set out to do in respects to taking the original 1986 game and giving it a much needed facelift and I have to say, graphically it looks really damn good, colors pop out, animations are top notch and music is really catchy too. Gameplay wise everything that was enjoyable about the original game is also present here with its level variety going from typical platformer to side scrolling shooter that can make the usual pacing really fun and helps to make sure that what you're playing doesn't get too repetitive or boring. But not everything in this remake is all sunshine and rainbows, far from it. I'll get to why that is in the first place, but first I want to talk a tiny bit about just what type of platformer this game actually is.
Alex Kidd DX is a typical and standard platform that has you moving from left to right fighting enemies here and there, avoiding obstacles and hazards and ending each section of the game with a ''boss fight''. Why did I type boss fight in that matter? well that's because the boss fights in this game aren't really what you imagine when you say the word boss fight. Sure there are a few traditional ones to be fought in this game like the end game boss or fighting wild boars, but most of your encounters will involve you playing a round of Paper-Rock-Scissors against one of Janken's soldiers. This is pretty funny at first but soon outstays its welcome quickly because should you fail to win at this game of chance, you are killed for failing and having only three lives to use throughout the entire game, it can make for some really frustrating times. This makes the game seem harder than it really is. I've seen a lot of people praise this game for its difficulty but honestly, I think they have the wrong perception of what ''difficulty'' actually is. In my point of view difficulty is a game that requires you to use your wits, skills and trial and error your way through obstacles and learn from your mistakes and overcome your self errors. However here in Alex Kidd DX, the game is your worst enemy, not yourself. The developers try to counter this by giving you infinite lives as an option, but still doesn't fix the core problems the game itself has.
Even though this game is extremely short and I mean really really short, with my own playthrough clocking in under one hour total, the games length can actually be extended do to the way the game controls and plays. This isn't a positive, but a pretty bad negative in my opinion. The problem here with Alex Kidd DX is that it doesn't improve on the 1986's games control scheme like remake titles such as Wonder Boy Dragons Trap or Asha in Monster World do for their respective titles. Instead Alex Kidd keeps the stiffness and slippery controls of the original game and just gives it a fresh coat of paint. I really think this was a bad move overall and makes platforming such as jumping on simple ledges a nightmare due to limited character control. Try jumping on a blue bubble? you'll slide right off, ok so then you readjust your next jump but you over compensate for the controls and under jump it with an invisible wall not letting your character move properly. At times I thought I was having input lag or that my tv was not in game mode because of how awkward the controls feel. The same issue crops up when you're underwater and by default, your character automatically moves up instead of staying stationary, making you adjust to how the game wants you to play based off its own control scheme, rather than making you feel like the character is in your control, with the worst case of this being is under water spikes towards the end of the game. It's all very frustrating, but over time, it does get manageable after you get used to it. But it shouldn't be that way, if I'm going to be honest. But there's not only bad in this game, there are actually some bright spots believe it or not.
Much like games of the past like Dragon's Trap, you're able to switch on the fly from modern day graphics to the art style of the 1986 title at any point in your adventure. I've always loved when titles like this utilize this feature because it gets to show you just how far gaming has come throughout all these years and makes you appreciate what developers from the past were able to pull off with limited hardware capabilities. It also lets you appreciate the love and dedication newer developers put in to bringing an old world to life and make it more vibrant than ever, which is definitely the case here in Alex Kidd DX. Everything in Alex Kidd DX pops out at you with its colors and the level design is actually pretty good. One moment you're In a volcanic like area trying to survive and the next you're in the air in a tiny airship shooting down enemies in the sky. The variety of each stage presented from under water, to caverns to temples and castles are all done really well and they all look extremely polished and updated from their 1986's counter part. This is where Alex Kidd DX is at its strongest. Another strength this title has going for it is the selection of upgrades at your disposal during your playthrough that can make things maybe go a little bit more smoothly. Sure there aren't a huge variety of them but they still come in handy. Such as being able to stop between missions and buy a go kart to speed through levels, well until you crash into a wall like I did, buy a small plane to cheat levels and fly over them or purchase a pink bubble which basically gives you invincibility for a limited amount of time. This power up is good for specific boss fights where a lot of stuff is coming at you on screen and allows you to take out an enemy within 10 seconds if used properly. It makes boss fights way easier than what they would be without it, so try to use the power up at just the right time and not too early.
When you're done playing the normal game, the ''fun'' is not over just yet. While the main game may be beaten in about an hour, there are still some things you're able to do after completing it ,such as playing in classic mode or even a boss rush mode. With classic mode, you're able to play the original 1986 game in all its glory. Do you remember playing it on the master system back in the day? well welcome back nostalgia because its the same game you know and love, for better or for worse. Its a really cool feature and one I hope developers in the future from other companies take into account and add into their games as well. Boss Rush mode can also be pretty fun if you enjoyed the boss fights in the game, however, it can also be pretty annoying since boss rush mode doesn't just include fighting the bosses themselves, but instead makes you play Paper-Rock-Scissors again vs them all. This means you have to either get lucky at a guessing game or memorize a specific pattern just to be able to enjoy boss rush mode. I feel that should've been left out of the mode and it should've been strictly fighting only. Having to play a guessing game where one mistake equals your death throws off the pacing quite a bit, but that's just my opinion.
At the end of the day Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX is an extremely mixed bag for me. On one hand I appreciate a classic like this coming back and for Alex Kidd to get the love he deserves. Even after playing this title, I want a brand new entry into this franchise, for real, I'd play it. However, while I like the level design, music, animations and additions such as switching to older retro graphics, the negatives far outweigh the positives for me. With the game being extremely short, a guessing game being the reason why you might get a game over, controls that feel slippery when landing on a platform which throws off your timing, making you over compensate for your movements, only then to be hit by an invisible wall, stopping all forward momentum, I personally cannot in my heart say I recommend this game at its asking price for $20. When this game drops to around $10 price point on Switch/PS4/PC then I say go for it and have a great time with it, but from a personal stand point, there are just too many problems I had with it that I felt it lacked in to warrant a full price purchase and that really sucks because I love platformers and especially revivals. Hopefully Jankenteam comes back with a full on new entry and gives us an Alex Kidd that truly wows us once more. There's promise here that they definitely can do it, but will it happen remains to be seen. So with all this being said, my verdict is clear. GameNChick Says WAIT