Review: Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – PS5, PS4

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a brand new remake of the original SEGA Master System game. Does it stand up to scrutiny all these years later? Find out in our review.


Alex Kidd was my first love. Not in the romantic sense, but in the fact it was the first video game that was ever my own. Others may prefer to call it my gateway drug, but whichever side of that fence you fall on, it’s an addiction I am still fighting to this day.

Game Information
Release Date: June 22nd, 2021
Developer: Merge Games/Jankemteam
Publisher: Merge Games
Availability: PSN, Retail – Buy on Amazon

So when the chance to review this latest iteration of a game so close to my heart I knew it was one I could not pass up, but after all these years does it still hold up? Is the first video game I ever properly played really all that good, or has time and nostalgia fogged my memory?

I’m sorry to say that it could well be the later.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World first released back in 1986, and I managed to nab it as a Christmas present. Coming built-in with my Sega Master System 2, it was a game I spent many hours with as I battled to try and free the citizens of Radaxion from the evil Janken.

Ever since I have always kept a special place in my heart for young Alex, but I always remember the game to be punishingly difficult. It is fair to say that my memory serves me well – Alex Kidd is tough. This little Radaxion rascal does not suffer fools gladly, so be warned.

When Alex Kidd first released, home consoles and games were still in their infancy with a lot of today’s user friendly features still years away. Games were designed to last a long time, so they built them to last by making them hard to beat – and Alex Kidd is up there among the toughest.

The difficulty in Alex Kidd is almost comically difficult. Miss a jump? Dead. Touch an enemy? Dead. Fail a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, required to best many of the game’s bosses? Dead.

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In the original, you had three precious lives, and once you lost them it was game over – no saving or checkpoints. Thankfully the remake does allow you to retry a stage should you be bested. You can even turn on infinite lives, though you will still die. Lots.

The older version of Alex Kidd is showpiece product of its time, perfectly encapsulating what made games of that era so attractive to youngsters – bright colours that almost hurt the eyes and a chirpy chip-tune soundtrack.

In this remake of Alex Kidd, you can switch between the new version and the original with the tap of a button, letting you see how the game used to be and what has changed. It never failed to satisfy my nostalgia, though the new version was my preferred way to play.

The updated Alex still maintains the charm of the original, and it does a good job of updating the art style while staying true to the original vision. Strangely, the new version feels like it plays a little easier than the original that is always running in the background. This could be purely psychological…

I could not go through this review without touching on Rock, Paper, Scissors, or as it is known in Alex Kidd, Jan-Ken-Pon. As a youngster, this felt like a game of chance (I now know that it isn’t), and it used to frustrate the hell out of me, and it still does today. Making real progress in the game to then feel like it is robbed by a game of chance still feels like a cheap shot, and it only adds to the frustration here.

A few other mechanics haven’t dated well either. Alex has a limited set of moves. He can run, jump and punch, which is fine, but the controls don’t feel as responsive as today’s finest platformers – it is far too easy to miss a jump and send Alex to his death. His punch attack has an extremely limited reach, too, which means you have to get right up close to an enemy to land a smack, but if you miss-time it or get too close, you’re dead again.

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If I had to describe Alex Kidd in one word, it would be “challenging.” If I had two words, you can bet I’d throw a naughty one in front.

I’m not against a good challenge, and it does feel rewarding when you eventually beat a boss or overcome a tricky platforming section, but too often the losses feel cheap and unfair, and this is what holds Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX back from being more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane. If you have fond memories of the platforming whipper-snapper, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a nice refresher and a little look back at gaming history. If this is your introduction to Alex Kidd, you might find its unforgiving platforming leaves a lot to be desired. It’s definitely one for the fans.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX PS5, PS4 Review
  • Overall - Not Bad - 5/10
    5/10
5/10

Summary

Alex Kidd is a tough platformer that lacks a lot of the user-friendly features we have all grown accustomed to. Back in my day, games used to be tough – or so Alex Kidd would have you believe anyway. For such a difficult game that is pretty linear, it is surprising that so many of us hold Alex in such high regard, and it is largely why I would only recommend this one to fans of the original.

Pros

  • Great trip down memory lane (if you’re old like me)
  • Some beneficial ease of use additions make it possible to actually beat
  • A few new modes give it some replay value
  • Charming new art style compliments the original

Cons

  • Platforming is as tricky as ever
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors sections are still infuriating
  • Feels quite dated in comparison to modern-day platformers – not so much Alex Kidd as Alex Grandad.

Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.

Primary version tested: PS5. Reviewed using PS5.

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