I was born in 1998, which was a pretty significant year for video games. Just some of the games that launched that year include Crash Bandicoot, Metal Gear Solid and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t love the idea of me and my siblings playing games all day. So, for the longest time we didn’t have any means of playing them. It now means that I can never really refer to myself as a “retro-gamer”. It’s safe to assume then, that I never played the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World. But, when I was given the opportunity to play its remake, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, I figured it was a good way of finally getting into the retro gaming sphere. However, having now played it, I realise how lucky I was to have never played the original in the first place.
“The developers of Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX failed to understand how to turn an antiquated classic into a modern masterpiece.”
Alex Kidd in Miracle World released all the way back in 1986. The very first Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated, Top Gun became the highest-grossing film of that year, and Argentina beat West Germany 3 – 2 at the World Cup finals. Oh, and video games kind of sucked. Sure, this was a momentous year for video game history. Heck, titles such as Metroid and The Legend of Zelda released that very year. But in my opinion, a lot of these games fail to hold up nowadays. That’s unsurprising as the technology that allows players to transport to different worlds within seconds in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, or to experience photorealistic cinematic masterpieces such as The Last of Us Part II, simply didn’t exist.
Unfortunately, nowadays, the gameplay mechanics and visual aesthetics of a lot of these older titles feel significantly outdated. It’s why we see a lot of remakes popping up all over the shop. Titles like the Spyro Reignited Trilogy prove that remakes can transform classic titles into brilliant games for a new audience. But much like Disney’s failed attempts at understanding how to best innovated upon their classic films, it would seem that the developers of Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX failed to understand how to turn an antiquated classic into a modern masterpiece.
“It retains all the things so horribly wrong with old games, and only really innovates in the visual department.”
Much of the old-school design is prevalent here in Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX. You die by simply touching the enemy, who tend to have unreasonably large hitboxes. Your attack range is so short that your best bet is to stand in place and smash the attack button. Most encounters were just me hoping I didn’t get caught in-between animation frames. If you lose all your lives in a level, you restart from the very beginning. Some masochist decided having just three lives seemed more than enough for you to get through entire levels. Apparently there was at least one sane person working at the development studio as you have the option to turn on unlimited lives if you’re struggling. But even they were feeling a little evil when devising such a lifesaver. For whatever reason, you can’t switch off unlimited lives without starting a brand new save.
Need I go on? Alex Kidd in Miracle World retains all the things so horribly wrong with old games. The only place it really innovates in is the visual department. And sure, the visuals and music are pretty great, with the design for Alex himself looking pretty snazzy. But it seems a little brash of SEGA to label this a “Remake” when all that’s been changed are the visuals. There has been no attempt at updating the antiquated gameplay, no meaningful effort to make this a more approachable title. Instead, this is a frustrating slog of a game that takes a serious toll on one’s mental state.
“If you’ve never experienced Alex Kidd in Miracle World, then I can assure you, you’re missing absolutely nothing by passing on its remake.”
I get why people love older titles. Sure, there’s the element of rose-tinted glasses, but I do think there’s more to it. When my siblings and I were finally allowed games we would always play Spider-Man 2 for the PC. In my mind, it played, looked and felt like Spider-Man 2018 for the PS4. People aren’t misremembering old games. It’s just that when they played them they were the pinnacle of innovation and invention within the video game sphere at that time. I’m sure that those who loved the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World felt the same way.
But if you didn’t experience these classic titles when they were new, then not only are you going to lack the requisite amount of nostalgia needed to enjoy it, but you’re also not going to have known a time when playing it felt like a peak gaming experience. I never got to experience what it felt like to play Alex Kidd in Miracle World in 1986. But I have experienced what it’s like to play it in 2021. Honestly, it’s not fun. If you’re a fan of the original game, maybe play it. Although according to reviews the game apparently misses the mark on faithfully recreating a lot of what made it great. But if you’ve never experienced Alex Kidd in Miracle World, then I can assure you, you’re missing absolutely nothing by passing on its remake.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PS4, code was provided by the publisher.