Alex Kidd was, pretty obviously, Sega's attempt at creating a character to challenge Nintendo's Super Mario, given that their consoles were in direct competition with each other. And, for a few years there, the attempt seemed to be paying off, with a series of successful games featuring the cute young scamp.
I never got to play them, having not been able to own a console of that generation. I never got to play Super Mario games either, but I've mentioned that already. Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a pretty decent stab at a Mario-esque game, with jumping and swimming and hidden cash and so on, but with elements of Sega's own Wonder Boy in Monster Land thrown in.
It is, however, more difficult to play than Super Mario Bros. That's entirely down to the controls... Alex is more floaty and slidey than Mario which can lead to a bit of frustration, particularly when it comes to timing jumps. Many's the time I tried to drop off a ledge only to fly much further and land right on a bird.
It would be nice if the game would let you swim over those blocks...
There's also a little bit too much trial and error involved. There are times when you'll have to drop off a ledge into the unknown, and just hope that you won't land on an enemy. This is especially worrisome, as you only have three lives and it seems to be very difficult to earn more.
Also discouraging is the fact that you don't get any points until you complete the level you're on. And your score is not displayed on the actual game screen. The game could do with throwing the player a bit more of an obvious reward than that.
That's a lot of negatives, I realise that. For all that, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a pretty entertaining and very challenging game, and a decent way to start a series. I'm interested, now, in seeing how the series developed, if it got better and if any of these kinks were ironed out. I'm particularly interested in checking out Alex Kidd in Shinobi World...