Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Review
Follow Genre: Platformer
Developer: Merge Games, Jankenteam
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch
Tested on: PS5, Switch

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Review

Site Score
4.0
Good: Visuals
Bad: Controls, Mechanics, So-called improvements that actually make things worse
User Score
7.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Alex Kidd in Miracle World; we reckon this name is often uttered with a lot of nostalgia-induced memories linked to it. The game is remembered fondly by many, but often only when wearing rose-tinted glasses. Let’s be honest here: if we called this title the frustration of a generation, we wouldn’t be exaggerating. Alex Kidd in Miracle World was (and is) a tough-as-nails experience that was not that accessible for the faint of heart. Many attempted to beat the game, but very few gamers made it. Heck, there are probably people who saw the initial release actually still trying to beat this piece of retro frustration. Nonetheless, it also made a name for itself and still had a certain charm. Now, we arrive at the DX version, which is basically a remake of the original. Sadly, we found the same frustrating experience as we found when playing the original version, with extremely wonky and slippery controls and random and annoying boss fights, albeit accompanied by a massive visual upgrade.

Story

Unlike the original, this game throws you in a world where an evil ruler is now wreaking havoc. You have to step up to the plate, and fulfill your destiny. Of course, there’s more to the story than this, but most of it is an incoherent mess, with people turning into statues, you having to fight evil generals with hand-shaped heads by playing rock-paper-scissors and go through a bit more dialogue with spelling errors. Overall, it’s a mess, and it’s best to just ignore the plot that was uselessly added to a game that didn’t need a real story to begin with.

Graphics

This ‘new’ rendition of the 80s classic will certainly draw in many nostalgic fans thanks to its phenomenal visuals. The game simply looks amazing when it comes to the overall sprite designs and its backdrops. The items and overall platforms look a bit less impressive but are still nice to look at. This is a very good remake when looking at the graphical quality of the game, and shows that this team did have a lot of good ideas. You can also play in the retro mode, which shows you the graphics of the original 1986 title, but still a bit spruced up, and not exactly the same. It’s a filter, rather than the actual original game.

Sound

The music of this DX version is fairly okay, but nothing that truly gets you going for the rest of the day. Some tracks tend to loop extremely fast, which might be annoying if you die a lot. The sound effects do their job, but once again do not add that much value. When playing in the retro mode, the music and effects also change, but this is just a trinket in the grand scheme of this remake.

Gameplay

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is, just like the original, an old-school platformer, with a few boss fights sprinkled in-between. The game has you die instantly when touching a hazard or an enemy, and it also relies heavily on luck for certain boss battles. Other than that, it utilizes simple controls, with Alex just being able to jump and punch his enemies, but also use items (which are never explained what they actually do). You’ll have to play through a fairly big set of poorly designed levels, to make it to the end and fulfill your destiny. You can either play with your normal three-live counter, to continue at the start of your current level if you lose them all, or you can play with infinite lives. The latter will not allow you to get all trophies or achievements.

With the concept and the overall offset, there’s nothing wrong with the game at all. With the general execution, however, there is so much wrong it truly detracts from the otherwise fun experience the DX version could have been. Right off the bat, you’ll notice the very dated level design that is based on precision. Again, nothing truly wrong with that, but then you start traversing through the world, and you notice how bad the controls are. This game requires precision, but its controls are the equivalent of navigating a pogo-stick on a greased-up floor. More than often you will land your jump perfectly, to still slide off the platform. Other times, you’ll get killed by poorly designed hitboxes, or simply because gravity makes no sense in the game. Sometimes, when falling down from a platform, instead of falling down in a straight line, you still fall at a certain angle, dying instantly from touching an enemy. At other times, for example during the boss battle with the raging bull, you will get killed when it comes too close (not even touching you), but when you actually want to damage it when it’s stunned, you have to step inside the hitbox that killed you earlier. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Perhaps novel in 1986 and 1987, but the rock-paper-scissors boss battles are just absolutely tedious. You’ll make your way at the end of the level, only for you having to guess the right action (rock, paper, or scissors) in a best out of three battle. If you lose, you’ll lose a life, and restart at the last checkpoint. When not playing with unlimited lives, you might find yourself having to redo the entire stage you just went through because you died in a rock-paper-scissors match. While it is good that the game now has proper checkpoints, losing all your lives also means you lose all your money. When this happens, you lose the ability to purchase items at the start of levels you might respawn in. Then again, these items are never explained what they do (or are not even named for that matter). It all feels like this was okay more than 30 years ago, it just feels lazy and clunky for a 2021 rendition of a game. It would have been nice to have an emulated version of the old one, to then play a spruced up and improved version that falls in line with today’s standards.

Conclusion

Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a decent homage to a true classic when looking at it from a graphical point of view. In terms of gameplay, this game is a complete abomination by today’s standards. We would have just preferred if the Miracle World DX version came with the option to play the real original, rather than just a retro filter smeared on top of the new game. This would have allowed the new game to improve upon the mechanics and items of the old game, with better controls, less annoying boss battles, decent dialogue, and other updates. As it stands now, it feels like a very bad port of the original, albeit with a very pretty visual upgrade and some non-sensical changes. This one may be fun for fans of the original, but for newcomers, this is just one hot frustrating mess. We cannot see anyone getting a lot of fun by navigating a character that feels as if he’s walking on ice while getting randomly killed by hitboxes that are twice the size of the enemies and then finally end up playing a random game of rock-paper-scissors that might end up killing you.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | Within the Blade – Review
    August 1, 2021, 00:02

    […] stage. Nonetheless, not every game hits that nostalgia-infused sweet spot, as was the case with the Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX. Now, we cloak ourselves in darkness, preparing to cut off limbs in Within the Blade on PS5. […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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