Sega’s Lost Mascot
Sega’s first real and now lost mascot holds a place dear to my heart. As Nintendo was hitting huge heights in the 80s due to some amazingly creative games, they also had a fantastic marketing hero in their corner. Yes the Italian plumber Mario, previously know as Jump man was boosting sales left right and centre for Nintendo across Japan and the USA. Sega’s console followed a year later with the release of the Sega Master System (Mark III in Japan). With fantastic arcade ports and stunning visuals, Sega also needed a mascot to help boost sales and have their own character in the exclusives. An early semi mascot Opa Opa from the Fantasy Zone games were used but Opa Opa was not up to the task of matching Mario or even that familiar across other countries. So Alex Kidd was born!
Alex Kidd started off very well in his first game Alex Kidd in Miracle world. A Japanese TV series along with other merchandise was produced, Sega had seemingly come up with a mascot to compete with their rival Mario at Nintendo. Unfortunately Alex stared in some poor games following this release which caused Sega to rethink their mascot and Alex was put on the bench so to speak. A spiky blue creature would emerge from the shadows and finally Sega had what they were looking for. (More on that character another time 😉 ) Alex was seemingly forgotten in Europe and the U.S up until recently when he has popped up in a few games for cameo appearances.
To celebrate Alex Kidd I am going to run through some playthroughs of all the Alex Kidd games I own and give my thoughts on each one.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World – Released 1986
A great way to start for Alex in this huge 17 level platformer. The game required you jump obstacles, take on various enemies whilst collecting money for buying power ups and specials items to aid Alex through the game. Vehicles and magic items would help Alex with certain levels but most levels could be completed without these items.
The first level of the game is a nice way to get you into it, bashing blocks and punching enemies in the face (right in the face, oh yes!) before finishing off in a water section
The first stage is where you’ll unlock the most prised upgrade, the power bracelet. I forgot how good this item was for clearing a line of blocks and enemies out all in one go. When pressing the punch button a energy burst would be released in a horizontal line from where Alex punches, destroying all destructible objects. To use collected items you would have to press the pause button on the Master System itself to bring up the map and the item select screen.
As you progress through the first stage, you’ll end up dropping down into water. Another great bit of level design getting the player (and me again 🙂 ) use to controlling Alex in the water stages. Playing again today I realised that the water stages were fairly tough but helped me get my control and timing a lot sharper. (Destroying them octopus tentacles were a nightmare for that secret!) One hit and Alex looses a life which is tough but thankfully he starts with three.
Another familiar part of Alex Kidd in Miracle World is the game music. The first stage is literally stuck in my head forever. I can bet nearly everyone that has played Miracle World a few times could hum that first level stage music. dum dum de dum, dum dum de dum…..ok enough of that now
Each level ends when Alex collects an Onigiri (rice ball with seaweed) I always thought it was more like a tri-force as a kid but thanks to the internet I actually found out what it was. This ends the level and brings you back to the map screen showing your next route.
Its the second stage that introduces the first shop and vehicle if you choose to purchase it. Its the motor bike. Yes for a mere 200 credits Alex can part with his hard earned cash and zoom through the level.
With most of the transport in Miracle World you have to avoid hitting the red blocks as this will cause Alex to loose his vehicle. Again great game design means that you can still complete the level it will just be slower going.
Ending the second stage Alex encounter the first boss which is where the only real negative points of the game are for me. The strangest thing about the boss battles is that the games perfectly balanced flow is broken up. The first boss battle boils down to blind luck with a “stone, paper , scissors game”. Without playing the game a few times and remembering the pattern, you just have to choose what you think the bosses will use. Alex will fight the Stone, Scissors and Paper bosses twice each throughout the game before the last boss Janken.
On the second time of meeting the bosses you have to beat them again but this time their head will detach and move around the screen in a random pattern. Timing is everything here and one well timed punch to the face (yes the face again) and the boss will be defeated.
Each level in Miracle World is beautify designed, with Alex travelling through forests, volcano’s, grasslands and castles.
One of the memorable fun stages to play again is when Alex has to use the the flying helicopter cycle thing. As long as you dont touch the blades on a block or in later stages hit by lightening you can keep the helicopter going by repeatedly tapping the button
The final battle Alex must face Janken in the last game of paper, stone scissors before finding the crown to reverse the evil magic that Janken had let loose on Miracle world.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a fantastic game in Sega’s catalogue and one they can be proud of. Alex Kidd was Sega’s new mascot and what a game to begin with. If you have not played the game it can go for a fair price now these days in cartridge form on auctioning sites but can be found built in to the Sega Master System v 1.2 or Sega Master System 2 which may work out cheaper. The main story continues in a sequel for the Sega Mega Drive which i will playthrough in another part and give my thoughts.
Thanks for reading and your support,its very much appreciated and glad to know there are other retro gamers out there 🙂 Please feel free to post any comments or memories on any of my covered games