This week's episode of The SEGA Lounge is a very special one as we look back at 35 years of Alex Kidd. 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the release of Alex Kidd in Miracle World and I thought the best way to celebrate the occasion would be to invite some of my friends from the community to share their memories of past games and their expectations toward the future of the series.
This week we're celebrating the 35th anniversary of Alex Kidd. Yes, 2021 marks 35 years since the release of Alex Kidd in Miracle World, which launched in late 1986 in Japan. I decided to make this special episode in the vein of the "Best of SEGA in 2020" one we had earlier this season. This means I invited some of my friends from the SEGA community to answer some questions and share their memories of Alex Kidd as a series.
Joining me for this trip down memory lane are Dan "The Mega" Driver, one half of the amazing SEGAGUYS, RadioSEGA legend Gavvie, the oh so very sexy Graham Cookson of Mega Visions and SEGA Nerds, Lewis Clark, aka SonicYoda, of SEGA Driven, Matt Oliver, co-owner of Shenmue Dojo, Brazilian PR king and absolute SEGA fanatic Renato Almeida, aussie legend SEGA Master Tim, Portuguese YouTuber St1ka, radio personality Tom Campbell, the very talented and lovely Twitch streamer, YouTuber and presenter TristaBytes, and SEGA Bits writer Patrick "Kori-Maru" Gardner.
You may be wondering why I decided to make this anniversary episode so early into the year. Well, first of all, there's another big anniversary coming up soon. It seems a certain blue rodent is turning 30 next month and I didn't want that to get in the way of Alex Kidd's celebration. Also, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is coming out in June and I wanted to get people's perspectives on the series so far as well as learn what their expectations are for this remake. With that said, I hope you enjoy this documentary-style episode!
Alex Kidd is an interesting character. Big, pointy ears, questionable hairstyle. And he is quite short. Although he is just a kid-d, right? He was once SEGA's mascot prior to the release of the original Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. His backstory and lore is a bit confusing at times, as was the norm back in the day. Alex is a prince, and in Miracle World he sets out to find his missing father and defeat Janken the Great. His brother and his brother's fiancée have also been kidnapped. Alex is also a master of the Shellcore technique, which allows him to focus his power on his fists, which is why he can use them to break rocks and destroy cars. Makes sense!
The original game stood out from the competition of the time for its colorful graphics and varied gameplay which includes obtaining different vehicles that help you overcome obstacles and avoid dangers. It's also known for its difficulty which comes not just from its one-hit death system but also from the randomness of its boss battles which are basically games of rock, paper, scissors against the CPU. This aspect of the game frustrated many people, including myself, when they first played it. As you'll hear some of our guests say, Alex Kidd is a product of the late 1980's style of platforming games with its slower, more deliberate gameplay. However, the colorful nature of its presentation made it stand out from Mario. And the fact that it came built into every Master System II, many SEGA fans' first console ever, helped Alex establish himself as a fan favorite even if he lost some of that popularity when Sonic came around five years later.
That popularity is proven by the fact that Alex was indeed SEGA's mascot for a period of time. Moreover Miracle World spawned a few other titles and spinoffs. There was Alex Kidd and the Lost Stars, which came out in the arcades in Japan in December 1986, with a home version being released in 1988, Alex Kidd BMX Trial - yes, that was a thing -, Alex Kidd: High Tech World - a re-skin and re-branding of a Japanese game with Alex Kidd characters and assets for a Western audience, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, which continues Alex's search for his father on the Mega Drive/Genesis and Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, which is a fan favorite spinoff that puts Alex in, well, Shinobi world and gives him a sword, extra moves and ninja magic. Not only is this an amazing game in its own right, but it appeals to fan of both franchises and parodies, in a way, some elements of the world of Shinobi. It also has great music!
With Sonic the Hedgehog becoming a video game icon in its own right, Alex Kidd's popularity dwindled down unfortunately, although he is still big among older SEGA fans and in some places like Brazil. As Renato Almeida put it on Twitter the other day, Brazil should have a national holiday to celebrate Alex Kidd.
That said, Alex made an appearance in Japanese-exclusive Dreamcast RPG SEGAGAGA. He is seen working as video game store clerk and tells the sad and true tale of how he became all but forgotten after Sonic came along. *sadface*
Much later he would also make appearances as a playable character in SEGA Superstars Tennis, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
So SEGA hasn't really completely forgotten about the character. Miracle World for example was released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 as part of SEGA's Vintage Collection, and more recently came out on the Switch as SEGA AGES Alex Kidd in Miracle World, further establishing it as the more recognizable game in the series and most people's favorite Alex Kidd game.
That is also proven true by the fact that fanmade sequels to Miracle World have been released for the Master System. You know, if SEGA doesn't give fans what they want, they usually take matters into their own hands and that's what happened with Ian Wall's Alex Kidd in Miracle World 2. If you want to learn more about this game, check out episode 90 of The SEGA Lounge which had Ian as a guest. Great fun! And even more recently, last year in fact, Yéti Bomar released the finished version of Alex Kidd 3: Curse in Miracle World.
Of course, all of these pale in comparison with the upcoming official game Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, which is being developed by Jankenteam and published by Merge Games. It promises to be a love letter to the original game, by a team of passionate fans, giving it a fresh coat of HD paint, re-imagining some of its concepts and offering some quality of life improvements.
Rest assured this was not intended to be a history lesson, just a brief summary of what happened to Alex Kidd in the last 35 years. If you're looking to get a more comprehensive look into the character and the series, feel free to look around the Interwebz and people with more SEGAducation than me will gladly share their knowledge.
With all that in mind, though, I think it's about time we hear from our amazing panel of guests and friends. They were all sent five questions involving their memories of Alex Kidd and their expectations for the future of the character and franchise. As we go along, I'll also share some of my own thoughts.
First up, I asked everyone what their earliest memories of Alex Kidd are and what exactly made them love the series.
For our second question, I asked our guests which of the Alex Kidd games is their favourite and why. I also asked them to consider the spinoff games and maybe surprisingly, some of them highlighted a specific spinoff game as their overall favorite.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is set to be released this year. Next month, in fact. So I wanted to know how excited our guests are for this game and basically what their expectations are. It's funny to see different points of view ranging from the ones who are avoiding information so they are able to go into it blindly, to the ones who are very optimistic about this upcoming release.
The final two questions I asked overlap a little, but I wanted to know how these prominent members of the SEGA community would feel about the hypothetical release of a brand-new Alex Kidd game. Not a remake or a remaster. A proper original title in the series.
To wrap things up, I asked our panel of SEGA fans what they thought would have to be done to bring the Alex Kidd series back in a meaningful way. Some say a move to 3D, others say stick to the original formula, and someone even questions if we need a new game in the series..
So there you have it, people! The thoughts and hopes of some amazing people in the SEGA community regarding the past, present and future of Alex Kidd. 35 years after the release of the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World, here we are, a month or so away from the release of its remake and looking into the future with hopes of seeing new titles in this classic platformer series. My thanks again to all of our amazing guests.
But before we close the door of the Lounge to Alex Kidd, I really want to share some of your own comments you guys posted in reply to a tweet I made earlier this week.
It's a fantastic series that basically just lived on the MS sans the 1 16-bit outing.— Aries_Man (@e3man01) May 4, 2021
Soooooo looking forward to the remake.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World was built into my Master System, a great little game even if the bosses were dirty cheats, got the remake on pre order— Carl Lavery (@realcarlitosway) May 3, 2021
Oh built in Alex Kidd on Master System 😍 I’d wager there’s a pretty significant amount of people in Europe who’s first game they ever played was Alex Kidd in Miracle World 😄— Alan Smith (@flanderosa) May 4, 2021
Oh and I go rock 🪨 pic.twitter.com/gp6CKcZNQZ
Be sure to follow @thesegalounge on Twitter as you never know when your tweets could be featured on future episodes. A big thank you to the people who replied with their memories!
And that's it for this week's Alex Kidd 35th anniversary special episode. I'll be back next week with a regular episode of the show, but stay tuned as we have more one-off specials coming soon and you will definitely not want to miss them. Thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful week. Stay safe, and I'll see you all next time.
This week's episode is "sponsored" by Miracle World's Bulldozer Bikes.
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Renato grew up a SEGA kid in Brazil and pretended to be SEGA's CEO at a young age. His love for the company only grew stronger with time and he ended up working with the blue brand in a PR and communications capacity. Eventually, Renato founded Masamune, a PR, marketing and communications agency. To this day, he maintains a healthy relationship with SEGA helping the company reach the Brazilian market with their games.
Radio presenter, podcaster and part of the Cultaholic team. Creator and host of "A History of Sonic the Hedgehog".
Shenmue Dojo co-owner, learner podcaster/interviewer, retro collector & part of the wider Shenmue Community.