A platformer designed by Kotaro Hayashida which was both developed and published by Sega in 1986 for the Sega Master System. The game follows the story of the protagonist Alex Kidd in his search for his long lost brother Prince Egle who was captured by the antagonist of the game, the evil Janken the Great. Players will find themselves traversing various platform jumping sequences in this adventure game as they battle their way through 16 stages with various monsters and three bosses before confronting the evil Janken.
The game had a surprisingly deep plot attached to it considering the era and the nature of the genre, although the majority of the plot was restricted to the instruction manual. Prior to the games beginning Alex studied mysteries of Shellcore on Mount Eternal. Shellcore is a technique allowing a person to alter the size of their fists at will in order to shatter rocks with their bare hands. On his way back home from Mount Eternal he is told his homeland "Radaxian" is in danger and that he may be the key to saving it. The ruler of the planet Janbarik, Janken the Great, has kidnapped Prince Egle and Princess Lora in an attempt to seize power. With many of the citizens turned into stone (seemingly what happens when you lose in Janken) Alex sets off to save the Prince and defeat Janken.
A key aspect to the gameplay is the focus on "Janken," which is the Japanese equivalent of Rock, Paper, Scissors. During the game players must win two out of three matches against the bosses within the game by taking part in Janken matches. A different take on more traditional boss fights where usually the player has some control over how the outcome would be due to their level of skill however with Janken matches there is a 50/50 chance of success or failure. However there is a number of ways to predict the decision of an enemy boss. One of them requires the player to have picked up the telepathy ball which allows the player to see which decision a boss is going to make. It should be noted however that the telepathy ball was largely useless as the computer would often "change it's mind" at the last second or scroll through all choices without stopping. The other is that each match with a boss would be identical and their choices would always be the same. Although losing a match would make the choices for future bosses unpredictable.
Aside from Janken gameplay consisted of a variety of stages. Most predominant were traditional platform levels with Alex making it to the end collecting power-ups, money and defeating enemies along the way. The these levels were well varied for the era and were always the left to right levels seen in Super Mario Bros with the opening level seeing Alex descend the screen into an impromptu "water level" which is integrated into the first level. The game also featured two special levels where Alex would fly a pedal powered helicopter, avoiding obstacles and shooting enemies. Alex also used a motorbike which he could purchase from stores occasionally located in levels. The bike moved by itself at full speed with the player responsible for jumping. Levels ended with the aforementioned Janken stages.
Initially upon release in 1986 Alex Kidd was released on cartridge but then from around 1990 onwards the game was built into the hardware for different versions of the Sega Master System in various regions of the world. The most notable difference between the "built in" and cartridge version is the food Alex eats on the map screen. In the cartridge version of the game Alex is seen to be eating onigiri in the "built in" version he is seen eating a hamburger. This difference could have been Sega's way of making Western Audiences relate to Alex better if he is seen eating an iconic food of Western culture. The 2012 Xbox Live Arcade/Playstation Network bundle runs the cartridge version by default, but any region or variation can be selected through the options menu.
As part of the SEGA AGES Online initiative, the game will hit Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Network on May 23rd in Japan. For the PlayStation 3, the title is released for ¥600. For the Xbox 360, the title is released in a bundle with The Super Shinobi and Super Hang-On for 800 MS Points.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World was released as a direct competitor to the juggernaut that was Super Mario Bros and to try and bring the Master System's sales up to the level of the NES. Sega needed the mascot and Alex was to be it. Indeed the game was well received at the time by the press and by no means unpopular however the strength of Mario and the NES, particularly in USA, could not be reversed and the Master System continued to sell poorly in comparison. Alex Kidd in Miracle World did spawn five sequels even branching into the 16-bit era but by then the brand's strength was minimal in comparison to Mario and Sega dropped the series. One year later the first Sonic the Hedgehog game launched with that character being more directly referenced as a Sega mascot than Alex Kidd ever was.