Before Sonic was even dreamed up by Naoto Ohshima and Yuji Naka, Alex Kidd stood up as one of the initial Sega video game mascots. Debuting on the ill fated Master System, the style of game that Alex Kidd starred in was designed much like Super Mario Bros, in an attempt to bring more users to the Master System brand. Overall, Kidd was made to fulfill the platform role: exaggerated aesthetic features to stand out, young age, and a somewhat animal inspired build.
Donning large pointy ears and the largest sideburns ever known to man, Kidd entered the game market with Alex Kidd in Miracle World, which eventually turned out to be a cult classic. The plot was simple: save Kidd’s brother from the rather evil Janken. While more focused on puzzle solving and strategic block smashing than the Italian plumber, the main things setting it apart was the difficulty (three lives to get through the game, extra lives rare), and the boss battles. These consisted of rock, paper, scissor matches, effectively deciding your fate on chance (though the enemy’s decision was in a set pattern). Another nice diversion was the inclusion of vehicles that Kidd could use, consisting of a motorcycle and helicopter, spicing up the gameplay somewhat.
After the original, Alex Kidd went on to create a miniature franchise. The Lost Stars, for both Master System and arcade, was a simplified version of the original, creating a faster game that emphasized more platform jumping than puzzle solving. High Tech World attempted to vary the action by having levels involving ninja combat. Alex even showed up on the Genesis in The Enchanted Castle, going back to a style more like Miracle World, with a few additions. His last adventure was back on the Master System, Shinobi World, effectively splicing the Kidd franchise with another of Sega’s, Shinobi.
The advent of Sonic the Hedgehog ended up with Sega dropping Alex as their mascot post 1990. While having missed out on such a wide audience that the NES and Mario had, the Kidd still today holds a special place in people’s hearts and is remembered as a landmark video game character.