Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Part II

      Welcome to the second part of my review of the classic Sega Master System game Alex Kidd in Miracle World. When we last left our big-eared, big-handed hero, he was fighting some freaky-deaky blue miniboss guy who planned to slice Alex into deli meat with his ridiculously big sword. Alex stood his ground and handily won the battle thanks to Shellcore, his trademarked brand martial arts. But as you'll soon see, Alex Kidd still has quite a long way to go before he finally gets to square off against the mighty Janken, thus saving the beleaguered Radaxian Kingdom from his tyrannical grip. Let's watch...


      Alex may have defeated that weird bear type thing, but he's not out of the woods yet. Oh wait, yes he is. And now he's in the Suisui speedboat for another retardedly easy water level filled with free money. Sadly, this is the only level where you get to use the boat.


      After making his way across the water, Alex arrives in the Bingoo Lowlands. The lowlands are a barren, rocky place filled with poisoned water, living fireballs, and thunderclouds. But if you have an extra $200 lying around, and you should after that last level, you can buy a Peticopter from a shop at the beginning of the level. If you do, the only thing you have to worry about is those fucking thunderclouds. If you don't, the level is significantly harder. So I guess Miracle World is a lot like the real world; it's a lot easier for people who have lots of money.


      On the outskirts of the lowlands, you will find Janken's top henchman, Paper Head. For a quick and decisive victory, throw rock followed by scissors. With the third and final henchman defeated, the game should be winding down...


      Welcome to Radaxian Castle, the palatial home of Alex's royal family. That creepy old man told us earlier that Alex's brother is imprisoned here. If I know anything about classic video game story structure - and I think I do - this castle will also play host to the final showdown between Alex and the evil Janken. But first, Alex has to navigate the castle. Janken's followers have done some massive redecorating, turning the castle in an annoying maze filled with tricks, traps, a shitload of spikes. It's kind of like Wart's castle from Super Mario 2, except smaller. Also, this game came first.


      None of the puzzles in the castle are particularly difficult, but they will require at least a little bit of thinking on your part. For instance, take a look at the room pictured above. There are two letters, T and A, comprised entirely of breakable blocks. To make it to the ladder at the top of screen, you'll have to strategically break blocks so you can climb upwards. The programmers of Miracle World are exceptionally nice, so if you manage to mess up a puzzle, you can reset it by leaving the room and then reentering it.


      Eventually you'll find your brother Igul trapped in a cage. After you free him by hitting some vaguely gay pink blocks, he tells you that he is sorry, but the Janken is in another castle; the game's end boss has headed off to the Nibana Kingdom to steal the Moonlight Stone Medallion. Igul also tells you to find a letter he wrote warning of Janken's evil plan and deliver it to High Stone, the king of Nibana, before it's too late.


      Wander around the castle some more and you'll eventually find Igul's letter lying around in a room filled with spikes. It is possible to enter this room before you encounter your brother. If you do, the letter will not be present. Oh, and if you bought a Cane of Flight at any point during the game, this is the only acceptable time to use it. The cane's magic has a time limit, so grab the letter as quickly as you can and fly back to the ladder. You know, Igul probably could have just written another letter instead of making Alex look for the old one. Thanks a lot, dickhead. Anyway, now that Alex has the letter that his asshole brother was too goddam lazy to rewrite, it's time to leave castle. But first, there's another boss battle...


      What the fuck, Stone Head again? Didn't Alex already kill this motherfucker? Apparently not, because he's back. Throw paper, then paper again to beat him. Yes, this dumbass will throw rock two rounds in a row, which isn't exactly the best strategy when your fucking head is shaped like the hand gesture that represents rock. Maybe he was trying to use reverse psychology or something. It failed.


      It turns out that Stone Head is kind of a prick. Instead of gracefully accepting defeat like he did last time, he decides to attack you. And by attack you, I mean his head detaches and floats around, occasionally swooping down toward you. Hit him three times for the win. Then it's time to play amateur postman and deliver that stupid letter.


       Welcome to the City of Radaxian. Whereas the majority of the Radaxian Kingdom is inhabited by scorpions, angry fish and shopkeepers, Radaxian City is filled with personal residences. Unfortunately, the evil Janken has turned all the people to stone... except for the shopkeeper, of course. Too bad he's not selling anything good.


      On the edge of this city on the edge of forever, Alex encounters Scissors Head for a second time. Once you beat him by throwing the all too obvious combination of rock followed by rock, he'll attack you. Just like Rock Head, his head will fly off and attack you. On top of that, his body will fire blue ninja stars at you. Hit his head three times and victory will be yours.


      Now it's time for another Peticopter level. This level can be fairly annoying. You have to fly over poison water pits while dodging vines, monster birds, and red balls. If you hit anything, your vehicle will explode and you'll be completely fucked; have fun trying again. But if you succeed, you'll move one step closer to the ultimate showdown with Janken.


Another castle! This must be the end of the game. For real this time.


      Dammit, it's just Nibana Castle. Alex delivers his letter to King High Stone, but unfortunately it is too late; Janken has already beat the shit out of the mighty monarch and stolen the Moonlight Stone. To make up for losing such an important quest item, the king gives you a stone slab and starts babbling about how you need to go find a crown in a lake. Maybe he's just delirious from his concussion. Or maybe he's presented you with THE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING GAME. Nah, it's probably just crazy concussion talk.


Another level, another shop, another motorbike. Doesn't this game ever fucking end?


      At the end of this level, you'll fight Paper Head again. If you're clever, you might notice a pattern in the second set of Janken matches. So, since Alex won the second Stone Head battle by throwing double paper and the second Scissors Head battle by throwing double rock, what should he throw to beat Paper Head? If you said rock, then scissors, you're correct. Good for you! As per the other two bosses, Paper Head will attack you when defeated. But on the plus side, Paper Head is retardedly easy to beat. His head flies around in a circular pattern, and if you stand behind his headless body, you can punch it when it flies by without worrying about getting hit. After defeating Paper Head here, Alex is well on his way to finishing his quest. Now he just needs to defeat each of Janken's henchmen seven more times and before you know it, he'll be battling Janken himself on a pirate ship. Just kidding... or am I?


Oh boy, it's ANOTHER FUCKING CASTLE. Fortunately though, this really is Janken's castle. I promise.


      If you thought the Radaxian Castle was annoying, prepare to get really pissed off. Each room of Janken's castle is a complete chore to get through. You will have to complete jumping puzzles, swim through a spike-filled maze, dodge even more vines, and keep Alex from being crushed by an artificial waterfall. It will take patience, and perhaps some trial and error, but if you are able to guide Alex through the fortress, you will not go unrewarded...


      After you successfully traverse the tricks and traps of Janken's Castle, you will come to a room with a green-haired girl. She is presumably supposed to be beautiful and she's probably Alex's love interest as well. But when Alex moves closer and attempts to stick his tongue in her mouth, tragedy strikes...


      Fuck, that was another trick and/or trap! Alex finds himself face to face with Janken the Great, an evil mustachioed fiend who serves as the game's final boss and who is absolutely NOT a parody of Mario. Much like his henchmen, Janken is all about challenging people to high stakes Rock-Paper-Scissors matches. And much like his henchmen, he will open his matches with the same throws every time. Choose paper twice in a row and you'll win.


      Having literally been beaten at his own game, Janken begins hurling ninja stars at Alex. This would generally be considered a bad thing, except that Janken has a blind spot and it's DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HIM. So basically, all you have to do is stand right in front on Janken and punch him in the face when he gives you an opening. Before you know it, ULTIMATE VICTORY will be yours.


      With Gay Biker Mario defeated, the Moonlight Stone is mine for the taking. I'm gonna find that chick from before, hopefully I can trade it to her for a blowjob. There she is! And her mouth is wide open! I like where this is going... or maybe not. If I understand what this lady's telling me, apparently she's my mom and she enjoys talking about herself in the third person. So I guess that means no blowjob, at least not in the North American version of this game. But wait! According to the game's instruction manual, this chick is actually Princess Lora, and she's Alex's brother's fiancée. Maybe a blowjob's not out of the question, especially if I can find that stupid crown she's fucking whining about.


      In most video games, defeating the last boss would result in the game ending. Not so, in Alex Kidd. It turns out that killing Janken didn't break the petrification spell he used on the people of Radaxian. In order to save them, Alex needs to obtain his family's crown from the bottom of Cragg Lake. It is really weird that the game doesn't end with the Janken boss battle, especially since this final level is markedly easier than Janken's castle.


      At the bottom of Lake Cragg, Alex will find a secret cave with a sealed door. With the combined powers of the Sun Stone and the Moonlight Stone, the door will open to reveal... absolutely nothing. The room on the other side is completely empty, aside from the some weird markings on the floor. Where the fuck is that damn crown that our fearless hero was supposed to get?


      Remember that stone slab that the King of Nibana gave Alex? It's called the Hirotta Stone and it is the key to obtaining the crown. When you select it from your inventory, you will see a series of symbols that conveniently correspond to symbols on the floor in the mysterious room at the bottom of Lake Cragg. This is the hardest puzzle in the game, and it wasn't even *supposed* to be a puzzle. But unfortunately, the Hirotta stone was not designed for Western audiences. Whereas languages based on the Roman alphabet are read from left-to-right, then top-to-bottom, traditional Japanese is not. Traditional Japanese is read top-to-bottom, then right-to-left. So to obtain the crown, you must step on the pink glyphs in the following order: sun, water, moon, star, sun, moon, water, fish, star, fish. If at any point you touch an incorrect block, the Grim Reaper will emerge from it. Since you can't leave this room, a misstep effectively results in a guaranteed death. Successful completion of the sequence will make the crown appear. Once it does, all Alex has to do is jump over some spikes and grab it. With that final move, the game ends.


      In the game's epilogue we learn that almost everything worked out for the best: Alex's brother Igul became king of Radaxian, everyone who got turned to stone is okay, and Alex got to kick some ass and show off his super awesome martial arts skills. But Alex's father is still missing, a plot point which would be further explored in Miracle World's only direct sequel, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle.

      All in all, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a fun, inventive platformer with many interesting elements. But it never could have been the Mario-killer that Sega hoped it would be. For all its inventiveness, Miracle World lacked the overall focus and charm of Super Mario. Super Mario was simplistic and formulaic, but it certainly never seemed the part. By incorporating bright colors, infectious music, unusual characters, and action-oriented gameplay, Nintendo was able to create a game that wasn't just fun, it was completely fucking addictive. Miracle World failed to beat Super Mario in any of these categories - the colors are less exciting, the music is less catchy, the characters are less interesting, and the action is much slower. Sega would eventually solved all these problems by creating a new flagship franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. The problem with Miracle World is that seems to been designed largely with blind ambition. The game lacks a singularity of purpose; each level and gameplay gimmick feels like it was designed by a think tank that was trying to outdo Super Mario rather than a group of programmers who went into the project with a complete vision of the game they wanted to make. In particular, the fact that boss battles come at inconsistent intervals seems to point towards this. But even though it's not on the same level as Super Mario, Alex Kidd is a very fun game and a lost classic from Sega's early console days. If you like old school platformers, then I highly recommend this game. So what are you waiting for? Go track it down.


Posted by: Syd Lexia