Genre: Platformer Developer: Sega Ent. Publisher: Sega Ent. Players: 1 Released: 1990
Good ‘ol Alex Kidd! Sega’s early pre-Sonic The Hedgehog mascot had an interesting run on the Sega Master System. He saw himself in five different games across the console’s lifespan including a couple platformers, a strange adventure game, a racing game and a Shinobi spoof, which we’ll be taking a look at in this review.
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World is a tongue-in-cheek version of the original Shinobi game. Early working titles for the game were called Shinobi Kid before they attached Alex Kidd to it. The game is a very late release for the console in 1990, and it’s well known in collectors’ circles for being one of the few games to be released only with a blue labeled cartridge.
AKSW is broken up into four stages with two levels and a boss fight for each one. This game is one of the most colorful and bright games in the entire library, which compliments the light-hearted mood the game sets. The game is your standard platform fair, but Alex Kidd has a nice repertoire of moves and three different weapons. His best move is being able to grab on to poles and spin and turn into a fireball while flying vertically or horizontally, killing enemies and breaking blocks. This move is used to find extra lives and many of the game’s secret areas. Each of boss fights are typical fare for the time but fun and creative and once again are spoofs of Shinobi bosses. None of the boss fights are very tough, and even the final boss fight only took me a handful of tries to finish him off and rescue Alex’ girlfriend (I know, another rescue the damsel in distress story).
A new player may have to spend a few minutes getting used to the slightly slippery feel of the controls, but the game as a whole is pretty easy. It’s one a casual fan of the genre can pick up and play easily. I can play through the game now in about fifteen or twenty minutes, but I don’t mind coming back to it from time to time just for the simple gameplay.
As I stated earlier, the graphics are colorful and compliment the game well, but they are on the simple side and never wowed me. The bosses are also a little too simple-looking and just needed some more detail, as did the whole game. This game falls far short visually when compared to other great games of the time like Sonic The Hedgehog and Castle of Illusion. The music is pretty catchy, and a lot of it consists of remixes of Shinobi themes. It sounds pretty good, and I like that and could only imagine what this would sound like with added FM synth. The sound effects are surprisingly good, diverse, and full-sounding even for system with limited audio, which is another plus.
Overall, Alex Kidd in Shinobi World is a solid game and one of the better games in the Sega Master System library, but it’s just not “blow you away” good. It’s just a bit too easy and is over too quickly, but for me it was a fun diversion and a good addition to my library, albeit an expensive one. I’d recommend this game for platform game fans, but you may want to hesitate unless you’re a collector due to the high price tags this now commands. That being said, if you can find it for a good price then grab it, as it should offer you a good few hours of good quality gameplay.