It's a Miracle: Alex Kidd to return in 2021
"I would just remake Miracle World" ~ Stuart Gipp, mere weeks ago
A few weeks ago, Jeremy asked me what I'd like to see from a new Alex Kidd game, were it up to me to make one. I answered that I'd just remake Alex Kidd in Miracle World, but spruce it up a little bit.
So this is my fault, sorry.
Here's Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX, a remake of (checks) Alex Kidd in Miracle World, the first game I ever played on my very own console. As a consequence, I am presently unable to be reasonable about it. Unable, and unwilling. I don't like it. I think it looks generic, entirely too busy, and generally aesthetically overdesigned. But I would think that, wouldn't I? I'm so used to the simple charms of the original that any change whatsoever is going to make want to tear off my own legs and hurl them at a Megabus.
I was the same way about the Castle of Illusion remake, mind, and that turned out great. But nothing about this is working for me yet. Until I get my hands on it I can't be sure, but it looks... wrong. It looks overanimated, overdesigned. The colours on the power-up blocks in Alex Kidd used to pop but here they're muddy, shimmering nonentities. The swimming too; the clean, clear waterscape is now a dingy cave, almost certain full to the brim with fish piss. Okay, that's unfair, but nnngh. It's wrong. They've done it wrong.
The simplicity of Miracle World belies its unforgiving, esoteric nature; by over-egging the pudding like this it becomes just another indie platformer. While the "retro" edition is included as a bonus (despite already being available), I expect the trailer's promises of "new levels, new modes and alternative boss fights" to be a serious dumbing down of a Very Weird game.
But that's not going to be a bad thing for everyone - to use the cretinous parlance of the modern gamer, the rock-paper-scissors battles are objectively bad, so it's a no-brainer idea to revamp them. In doing so, though, it will rather cease to be Alex Kidd in Miracle World, a game held up not by the robust foundation of solid Japanese game design, but by the lost and mystical art of being weird as hell. To "improve" Miracle World is to erase what makes it memorable. What makes it Miracle World.
As usual, I'd rather play a bizarre, creaky load of half-arsed nonsense than some pitch-perfect polished product. It's one of my most frequent frustrations with remakes and re-imaginings, as well as retrogaming discourse in general; the obsession with "quality of life" features. Yes, Alex Kidd would be less frustrating if the Rosetta Stone had been translated in a way that made sense. Yes, it would be friendlier if Egle's letter wasn't permanently missable. Yes, indeed, it would be more fair if the first boss wasn't based on either luck or rote memorisation. But if all that were the case, nobody would remember the game and there would be no remake.
Do not take these inane, nostalgic ramblings as any kind of meaningful criticism. My retrogaming neuroses do not mean anything in the face of the obvious talent and passion of the Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX developers. For the vast majority of people, this will be a more accessible and simply better take on a flawed classic. Personally, as with Castle of Illusion and more recently Streets of Rage 4, I will side-eye this one until the day it releases. Then I'll probably go, hey, this is neat! This is really good! I'm glad I was wrong!