Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 25th, 2019. The last couple of days have been pretty quiet as far as news goes, but we’ve got one heck of a week ahead of us. Warhammer Quest and Trials Rising hit tomorrow, Deltarune and ToeJam & Earl are coming later this week, and that’s just scratching the surface of the avalanche of new games. So let’s enjoy a sip of our chosen beverages and have a bit of a breather today. Here we go!
SEGA AGES Alex Kidd in Miracle World
The Switch SEGA AGES releases aren’t coming as quickly or as smoothly as most had hoped when the project was originally announced, but at the very least we can all agree that once they arrive, they’re quite good. Not only do they do a good job of bringing back the classics, they also add some interesting options for you to play them in new ways. The result is that, at least in my opinion, anyone can enjoy a little trip into SEGA’s history with each new release.
While Western players wait for the highly original cult favorite Gain Ground to arrive, Japan’s eShop saw the release last week of a slightly more famous chapter of the company’s history: Alex Kidd in Miracle World. An early effort at creating a mascot platformer to counter Nintendo’s industry-changing Super Mario Bros., Alex Kidd was a reasonably big success in the relatively small pond that was the Master System market. The titular Alex Kidd character would go on to appear in a few other games before relinquishing his mascot crown to a certain blue hedgehog, but until that point, he was the best thing SEGA had for the job.
A lot of the love for the character stems directly from Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Most of the other games bearing Alex Kidd’s name tended to be completely unrelated affairs that had Alex shoehorned in at the last minute. The quality of such titles certainly varied. But Miracle World was pretty good, and SEGA did its best to put the game in the hands of as many Master System owners as possible. It’s certainly a game worth celebrating in a project like SEGA AGES, and I’m glad developer M2 selected it as a candidate.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a side-scrolling platformer during most of its 17 stages. In some ways it’s quite pedestrian. The bulk of the levels are fairly short and only scroll in one direction, and you need to guide Alex to the goal while safely navigating tricky platforms and dangerous enemies. Alex is a floatier fellow than his Nintendo rival, but he packs a powerful punch that can take out enemies and blocks alike. Despite that, he prefers to battle bosses by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. He’s also not above throwing around money to make his life easier. Some levels feature a shop that allows you to buy a vehicle that makes getting to the end a breeze.
Well, okay, you’re probably already noticing that this isn’t exactly a typical platformer. There are bits of it that are very familiar, but they’re set amongst weirder elements like non-linear castles, puzzle-solving, and optional shoot-em-up style segments. That variety constantly threatens to undermine Miracle World‘s focus, but it just barely holds itself together for the duration of the game. Some of it is aggravating, like the Rock, Paper, Scissor boss battles seeming random at first, or the ridiculous layout of some spikes in a late swimming section. Some of it is fun enough that they could have made a full game out of it, like the sections where you’re controlling the Puchi-Copter. Some of it is just bewildering. But all of it, and nothing less than that, is Alex Kidd.
As usual, you can play the game as you remember it here, but there’s a new AGES mode that has a few nice extras. Some new art is peppered in between levels, an FM version of the soundtrack is available, and you can now tap the shoulder button to rewind the game five seconds. Continuing the game is also a lot less punishing than in the original. Most of these options can be turned on or off individually, allowing you to tailor the experience according to your wishes. There are also some extra time attack challenges that have you trying to get through some of the trickier sections of the game as fast as possible. Like with most Switch SEGA AGES releases so far, this is clearly the best way to experience this classic no matter what you’re looking for.
While I’d played the first couple of levels before, this was my first time playing through Alex Kidd in Miracle World in its entirety. It’s a decent game, though I’m not sure how often I’ll go back to it. Like with most Master System games, it’s quite impressive in terms of presentation. Comparing it to Super Mario Bros. certainly makes for a favorable impression for the Master System in terms of hardware power. I like how creative the game is, even if I don’t always like the ways it chooses to exercise that creativity. The collision detection is a bit funky, and I straight-up don’t like having to play a game of chance against the bosses, particularly in the original mode where the cost of dying is so high.
On the whole, I think this is the weakest release in the SEGA AGES line-up so far, but that speaks more to the high quality of the other choices so far than any sort of deficiency on Alex Kidd‘s part. And the game is certainly of great enough historical significance that it’s wonderful to see it get the star treatment it deserves. Those who love the Kidd will find this a great way to relive their younger years, while others can see what things looked like on the other side of that very tall Nintendo-built fence. This one should be releasing in the West after Gain Ground, which was originally scheduled for February but appears to be slipping into early March.
Duck Hunting Challenge ($9.99)
It seems like duck hunting games are aimed a particular niche these days, but hey, I suspect most of have loved at least one game about the topic at some point in our lives. Probably the same game! This is not like that game, though. This one is taking things seriously. You travel the United States, using all of your duck hunting techniques and tricks to hunt the fowl creatures as you. Your only pal on this journey is your trusty dog who, unlike certain other dogs from certain other duck hunting games, will not point and laugh at you when you miss. Well, not externally, anyway. This seems alright for what it is and the price it’s at. Not my thing, but I know some people really dig this kind of game.
Some new releases and pre-order discounts went live over the weekend, along with a couple of other sales. None of these discounts are particularly unusual, but if you really feel like you have to buy something, Velocity 2X is a great game and Saboteur! is an interesting historical curio. That’s about it, at least at the time of writing.
New Games on Sale
Braveland Trilogy ($13.49 from $14.99 until 3/7)
Daggerhood ($3.99 from $4.99 until 3/11)
Jewel Fever 2 ($3.99 from $4.99 until 3/10)
Saboteur! ($0.96 from $8.00 until 2/28)
Velocity 2X ($9.99 from $19.99 until 3/9)
Neverout ($4.49 from $7.49 until 2/28)
Mecho Tales ($0.49 from $0.99 until 3/14)
Plague Road ($1.99 from $15.00 until 3/14)
Deployment ($5.99 from $9.99 until 3/2)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 26th
Pillar ($5.99 from $7.99 until 2/26)
Space Ribbon ($0.99 from $4.99 until 2/26)
Well, it’s a bit of a brief one today, but what can you do? When there’s no news, there’s no news. Now, I could take a little swim in the rumor pond, but I try to avoid that to maintain my good health. So instead, I’ll just encourage you to come back tomorrow, when we’ll have a rather large list of new releases to check out. As always, thanks for reading!