Alex Kidd: High-Tech World
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Master System
  • Developer:
    • Sega
  • Publisher:
    • Sega
  • Released:
    • JP 07/19/1987
    • US UK 1989
Score: 50%

This review was published on 09/28/2017.

Alex Kidd: High-Tech World is a video game developed by Sega for the Sega Master System. It was originally released in Japan on July 19, 1987, and North America and Europe in 1989. As indicated by the title, this game is part of the Alex Kidd series, which first began in 1986 with the release of Alex Kidd in Miracle World on the Master System. Despite starting out as a Mario styled side-scrolling platformer, almost every game in the Alex Kidd series is entirely different. High-Tech World is a perfect example of this, being that it has more in common with text driven adventure games than platformers. In fact, this wasn't even originally an Alex Kidd game. In Japan, the game is known as Anmitsu Hime, and it's based on an anime from the mid 1980s, which itself is based on a manga that goes all the way back to 1949. Anyway, Alex Kidd: High-Tech World sucks.

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Sega wasn't shy with promoting itself back in the day. Case in point; the premise for this game is that the titular Alex Kidd, Sega's mascot before the advent of Sonic the Hedgehog, wants to go to a video game arcade called High-Tech World to play all of the latest Sega games. High-Tech World actually existed outside of the game as a real life arcade chain that Sega owned at the time. Sadly, like Sega's home consoles, it no longer exists today. At any rate, while this and the Japanese version of the game are mostly the same, the story is slightly different. The plot of the Japanese version is about a tomboy princess in feudal Japan who wishes to leave her castle to visit a new bakery, as opposed to Alex Kidd adventuring to an arcade. Most of the text and sprites were changed for the releases outside of Japan, but the setting was mostly kept the same. This means that Alex Kidd still runs around in a setting very similar to feudal Japan, which doesn't make any sense.

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This game is a strange mixture of genres. The whole thing is presented in a side-scrolling perspective akin to any ordinary platformer, but it doesn't play anything like an ordinary platformer. Essentially, the game is broken up into four major sections; half are dialogue centric, and half contain action. The talking sections have absolutely no enemies or action in them, and instead limit Alex to walking around his environment and speaking with non-playable characters in order to figure out what to do next. The objective of these dialogue heavy sections is to find one or more items, some of which require puzzles to be solved. Similar to adventure games, you may need to obtain an item from one place and bring it elsewhere to unlock the way forward. To this end, a map of the current area and the items currently possessed in your inventory can be brought up at any time via the pause menu. You'll need it.

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The very first portion of the game is one of these dialogue heavy sections, and it takes place in a massive Japanese castle. Alex's objective here is to find all the missing pieces of a map that will lead him to the High-Tech World arcade. Sometimes this is as simple as talking to a specific NPC or inspecting a particular object, but it can also be stupidly convoluted. For example, one map piece is obtained by successfully passing a test given by Alex's tutor, who asks him questions about various subjects, such as geography, math, science, and there's even a single question about Sega's classic arcade game, Space Harrier. Another map piece tasks you with correctly guessing the names of six maids. Then there's a piece that requires you to dial a specific telephone number to call a specific character, then waiting for him to appear a little while later. Other map pieces are acquired by entering specific rooms at specific times, making you pay attention to the game's clock. It's all so specific. Good luck trying to do any of this without a guide.

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Even though there are no enemies during the dialogue sections, there are still various dumb, unpredictable ways for Alex to fail his mission. For instance, if Alex puts on a suit of heavy samurai armor he finds in the castle, he'll be too immobilized to move and the game will end prematurely. Someone will give him a burned map piece at some point, and if Alex touches it without first using a "restorer" potion, it'll crumble into pieces and result in an instant Game Over. There's also a malfunctioning computer that electrocutes him if he tries using it, putting yet another early end to his quest. This is all extremely frustrating, because there's no way to see any of this coming on your first time through the game, and each of these failures force you to repeat the whole castle sequence all over again. There are passwords, but you don't get one until after you leave the castle. That's quite bad, because the castle stage is exceedingly long. To make matters worse, you have a limited amount of time to complete the entire game.

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After you complete the first talking section in the castle, you're thrown into an action segment in a forest that plays a little closer to an actual side-scrolling platformer. Unlike the talking segments, you can actually jump and attack during the action bits, and you're armed with an unlimited supply of shurikens. The goal of the action stages is simply to reach the end alive, but you'll be attacked by countless enemies on the way there, usually ninjas. Successfully pulling this off is incredibly difficult, because you die in one hit and the controls are abysmal. There are also various gold coins scattered throughout this ninja laden forest that are used in the next stage, which is a dialogue driven town area. The more coins you gathered, the easier the town stage will be. If you don't get enough money, you may have to do something ridiculous like pray at a shrine 100 times in a row to get past the town. I'm not kidding. After the town, you'll have to do one more irritating action sequence before the game is done.

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High-Tech World is a high-tech failure. This game is a jumbled mess of bad ideas. The talking bits are boring, unfair, and obtuse, and forcing you to complete the whole game in a strict time limit just adds insult to injury. The action sections aren't much better, coming off as clumsily cobbled together garbage. This is the worst game in the Alex Kidd series, or it would be if it were actually an Alex Kidd game. Sega should have never brought Alex Kidd: High-Tech World outside of Japan.

Word Count: 1,144

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