Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developer:
    • Sega
  • Publisher:
    • Sega
  • Released:
    ARC
    • 1986
    SMS
    • JP 03/10/1988
    • US UK 1988
Score: 60%

This review was published on 09/25/2017.

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Sega. It was originally released as a coin operated arcade game in 1986, but got ported to the Sega Master System in 1988. The Alex Kidd series was born on the Master System in 1986 with the release of Alex Kidd in Miracle World, which was Sega's failed attempt at competing with Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. While The Lost Stars and Miracle World are both side-scrolling platformers starring Alex Kidd, the two games are fairly different from a mechanical standpoint. Miracle World had a plethora of features to separate it from other platformers of the era, but The Lost Stars is a mostly straightforward affair that is even more similar to the first Super Mario Bros. than the original game. This makes sense, given its original arcade setting. Sadly, The Lost Stars is not as good as Miracle World, which wasn't terribly remarkable in the first place.

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Our hero is Alex Kidd, a boy with big ears and the longest sideburns you ever did see. He's the crown prince of Aries, a magical world of miracles. In his last adventure, Alex learned of his royal bloodline as he saved Aries from the tyrannical rule of the evil Janken the Great. With his father back in place as the rightful king of Aries, Alex left to explore the mysteries of his world. That expedition came to an early end when he discovered that the twelve stars of the Aries constellation had been stolen from the sky! Alex climbed to the top of Mount Eternal in search of answers. There, he found the ancient wizard, Daleda, who was reading an old magical scroll. Daleda told him that, over five thousand years ago, a despicable creature called Ziggarat had stolen the same stars from Aries' sky. Back then, Alex's ancestor, a noble prince by the name of Halifax Kidd, defeated Ziggarat and returned the stars to the sky. Now Alex must follow in his ancestor's footsteps and stop Ziggarat once again.

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In the original arcade version of the game, two people are able to play together simultaneously for a cooperative adventure. The first player controls the titular Alex Kidd, and the second one controls a young girl named Stella. Both characters play identically, however. By default, you can run and jump, and that's about it. You can't even duck! Unlike in Miracle World, you don't punch enemies and rocks into smithereens. Instead, you spend the majority of the game avoiding confrontation altogether, as you're completely unable to harm enemies without power-ups. To compensate for this, the controls are a bit more precise, allowing you to dodge enemies and hazards with greater ease. While the extra precision is a good thing, not having a basic attack really stinks. There are many instances where it feels like death is nearly unavoidable if you don't fight back. It also oversimplifies the game, making it less interesting than Miracle World.

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In keeping with the star theme, power-ups will occasionally come down from the sky in the form of shooting stars. The benefits they bestow upon you include extending your time limit, increasing your speed, making you jump higher, and giving you a basic projectile attack. That projectile attack granting power-up is the only way you'll be able to defend yourself against your foes, so it's easily the best of the lot. It comes in two varieties, the better of which is capable of piercing through multiple enemies. Unfortunately, all beneficial effects obtained from power-ups are temporary luxuries, usually vanishing after a very short period of time. Another aspect in which this game differs from Miracle World is that there are no money bags or shops to spend them at. The buyable vehicles from Miracle World also don't make a return. Considering those were some of Miracle World's most standout features, that's a serious bummer.

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Though it may be lacking originality elsewhere, the enemies and environments are quite imaginative. The first stage is set in a giant toy world, featuring dogs that bark out the alphabetical letters to spell out "bow wow," which hurt you on contact. The second stage takes place in a conveyer belt laden factory that contains a cameo of the spaceship from Sega's very own Fantasy Zone. Then there's a haunted forest with naked men that poop skulls out their butts. Another stage has you jump around inside a giant creature. These stages all had fairly nice visuals for the time, and the game even had some voice samples, like how it says "the customer is king" whenever you insert a coin at the title screen, or Alex's bloodcurdling scream when he dies. There aren't many stages, though, and they're all a little too simple. The game tries to remedy this by pulling a Ghosts 'n Goblins on you, forcing you to beat it twice in a row to get the true ending. Things are harder the second time around, but still, this comes off as a lazy attempt to lengthen an otherwise short game.

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While the arcade and Master System versions of The Lost Stars are mostly the same game, there are some differences between them. The arcade version of the game runs on the Sega System 16 board, which is why it boasts more detailed graphics and higher quality sound effects than the Master System port. However, the Master System port has a surprisingly nicer looking color palette, and most of the voices are still intact, albeit in a downgraded form. There are some mechanical differences, too. For instance, you die in one hit and have limited lives in the arcade version, but the Master System port replaces the lives with a timer that depletes quicker every time you die. Also, the Master System version is strictly single player. There are other minor differences, but those are the major ones.

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Worse than Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is majorly mediocre. With no shops, items, inventories, vehicles, or castle mazes, The Lost Stars results in a rather bland experience. The environments and enemies are creative, but the stage design and play mechanics are too basic to grab anyone's attention. The Lost Stars is a lost cause.

Word Count: 1,056

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