Before Sonic was even dreamt up by Naoto Ōshima and Yuji Naka, Alex Kidd effectively stood up as Sega's video game mascot. Debuting on the ill-fated Master System, the game that Alex Kidd starred in was designed much like Super Mario Bros. in an attempt to bring more users to the Master System. Overall, Alex was designed to fulfill the role of platformer hero. He is young, with exaggerated aesthetic features and a somewhat animal-inspired build.
Sporting large ears and the largest sideburns ever known to man, Alex entered the game market as the star of Alex Kidd in Miracle World, which eventually turned out to be a cult classic. The plot is simple: Alex must save his brother from the rather evil Janken. While more focused on puzzle-solving and strategic block-smashing than the Italian plumber's adventures, the main things setting it apart are its difficulty (a player is given three lives to get through the game, and extra lives are rare) and its boss battles. These battles consist of Scissors, Paper, Rock matches. Victory thus effectively depends on chance, though the enemy's decisions occur in an unchanging pattern. Another nice diversion is the inclusion of vehicles that Alex can use, including a motorcycle and helicopter, that spice up the gameplay somewhat.
After the original game, Alex Kidd went on to headline a series of sequels. Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars, both a Master System game and an arcade game, is a simplified version of the original. It is a faster game that emphasizes platform-hopping more than puzzle-solving. Alex Kidd: High-Tech World attempted to vary the action with ninja combat. Alex even showed up on the Sega Genesis with Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, which goes back to a style more like that of Miracle World but with a few additions. His last adventure was back on the Master System. Called Alex Kidd in Shinobi World, it effectively splices the Alex Kidd series and another of Sega's series, Shinobi.
The advent of Sonic the Hedgehog led Sega to drop Alex Kidd as its mascot post-1990. While having missed out on as wide an audience as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Mario had, Alex still holds a special place in many people's hearts and is remembered as a landmark video game character.
Selected game appearances
- Alex Kidd in Miracle World (1986)
- Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (1988)
- Alex Kidd: High-Tech World (1989)
- Alex Kidd in Shinobi World (1990)
- Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (1989)