Virgin Mastertronic/£22.95/Sega

Boy, this guy is weird - just take a look at those ears. The crown prince of Radactian (Alex Kidd to you and me) pops up again in this latest of the Alex Kidd series. In this adventure our hero has a lot on his plate as his quest is to get to a new video arcade - the High Tech World.

It wouldn't seem such an ambitious task if the whole thing wasn't confused by someone even uglier than Alex. We're talking about Alex's friend, Paul (best not to ask any questions about that) who's found a map of the High Tech World, ripped it into eight pieces and scattered them across the castle.

You control Alex (and his ears) in his plight to track down the pieces. When you've found them - and this is no simple challenge with just one life - you step out of the castle and into a bunch of marauding Ninjas. Weird? You bet! They're all armed with lethal shirikens and you've got to get through the forest using your own shirikens as defence.

If you survive this you get back into the final adventure sequence set in a village. You win the game by tracking down a travel pass to the arcade and taking it to the checkpoint.

The graphics are cute and fun but don't compete with the other Alex Kidd games. Sound consists of a constantly-playing background tune with the occasional extra effects from such things as the record deck and telephone.

But it's the ease with which you can lose your one life that is the most annoying part of this game. If you fall down a ladder or even wear armour - you've had it.

All of the Alex Kidd games have tried to be as cutesy as possible and this one is no exception. Even the interaction with other characters reiterates this. After all, how many other games would have you trying to get to a video arcade? Where's the blood and guts?

Hi-Tech World lacks the addictive qualities of previous games, but it's still a great challenge. If you're an adventure addict you'll love the environment which mixes multiple choice selections with information about the scene, conversation and even a quiz. The arcade section makes a really welcome change but it seems oddly out of place in an adventure and it's hard to see how Ninjas have managed to make it into the plot. Still, nobody said that the world of Alex Kidd was ordinary.

Zero magazine

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