Simple, yet addictive, Super Mario Brothers probably gained the Nintendo console numerous sales. In Alex Kidd Sega now have a game in a similar - though graphically more varied - vein, introducing Alex Kidd - a character who may become the star of further games.

Alex, star throughout the galaxy of stage, screen and record, has became separated from his spacecraft, and is now lost countless miles from home. Many alien landscapes lie ahead of him, from forests and futuristic complexes to bright surrealistic scenes, all populated by deceptively friendly-looking creatures.

Alex begins at the extreme left of the first level, proceeding along the rightward scrolling landscape which must be completed within a time limit.

Dogs, walking cards, birds, clowns, cars and zombies are just a selection of the creatures harassing Alex through the game. They take two time units away on contact.

Special platform segments act like trampolines, giving Alex a long jump range, and others move around to enable him to cross otherwise impassable gaps. Other means of transport are available. A monorail line in Level One, for example, can be climbed along to bypass ground hazards, but progress made by such means is slow.

Icons float by during the game, giving various bonuses if collected. Extra points, additional time units and the ability to shoot can be gained, the latter being especially useful against the large enemies which guard the end of each level.

Don't be put off by cuteness taken to annoying extremes (Alex is a typical Japanese monkey-like creature), because a playable game is revealed. Diverse graphical variations and original features distinguish it from the Super Mario Bros coin-op. However, though accessed differently, the shooting ability is an obvious copy, but one which is often of limited use, enemies hiding away in parts of the scenery. This is quite typical of the game: the time limit too short or the levels too long.

Well-defined - if overly "nice" graphics are marred by major sprite glitches, but samples mixed with light music and effects provide a quality soundtrack. The difficulty is Alex Kidd's worst fault, but as this increases lastability it's no great stumbling block.


The Games Machine magazine

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