Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Company

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Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Company
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Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Company
Platforming, Racing
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
May 23rd, 2012

With the success that retro titles have been finding on store shelves and marketplaces of modern consoles and handhelds, it’s no wonder that Sega has been a leader in reviving their early offerings. The company has issued many compilations of games from the hayday of their commercial console successes, and for the end of May, 2012, the Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace will be hit with four new collections, two hitting each week. The first of these is the Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Company, which features Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Super Hang-On, and Revenge of Shinobi. But, even though these are three staples to Sega’s early success, have these titles held up over the years?

Each game is a simple port of their respectable console version. Alex Kidd in Miracle World appeared on the Sega Master System, Super Hang-On is the arcade version, and Revenge of Shinobi is the one from the Genesis days. Not much has changed for these really, but each has it’s own unique soundtrack from their original days, with Super Hang-On sticking out the most thanks to the selection screen for each of the four songs you can pick from. Revenge of Shinobi has a decent gloomy electronic score that often fits the rough and dark terrain you have to play through, and Alex Kidd in Miracle World still holds some of the most irritating and obnoxious sound effects you’ll ever hear. Even with the additional options provided for each game in the modern pause screen, you’ll rush to turn everything down and just blast one of your favorite albums (mine having been Path of Fire by Aeon) to help pass the time. For one of Sega’s earliest and most successful titles, this one offers very little enjoyment, even for fans of the title back at it’s launch.

The visuals for these are pretty much all the same. The new in game selection screens look sleek, though remind me of the days when then modern McDonalds of the early 2000’s had the Nintendo 64 game stations for kids to play. Other than that, each game is greatly limited by what the operating console had to offer. That’s not to say these don’t have their own set of modern issues though. First of all, each of the three games wound up having lines at the bottom of the screen that would flicker or move in some way. This gave them the feeling of an analog television screen that was stretched out a little too far for the in-game graphics, which isn’t a good thing. You can, however, go into the modern pause screen and choose one of a few various sizes for your screen. The games utilize a format with a border around to simulate the original analog approach, an option to make the picture generally bigger, etc., but the most important is the option to define height and width yourself, allowing you a chance to cut it out of your field of vision. Thankfully, the square blocks of the game’s graphics from back in the day don’t seem to be greatly altered by this. On top of that, the digital look of these games (not remastered though) really makes the colors a lot sharper and vibrant, and helps to make the imagery fit the atmosphere far better than before.

While Super Hang-On doesn’t really tell much of a story at all other than having you race from start to finish, the point of Revenge of Shinobi is still to save Naoko, and Alex Kidd in Miracle World is to do some good while discovering you’re leadership role. None of this has been altered in any way, which is fine aside some of the annoying story progression bits to the latter of those titles which includes forced Rock, Paper, Scissors boss combat. While it’s clear that this was meant to be as innocent as possible, it also just becomes irritating due to a lack of unique characters, and repetition in their dialogue.

But what’s really important here is how the games hold up today. This version does include the option to save at any time, and even introduces different regional cabinets you can check out. Of course some of them also allow you to change the difficulty in game, which can make for an easy time from start to finish, or one that pushes you as far as the game’s capabilities allow. The button scheme tries to stick to the typical A, B, C format, but if it doesn’t work out for you, you can always change them around for better comfort. All buttons on the controller become an option, including the bumpers and triggers. This is definitely something you will want to do with Super Hang-On due to how far apart the boost is compared to the acceleration. But, nothing will really prepare you for how hard and sloppy the controls can be for Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Yes, this is on a console from the 1980’s, and one of Sega’s earliest attempts, but Alex is still deceptively hard to maintain control of, especially when you have to be intricate in how you time your jumps. Unfortunately Revenge of Shinobi hasn’t faired too well either, having stiff movement controls that conflict greatly with the fluid motions of the left analog stick. Of course, the directional pad can be used, but given how horrible it is on almost all Xbox 360 controllers, it can be even harder to use.

And if you happen to complete the main game, that’s not all there is to it. You can save replays of your progress, as well as partake in on-line leaderboard style trials with decent variety among each game. It makes a fun and entertaining way to challenge your friends to beat a time in Super Hang-On, or collect more coins in Alex Kidd in Miracle World, especially since none of these titles offer local or multiplayer in any way, and never initially did in the first place. But if that’s not your thing, there’s also a set of achievements to work on, with four designed around each game. Many of these are easy, though one or two will require plenty of saving, as well as a little research if you are not sure how to kill the octopi in Alex Kidd in Miracle World. In the end, these are all little extra bits and pieces for the gamer who wants to get the most out of their nostalgic experiences.

But, overall, the Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd and Company feels more like Sega throwing their so called “best” your way, but it’s titles that, chances are good, you’ve never cared too much about. There’s a good deal of diversity, but it’s rare that all three will appeal to every gamer. I was happy to see Revenge of Shinobi, a staple title from my youth, but was upset over the other two, though found a new respect for Super Hang-On. While Super Hang-On and Revenge of Shinobi make for great gameplay once more, and the save feature will allow you to actually finish these games if you weren’t able to before, Alex Kidd in Miracle World simply doesn’t hold up overall, and, much like the controls for Revenge of Shinobi, it just isn’t as good as you may recall. Whether you’re just a retro junkie, or you grew up with these three titles, there’s no real reason to pass up this collection other than you may not have really heard of the games that comprise it. Either way, at least two of these titles will genuinely keep you entertained, the trials will have you going up against your friends like back in the days of the traditional arcade, and the achievements are simple enough that you’ll feel determined to grab them regardless of whether you’re a perfectionist or not.

Overall Score: 7/10



Digital review copy of this release provided by Sega of America.