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MIRACULOUS RETURN: Alex Kidd Complete Album Review!

October 19, 2009 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook MIRACULOUS RETURN: Alex Kidd Complete Album Review!on Twitter

As a kid, I had a SEGA Master System, but I didn’t own any game cartridges of any kind for it. That was no problem, however! You see, back then, SEGA decided to release the console with a game built into the system. That’s right, if you turned the console on with no game in the cartridge slot, it would automatically boot up Alex Kidd in Miracle World, one of my favorite SEGA titles to this day.

In late August, Wave Master released the ALEX KIDD COMPLETE ALBUM exclusively at Comiket 76, and OSV was lucky enough to get a copy.

Get ready to step back in time and read about our thoughts on the album!

Alex Kidd today has been kind of forgotten with SEGA putting all their emphasis on their mascot, Sonic The Hedgehog. However, for me, I always felt more drawn to Alex Kidd, and missed him in my adult years. It’s hard to tell you how happy and excited I was when I heard the news about this album coming out! It feels almost surreal holding this in my hand. It’s a 2-disc set, containing all 6 Alex Kidd titles, with different versions and some surprises as well.

The set starts out with the most well known title, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, composed by Tokuhiko Uwabo, who is also known as Bo. He is responsible for other soundtracks such as Phantasy Star, Space Harrier II and Super Monaco GP to mention a few. The cheerful “Main Theme” still brings a smile to my face, and as a kid I always found the calm and soothing “Swimming” theme so relaxing. “Scopaco Cycle” is an unused track and would have been used for the motorcycle power-up most likely. “Castle” is quite melodic compared to other castle themes back then, like say Super Mario Bros, while “Janken” is a short jingle that was used for the Rock-Paper-Scissors fights. It has a slight Asian feel to it, and contains the rock-paper-scissors sound effects from the game, which is sure to bring back memories for fans.

The next soundtrack on the first disc is the arcade\Master System title The Lost Stars, composed by none other than hiro! hiro of course is well known for his fantastic work in games such as OutRun, but The Lost Stars is somewhat of a hidden treasure of his. The compositions are wonderful, and perfect for platformer games. Cheerful like nothing else, and full of character and life, it’s probably my favorite soundtrack of the whole set. “BGM 1” is insanely catchy. Both the PSG and FM versions are available here, but the FM version is the strongest in my opinion, with softer tones and a more wide sound library. I believe this title was actually the debut of the character, and therefore it doesn’t include the Alex Kidd song that every game after Miracle World referenced to in some way.

Next up is Alex Kidd BMX Trial. It’s not clear who composed this soundtrack, as the booklet just credits the game to SEGA and nothing else, and the title itself does not have any credits of any kind. This title was, to my knowledge, only released in Japan, and used a special paddle controller. The compositions are much more fast paced to go along with the racing gameplay, with fast drum loops and exciting leads. “BGM 3” is especially strong. I never actually heard this soundtrack before or played the game, but feel I missed out as it’s true to the trademark Alex Kidd catchy style and one of the more exciting soundtracks. Again, PSG and FM versions are both on the disc, and FM is again my favored choice. They really did some amazing stuff with the FM chip back in the day. The next 4 tracks are not actually from any Alex Kidd game, but Pit Pot, an obscure action puzzler for Master System. I’m not entirely sure why it’s included on this set, but regardless it is classic SEGA goodness, and the “Ending” track is wonderful, though short. It seems to resemble BMX Trial in some ways, so they might share composer, whoever it might be.

Disc 2 opens up with “THE COSTUMER IS KING” blaring over the speakers, a voice clip from the arcade version of Alex Kidd and The Lost Stars. It’s the same score as the Master System version with a more updated sound thanks to the arcade board, which I think used the YM2151 chip, which retro fans of SEGA and Konami love. I still prefer the Master System FM version however, as it feels more warm in lack of a better term.

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, the only Alex Kidd title on Mega Drive (or Genesis, depending on where you are from) is up next. Enchanted Castle is composed by Tarnya, who also composed SEGA’s E-SWAT title. It’s the most advanced out of the Alex Kidd soundtracks, with more tracks and styles than the others. My favorite tracks from this game have always been “Splashy Sea” and “Scorpion Desert.” “Splashy Sea” is a calm ocean track, almost like a lullaby. It can remind you a bit of the bonus stages in Sonic The Hedgehog.  It’s a wonderful xylophone style track. “Scorpion Desert” is an upbeat song with an adventurous lead and fast drums, and it goes into the more Egyptian style “Pyramid,” which is really cool, one of the best Alex Kidd songs for sure. It also has a more low key version of the Alex Kidd song, “Rookietown.” While the sounds are more diverse here, I prefer the Miracle World version by far, as it’s way more catchy.

Many people thinks Enchanted Castle was the last Alex Kidd game released because it was the only 16-bit outing, but there was actually 2 more games, Alex Kidd in High Tech World and Alex Kidd in Shinobi World on the Master System, released in 1989 and 1990. They are both present on this set. Alex Kidd in High Tech World is not really an Alex Kidd game though, as you see, in Japan, the game was released as Anmitsu Hime – From Amakara Castle, based on the anime and manga Anmitsu Hime. The game itself feels kind of out of place with its ancient Japanese architecture and enemies. The soundtrack however is quite good, with cheerful platformer style songs, with “Ending” being the highlight. I think the ending track was only on the Alex Kidd localization, but I might be wrong.

The last Alex Kidd game is the Shinobi parody, Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. This game also was not originally an Alex Kidd title to begin with, but actually developed as Shinobi Kid, an SD version of Shinobi, much like SD Snatcher or Kid Dracula from Konami. This soundtrack was also present on the Legend of Joe Musashi: Shinobi Collection, and as mentioned in our review, they managed to work in the Shinobi material quite well. “Round 1” is FANTASTIC, and is the best out of all of them with its fast, Asian-style 8-bit rock. The soundtrack was done by XOR, who I can’t find any information on, but he did quite a great job with this soundtrack.

The whole set closes with the vocals of Takenobu Mitsuyoshi! I can’t think of a better way to end the CD, and it’s a fast rock version of “The Alex Kidd Song,” the main theme from Miracle World! The trademark positive energy is present in Mitsuyoshi’s vocals, and the arrangement is full of charm and fun. It might sound surprising that they would go with a hard rock arrangement of such a cheerful song, but it fits perfectly fine, and ends the set on a high note. The lyrics to this song I believe come from the Japanese manual, which featured a sing-a-long. Again I might be wrong about that.

In conclusion, this set is everything I wanted it to be. All the soundtracks are here, the arrangement from Mitsuyoshi is great as you can always expect from him and I’m glad they included every version of each soundtrack to make it truly complete. The artwork on the CD is super cute, with chibi style Alex Kidd eating an onigiri, and the booklet includes notes on each game in Japanese. It makes me sad that Alex Kidd is now nearly forgotten, but lately he has been seen in some SEGA crossover games like the recently announced Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing where Alex will be a playable character with his bike! Let’s hope it leads to a WiiWare remake or something. But for now, this album is the best gift Alex Kidd fans could ever want!

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