Alex Kidd in Shinobi World Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1990 Also On: None

In the early 1990’s, Sega, for some unknown reason, still made an attempt at salvaging the dying Master System, even creating a new model which saw little distribution in the states. During this same time, Sega developed several games that existed in fairly small numbers. Alex Kidd in Shinobi World was one of these games, if not the first of said games. It was the final sequel in the nearly worthless Alex Kidd series for the SMS but though not as splendid as the likes of Alex Kidd in Miracle World, it is generally a good game and certainly managed to save the series from utter ruin. It came only one year after the horrifying title Alex Kidd: High-Tech World and, in my opinion, couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s a slightly failed effort for one major reason, but easily the second best game of the series.

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The graphics are very well done in this title, definitely displaying the capabilities of the Master System, considering the time when it was released. Most of Sega’s later titles were pretty devoid of programming skill, so it’s good to see a game like this for the SMS. The colors are vibrant overall and really capture the “cartoony” feel of Alex Kidd and his world.

The music is generally catchy, but there is a small problem with it. Now then, this is difficult, because the music and sound is great overall, well used. The only problem is something I will speak of in a bit, mainly involving the creativity factor, but it thus affects everything else. I therefore decided to place marks in the sound category here fairly high, since they do sound good. Everything does fit well, and I have to admit that, problem aside.

The gameplay in this Alex Kidd title is closer to Miracle World in many respects. You control Alex, who has to go through four different worlds to defeat the final “evil ninja” boss. There are three levels for each world, but the game is disappointing as far as length is concerned because it can be completed in nearly 15 minutes if you master it enough. It’s simply too short. Not only is it too short, it’s also too easy, you can fly right through this game without dying once if you take your time.

Attacking enemies is fun, but it does get somewhat tiresome since Alex only really has a few power-ups, and they’re not very interesting. You have your normal sword, which can be upgraded to a stronger slash, these spear things, a fireball tactic that you can use on poles, and a tornado spell. That’s it. Even the coolest power up, the spell, is only operated by picking up a special tile, and it’s temporary at that. You can’t use it several times or anything. Considering how much there was in Miracle World, it’s a shame they didn’t do more with this, but there’s an even more important problem with it that really affects every category, as I mentioned. It’s time to get to that.

This game is totally devoid of creativity. You may wonder why, but if you look at the title again I’m sure you have a bit of an idea. “Shinobi World” is just that, the game is based entirely off of the Master System game Shinobi. Characters have been made more “cartoony,” but you fight some of the same boss characters and encounter nearly the same environments that you find in Shinobi. The game has simply been hacked as far as creativity is concerned. The idea is interesting, giving Alex another type of “world” to run through, but in the end it’s just Shinboi with Alex Kidd as the main character, and, even further, it’s three times shorter and not as difficult.

It would have been better had they taken “Miracle World” and applied Shinobi themes to it, but just the opposite occurred. Though it looks nice and plays well, the score in this section goes straight to the floor because you can’t really consider a game creative if it borrows almost completely from a totally different title. At least the controls are responsive and easy to pick up.

Still, aside from it’s major fault of simply reusing ideas from a different game, it is a lot of fun and I would certainly come back to this title in the future. It’s short enough that you can run through it in a relatively small amount of time, so you don’t have to worry about putting a day into it, plus there are numerous secrets to discover. Though they are just extra lives, energy hearts, and so forth, it’s still fun to find them all because they tend to be hidden well.

Alex Kidd in Shinobi World is certainly a step way above the second and third titles in the series, but it does disappoint in some ways, the most important of which is the idea it was created around. It’s easily the second best game of the four, but it’s second for a reason, it just can’t compete with Miracle World in terms of depth and playability, but most certainly in terms of creativity, and that’s where this game really fails.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 0
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6
Written by Stan Review Guide

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