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Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars Review

Developer: Tonka Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1988 Also On: None

It was bound to happen that, with a character to represent their system, Sega would decide to release a sequel to one of the greatest Master System games ever. This came shortly after Alex Kidd in Miracle World, though in actuality it came out before it in the arcade, and was a step above as far as graphics are concerned, but the gameplay really lags. It’s unfortunate, because if they reworked this a tad it could have been a nice sequel. Perhaps they should have kept it in order though.

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The graphics in Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars are fabulous, very well done and well above Miracle World. Progress had definitely been made in the two years since Miracle World. Colors are plentiful, the backgrounds are nicely detailed and fitting, enemies come in many different varieties, and the animation of all the characters is incredibly smooth. It is an excellent display of what the SMS could do.

The music in Lost Stars is very well done, considering the Master System’s poor sound chip. They fit the moods and create good atmosphere. Sound effects abound, surprisingly, and I only had problems with one of them. Alex makes this annoying “ahhhh” sound whenever he gets hit that at first sounds just fine, but after hearing it a million times it will start to get to you. Perhaps they should have reserved this outcry for only when you die. That would have worked better. The game even has some nicely done digitized voices that I was impressed with. Another set of high marks for this game.

So you throw the above together and a great game comes out of the mixture, right? Wrong. Lost Stars is a perfect example of a game that presents well but plays horribly. At first glance, everything seems fine. The controls are nice and responsive with no problems, you have power-ups to collect, and so forth. However, it soon proves otherwise.

First off, your power-ups have been stepped down significantly from those found in Miracle World. It’s not like you should expect the same thing, but only getting three power-ups really doesn’t cut it. You can get one that increases your life, another that makes you jump higher, and one more that lets you fire a limited amount of “magical cloud” shots. These, in fact, are hardly ever used as you can usually just jump over everything in your way. In the first game you had motorcycles, magic shots, helicopters, tons of interesting things. Here, you have nothing, making the game seem less impressive compared to its predecessor.

Secondly, this game has almost no difficulty whatsoever. You can essentially run straight through it without so much as blinking. It’s just too easy. Couple this with the fact that there are no bosses to speak of, and you have a rather tame game that takes no time at all to defeat, and which has an ending that hardly makes it worth the effort.

Third, this game gets old fast. There’s a good reason for this. You see, the first seven levels are all unique, plenty of stuff going on other than the lack of gameplay mentioned above. And then, to further throw this game into the grave, the programmers decided to have you go through the same levels again. They’re altered slightly and a bit more difficult, but it’s nothing worth mention. The game should have either ended at level seven or they should have taken the time to do more with it. Come on, it’s two-megs. If there were at least some bosses it would have turned out better, but sorry, none of that either. I guess they can’t have you enjoying this game since it was meant to be purchased on the character and the graphics alone.

As far as creativity goes, Lost Stars dries up most of its creative well in the graphics and sound departments. The gameplay is hardly creative at all, even the “energy bar for lives” idea was already taken on by Master Higgins in Hudson’s Adventure Island. What this game needed was more power-ups and at least a boss or two. The only two characters that somewhat count as bosses aren’t even attacked, you just jump over them and exit the level. In addition, the levels simply repeat so what may have stood as creative to begin with is brought down by repetition. The ending is hardly worth the pain of going through it again, especially in one sitting.

Thus, as one may assume, this game has pretty much no replay value whatsoever. The levels are generally short, and repeating them really won’t have you picking this up again if you sit through beating it. I finished it the other night and have no inclination to come back to it. I really doubt you will either.

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is a sorry disappointment to Alex Kidd fans. You’d have to be really diehard to actually enjoy this game. It certainly does do well with graphics and sound, but everything else is just not there at all. It’s a definite example of how a game can look wonderful, but turn out so horribly. At least what came after this was more than you’ll find here.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 2
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 3
Final: 5.8
Written by Stan Review Guide