The Alex Kidd Series Ranked

Tristan Ettleman
6 min readNov 2, 2020


When I was ruminating on Alex Kidd, the character and his source video game series, I remembered somewhat janky, goofy, and decently fun games from Sega’s yesteryear. Alex Kidd, a monkey-esque boy with a huge fist slightly modeled after Sun Wukong (or the Monkey King, of JOURNEY TO THE WEST fame), was essentially Sega’s mascot in the Master System years. Their 8-bit console didn’t yield a ton of great games, and it wasn’t until Sega’s 16-bit upgrade, the Genesis, that the developer/publisher/hardware manufacturer hit its stride in challenging Nintendo’s dominance. That was partially due to Sonic the Hedgehog, and by that time, Alex Kidd was phased out. He’s made cameos ever since his last game was released in 1990, but generally, he’s faded into “fun fact” territory. Because the simple truth is that the majority of the five games ranked here aren’t super good, in spite of my more favorable recollection. Alex Kidd actually appeared in six games of his own, but omitted from this list is ALEX KIDD BMX TRIAL (1987), a Japan-only release that utilized a specialized controller. I’ve ranked Alex Kidd’s five other games here, released from 1986 to 1990, partially because of my discovery that Sega is publishing a fan-made remake of the first game in the series, ALEX KIDD IN MIRACLE WORLD. This DX installment, developed by Merge Games and Jankenteam, may or may not be included this list when it’s released in 2021, 31 years since the last Alex Kidd release. It just depends on if it’s a full enough remake to constitute a totally different experience from the original, beyond a graphical one!

All games developed and published by Sega.


ALEX KIDD: HIGH-TECH WORLD is kind of the SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 (1988)/DOKI DOKI PANIC (1987) of the Alex Kidd series. You see, HIGH-TECH WORLD was never meant to be an Alex Kidd game, a great representative of the fact that the series was never consistent in story, setting, or even gameplay. In HIGH-TECH WORLD, Alex Kidd essentially just completes a bunch of errands for characters sourced from ANMITSU HIME (1987), another Master System game based on a manga of the same name. There’s some slight action, but the majority of the very short game is made up of navigating a big house and grabbing things for people. ALEX KIDD: HIGH-TECH WORLD isn’t very good by any measure, let alone by the general mediocrity of the Alex Kidd series.


Released into arcades the same year as MIRACLE WORLD was released on Master System, this sequel established the Alex Kidd conceit to come: no one game would be totally related to one another. In arcades, Alex was joined by Stella in a two-player mode, and the pair ran through levels collecting…well, collectibles. ALEX KIDD: THE LOST STARS is a pretty simple platformer, and immediately eschewed not only the storyline and setting of its predecessor, but also its most unique gameplay element: Alex’s giant fist. THE LOST STARS, based in arcade hardware, may be the prettiest game in the series, however.


The final Alex Kidd game was, fittingly, probably also not meant to be an Alex Kidd game in the first place. ALEX KIDD IN SHINOBI WORLD is a cutesy parody of Sega’s Shinobi series, a la KID DRACULA (1990) for Castlevania. The player character was probably meant to just be some other childlike ninja, but instead, Alex Kidd was substituted for what would become a pretty inauspicious conclusion to the series. It’s not because the game is terrible, however; in fact, it just plays like a Master System version of Shinobi, which was itself a decent action platformer of the time. It’s actually nearly a toss-up for #1 between the top three games on the list, but at the end of the day, ALEX KIDD IN SHINOBI WORLD feels at once not like an Alex Kidd game and also a stripped down Shinobi. For its time, and against the rest of the Alex Kidd output, it’s OK.


The only direct sequel in the Alex Kidd series is also the only Genesis installment in the series. ALEX KIDD IN THE ENCHANTED CASTLE essentially picks up from where MIRACLE WORLD left off, in spite of some naming inconsistencies and the three games between them. It continues the first Alex Kidd game’s bizarro fantasy vibe, relocated from Planet Aries to Planet Paperock, as Alex searches for his missing father, and it continues the loose and floaty jumping, block punching and kicking, vehicle segments, and rock-paper-scissors minigames from its predecessor. And yet, even though it’s on much-improved hardware, ENCHANTED CASTLE doesn’t really do anything with it. Although it could be said that its graphics and sound are technically better than MIRACLE WORLD’s, this Genesis game’s aesthetics are a little more garish and less cute than the Master System original. It fosters the same game feel as the first Alex Kidd game, but it’s simply not as appealing or fun.


It should be said, however, that ALEX KIDD IN THE ENCHANTED CASTLE is nearly as good as ALEX KIDD IN MIRACLE WORLD. They are, as I mentioned, very similar games, after all. But something about the first Alex Kidd game, which feels very “Japanese” while also fusing Western aesthetic influences, feels so out of time and the general procession of video game history. MIRACLE WORLD is a little overlooked gem; sure, known as the progenitor of the Sega mascot before Sonic, but not experienced nearly as much as, say, SUPER MARIO BROS. (1985). And, to be clear, that makes a lot of sense. As Mario’s direct competitor, Alex Kidd paled in comparison, even more than Sonic did. But played in a vacuum, as a little piece of Sega and video game history, MIRACLE WORLD probably stands as one of the Master System’s best games, whatever that’s worth. I should probably stop giving backhanded compliments. At the end of the day, the game provides a fun, concise platforming experience with a little bit of fun deviation in the form of the vehicle sequences, rock-paper-scissors minigames, and shop system. Its gameplay and graphics are simple, but ALEX KIDD IN MIRACLE WORLD is not only the most fun Alex Kidd game, but also the most endearing.



Tristan Ettleman

I write about movies, music, video games, and more.