As I got closer to the end of this game, I realised that I’d almost certainly never completed it. I recognised every level up until the 7th one (in the cave), and then have vague memories of a castle, but I think the castle memory may even have come from the Mega Drive Alex Kidd game.
I also realised why I don’t think I’ve completed it. There are a few tricky sections (the one near the end with the spikes in the water can do one, for example), but the main reason was that winning relies entirely on luck! The janken matches are seemingly random, and you’ve no way of telling what your opponent is going to choose. At least in Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle there’s a power up that lets you see what they’re thinking, but in the Master System version? It’s all guesswork.
Other than that, it’s a pretty decent game. Alex slides all over the place as he has weird physics and friction, and the collision detection is a bit rubbish (the octopus and the samurai bosses in particular). The question mark blocks are also almost always worth ignoring too, meaning they’re pointless – most of the time they have that baddie that just homes in on you, so it’s not worth the risk.
Not the best Sega Ages re-release on the Switch, but I got it in a sale so I’m not disappointed.
I’ve completed two Alex Kidd games before – Miracle World on the Master System, and The Enchanted Castle (which is essentially a remake) on the Mega Drive. Neither were anything special, but they were both reasonably good platformers. I’ve briefly played some other Alex Kidd titles, but never finished them. However, I’d never played The Lost Stars before today.
It’s a very simple platformer. Alex Kidd doesn’t have his big punch move, the collision detection is ropey and although the levels are varied none of them are particularly impressive. The graphics are big and chunky and very colourful, so I expect this was a decent show-off title to NES owners back in the day even though it’s nowhere near the same level as things like Super Mario Bros or Duck Tales gameplay-wise. It also suffers from flicker and slowdown a little, although not so much that it bothered me.
Alex runs and jumps through the levels (and swims, in one of them) from left to right mainly avoiding enemies although he can fire a limited number of whirlwinds at them with the right power-up. Other power-ups include a time-limited higher jump and an item that replenishes the health/time bar. Yes, just like Wonder Boy, The Lost Stars has a stupid combined bar which slowly depletes by itself, buy also loses a chunk when you get hit. It was rubbish in Wonder Boy and it’s rubbish here.
Speaking of Wonder Boy, at least one of the levels here appears to be a homage to it. Some of the other levels also seem to borrow from other Sega games – I’m pretty sure there’s a Zillion themed area for one, and there’s an Opa-Opa hiding one of the “miracle balls” you have to collect.
On the final level, which has very low gravity making all the jumps incredibly easy, there’s no miracle ball, but completing it throws you back at the start of the game again. Only, unlike Teddy Boy, the levels become harder and there’s a second set of miracle balls to collect. Only by running through all the levels again (which I did) do you get the True Ending: a black screen with the words “The End” on it. That’s it. Thanks, Sega!
Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is a mediocre game with very little in common with the other Alex Kidd games, it would seem. There are plenty of better Master System platformers (Miracle World, Sonic, Asterix, The Lucky Dime Caper, Castle of Illusion… the list goes on) so there’s very little here to recommend it. Still, it wasn’t terrible, so that’s something? Oh, and the FM sound is lovely, so make sure you use an emulator with that turned on if you do play it.
I’m still confused as to why it’s called The Lost Stars when it’s actually Miracle Balls you have to collect, though.