When we think of remasters nowadays, the first thing that springs to mind is new, shiny graphics.
In fact, it's normally the only thing we think about because it's what's in front of us immediately. Gameplay and mechanics come later, but graphics are right there and easy to parse in comparison. What makes 'Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX' so intriguing is that while it does have a shiny, rich overhaul of its graphics, updating the palette from 1986 - that's thirty-five years ago, folks - it does so in a completely tasteful way. It highlights and accentuates things, almost like it's filling in the blanks from your imagination from when you played all that time ago on the Sega Master System.
Underneath this, however, much of the game has been preserved in its original form. The earworm soundtrack is every bit as charming as you remember, the puzzles are still as challenging, the quirks of some levels, the weird scissors-paper-rock that punctuates each level, the motorbike and the helicopter, they're all there exactly as you remember but with a few accoutrements added to give it extra zest. The story is much more involved and legible, as are some of the levels. NPCs actually make sense now. Many of the game-breaking glitches of the original are gone. You'll still find yourself cursing your stupidity in some of the early levels, and while it can be unforgiving, you can turn on an infinite lives option to get you through if you just want to experience the game without destroying a controller in frustration.
Yet, in spite of all these affectionate updates, there's almost a slavish adherence to the original that prevents it from being truly enjoyable. Let's not forget that 'Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX' was released 35 years ago, and that platformers and games have moved on since then. If you're going to go that far into the past, there needs to be more than just a graphics overhaul. The controls and the combat in 'Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX' are still as clunky as they were in 1986 as they are now. You'll find yourself dying when you punch and kill an enemy because you misjudged the distance by a fraction of a pixel. In that sense, this remake learns none of the original's mistakes because it can't see any faults. There are plenty of faults in 'Alex Kidd In Miracle World'. The franchise never took off for Sega in any kind of meaningful way, and was largely consigned to the dustbin of history before this remake.
It's telling then that 'Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX' originally began life as a fan-led remake before it got the official sign-off by Sega and was released with their blessing. Yet, unlike other efforts along the lines of 'Sonic Mania', 'Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX', it fails to move on and is still trapped in 1986. You can even zap the graphics and soundtrack back to the original with a flick of a button, too. In spite of this, the game is a nostalgia trip for players and it's not particularly taxing on the bank account either. If you're so inclined to journey back to the era of the Master System and the also-ran gaming franchise of Sega, 'Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX' is as good a remake of a game that probably doesn't deserve the treatment.