Remember Alex Kidd? If you're a younger gamer than you'd be forgiven for answering in the negative. Sega's former mascot had his brief moment of fame during the 8-bit era but was unceremoniously swept aside when Sonic arrived in the early '90s, and has been relegated to a bit-player in the company's history, occasionally turning up for cameo roles.
It has long been assumed that Alex Kidd was created to combat the rising popularity of Nintendo's Mario, and the character was certainly positioned as a rival at the time; during the war between the Master System and NES (which, let's be honest, was mainly fought in Europe and Brazil), Alex was Sega's most famous face; Alex Kidd in Miracle World was pre-loaded onto the console and was arguably the closest Sega fans got to a genuine Super Mario Bros. rival at the time.
However, there have been rumblings in the past that Alex Kidd wasn't actually designed to fight Mario, but instead came out of a failed licensing attempt. Some time ago, French YouTuber anthogeek posted a video which made comparisons between Alex Kidd and Dragon Ball, the famous Japanese manga and anime series created by Akira Toriyama in 1984. Some of these relate to slight visual links between key characters and enemies, while others - such as the use of the game "Rock, Paper, Scissors" in both - are more obvious.
However, we now have solid evidence from a former Sega staffer that the game was indeed intended to be a Dragon Ball video game before being hastily re-fitted with Alex in the lead role.
The revelation comes from none other than Kotaro Hayashida, creator of the character. Incredibly media-shy, Hayashida speaks to John Szczepaniak as part of this Untold History of Japanese Game Developers project, explaining exactly how it started:
Sega were planning on making a Dragon Ball game... I guess this happened long enough ago that it's okay for me to talk about this! The project began as a Dragon Ball title, not as a direct competitor to Super Mario Bros.
But when we were told we could not use the Dragon Ball licence any more, we were forced to come up with our own ideas instead. For example, when it was Dragon Ball, Goku fought with his Power Pole, but we changed that to a punch attack. It was only after we came up with the plan to restart the project as Alex Kidd in Miracle World that we starting thinking about Mario, and looking for ways in which to differentiate the title from it.
Dragon Ball has since become a popular media property in its own right and spawned the excellent Dragon Ball FighterZ on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. It's amazing to think that the series shares a connection with Sega's forgotten mascot; one wonders what things would have been like had Sega secured the licence and not created Alex Kidd.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Wed 28th February, 2018.
It's such a great little game. The only thing I wish they could have improved was the controls that felt a little unwieldy and unforgiving at times, particularly in the water sections. But a really great game nonetheless, especially once you get into it.
Not an isolated case considering Mega Man's origins as an Astro Boy game (IIRC) and Blizzard's WarCraft and StarCraft with their roots in Warhammer Fantasy/40k licenses...
Also explains why Alex Kidd looks a lot like a monkey. Who knows, maybe if he was a monkey he'd sell better.
Wow that is cool, now imagine if they kept the Dragon Ball concept for Alex Kidd and go right into DBZ with his later games, maybe we might even see Alex Kidd go Super Saiyan. Oh wait...
Poor Alex Kidd, you almost made it.
Miracle World is one of my all time favorite games! But i guess that's obvious
That... makes a lot of sense!
I was able to beat this game many times over in my childhood, mainly becasue I'd been given a hand-written cheat sheet for all the janken battles AND the order of the pink stones.
Somewhat surprised by learning tha it was supposed to be a Dragon Ball game, but in hindsight it looks super obvious.
I found Miracle World to be pretty hard. Barely got to the second level.
Maybe I'll try it again.
Learned something new today
Alex Kidd will forever be known to me personally as that one character I vaguely remember from Sonic Racing Transformed on the 3DS.
And I also realize how saddening that may be for more experienced gamers 😅
Alarm: French video!
Anyway, it doesn't surprise me: Alex kid is a refurbished Goku.
I’m glad history went the way it did. I love enchanted castle.
I had no clue. Makes sense though. Story definitely feels made up on the fly.
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