FGC #163 Alex Kidd the Lost Stars

Always bouncing!I awoke one morning from uneasy dreams to find myself confronted by a most mysterious sound. It was a voice, originating from some unseen location. It beckoned by shouting, “I am the Miracle Wall!”

“What do you want from me, Miracle Wall!?” I replied.

I am the Miracle Wall!” it replied.

This call and refrain continued for another 45 minutes. Frankly, I just didn’t want to get out of bed.

***

Fun and gamesIt had been a challenging morning, so I decided to go to the local amusement park. I had assumed the mirth and joviality of this accessible fun zone would sooth my weary soul, but I found naught but danger in this former sanctuary. At the front gates, I was greeted by a dog that barked with such force that it drained the life from my body. Past the pup, I encountered walking playing cards straight out of a Carrollian tale. Bottomless pits had developed between attractions, and my only recourse was suspending myself over the abyss via monorail track. The monorail itself tried to knock me from this precarious position on more than one occasion, and I admit I may have… damaged at least one of the conveyances. I pray for the souls that hoped to find simple transportation, but found only carnage. There is little room on those singular rails…

Toward the rear of the amusement park, I was beset by murderous clowns and a gigantic bear balloon that played deadly music. It sounded like a polka composed by escaped Nazis from the depths of Hades. I found it off-putting. But past the bear I found a mysterious present that contained an entire constellation. Recently, I heard tales that the stars in the sky had gone dark, and perhaps this localized shining phenomenon was related.

I vowed then and there to find the remaining lost constellations. Somewhere, off in the distance, I heard a familiar wall bellow its name.

***

SPACE... kinda?This was a space problem, right? I knew the great hero Opa-Opa was docked at our local space port, so I decided to query the spacecraft for clues. Unfortunately, it appeared that this facility had been possessed by the same malevolence that infected the formerly innocent amusement park, and my quest for answers would not be an easy one. Conveyor belts that seemed to serve no purpose than to shove me into awaiting poking fingers did their best to hamper my progress. Doors opened and closed haphazardly, and I believe a pit opened in the floor simply to release slithering snakes. I leapt across pistons and swung from vines made of CAT5. I wondered how this dock could ever support guests that were less acrobatic than I. Was I chasing a space hero that was already at the bottom of some electronic pit?

Luckily, Opa-Opa seemed to be okay, if perhaps lethargic. The electrical trap that nearly singed my perfectly laundered overalls seemed to have damaged Opa-Opa, and he was not in a talking mood. Luckily, Opa-Opa had retrieved one of the constellations in his travels, so I was one step closer to my goal of repopulating the night sky. Opa-Opa pointed me toward a foreboding forest, and a pumpkin that may aid me there.

And if the Miracle Wall had something to say about the situation, I chose to ignore it.

***

Nothing at all...This place is madness, and I fear for the safety of not only my body, but my mind.

This forest greeted me with skeletons. “Fair enough,” I thought to myself, “Scary environs often house spooky reminders of man’s mortality. This is to be expected on a noble quest such as mine.” A demon’s head then hurled fire at me, and, again, I was unshaken. “This is a place of witchcraft and necromancy, but I will survive, for my cause is just.” Then, after leaping across a group of pitcher plants, I encountered…. It…

It… appeared in the guise of a man. A naked man, save a pair of sunglasses. Granted, I could not identify any genitals on this “man”, but it… I assumed it to be a man. But it was not enough that this man was wandering a forest of death as naked as the day he was spawned, oh no, this man was naked and shooting skulls out of his butt. Yes, a seemingly infinite number of skeleton heads rolled forth from his posterior, and…

I cannot take this…

Where did the skulls come from? Why were they so numerous? The dimensions… the physics of the situation where beyond my fathoming. This was an average sized man, not much larger than I. How could he shoot something the size of his own head out of his backside? Why did he choose this location to roll these skulls from his hindquarters? And why, a few feet later, did I encounter another, identical man with the exact same affliction?!

This forest is insanity, plain and simple. I retrieved a constellation from a jack-o-lantern, but I fear even the Miracle Wall cannot soothe my shattered psyche.

***

DampIn a moment of weakness, I admit I may have tried to drown myself. If pure madness had come to my happy world, I was going to go beneath the waves, and dwell with the Dark Ones in the cold embrace of the sea.

Then I realized I was already wearing my snorkeling gear, so, hey, why not go for a nice swim? As I should have expected by now, I was attacked by an octopus, and, shortly thereafter, a cyclopean electric eel. It appears even our waters are not immune to the terrors that have infected our world, and, by the time I encountered a gigantic fish that seemed to exist as five completely separate pieces, I felt nothing at all.

I was also nearly crippled by poisonous bottles haphazardly dumped into our precious ocean. In happier times, I may have believed this to be a sign to take up a more active campaign to clean up our most valuable aquatic resources, but now? I know it’s just one more thing in this bizarre world that is trying to end my quest/life.

I found a clam hiding another constellation beneath the waves. I asked the Miracle Wall how such a thing could happen, but I received the same tired reply.

***

Dinos!Upon leaving the ocean, I found myself on an ancient island. Dinosaurs appeared to roam this isolated patch of Earth, and I learned more than most paleontologists could hope to discover in a lifetime. Did you know that many dinosaurs could fly, and reproduced by hurling quick-hatching eggs at the ground? Or that they lived close enough to volcanoes to be lovingly showered in lava? It’s amazing what you can absorb when observing a creature in its natural habitat.

But I knew this savage land must once have been touched by man. There was an impossibly resilient red balloon that I used to float away from a gigantic, rolling boulder. And a zipline had been erected to aid my traversal of these mountains, too; though, unfortunately, a lazy dinosaur had decided to open his mouth at the base of the line’s descent. Had this creature learned the lay of the land, and decided food would ride its way into his toothy maw? Or, had this monster somehow constructed the whole device for its own benefit? After 65 million years, were the dinos finally smart enough to join society?

No matter, I found another constellation in a dinosaur’s egg. What was I doing smashing open a dinosaur egg? Perhaps only the Miracle Wall knows for sure.

***

What is even happening?I’m… pretty sure I just encountered a world made of teeth, partially digested spaghetti, and gravity defying sandwiches.

I…

There was a baby head rolling…

I…

I don’t want to talk about it.

There was a constellation hiding under a covered dish. It now occurs to me that I have no idea how to get these constellations back into space. Miracle Wall, want to live up to your name?

***

SPACE for realThe Miracle Wall was useless (as always), but Opa-Opa gave me a ride to the furthest reaches of outer space. My prodigious jumping abilities are downright herculean in the vacuum of space, and I’m doing my absolute best to not consider how few atmospheres I’m breathing while I dodge falling meteors. There appear to be space monsters that can knock me over with their roars here in otherwise-pretty-quiet open space, but I’ve learned not to overthink my world or anywhere else in the universe. The Space Soldiers shooting lasers don’t even get a second glance, though those eternally burning space ovens do give me pause.

After escaping an unruly sun, I discovered Ziggurat, a metal pyramid floating in space that is topped with the Statue of Liberty. I do not recall its construction, but it is a shining beacon of… stuff that comes from the American Continent? No, I will not overthink this. My job is to return the constellations to the sky, and, from atop Lady Space Liberty, I do just that.

My quest is over.

***

This morning I awoke to be informed that there are apparently six constellations still missing. I don’t care. It’s my day off.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go Reagan on the Miracle Wall.

FGC #163 Alex Kidd the Lost Stars

  • System: Sega Master System and Arcade. I think it also made it to the Wii at some point.
  • Number of players: Two player alternating, assuming you can get your Master System to do that.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: Alex Kidd comes from the old era of platformers when absolutely nothing made sense, and if someone made a stage that looked like maybe the inside of a mouth, sure, let’s make some giant SPACE?teeth sprites. That said, it plays like old school Adventure Island, so you’re encouraged to barrel forward at all times. In fact, I’d say about 90% of the hazards in this game may be avoided if you just outpace their spawn areas.
  • Favorite level: Once again, I’m impressed by how much fun an underwater stage can be on Sega hardware. Did underwater stages only suck on the Nintendo? No, wait, Sonic
  • Powerup: There’s a jump powerup that is temporary and will inevitably fade just before a gigantic pit. There’s also a powerup that will grant twenty “shots” (they’re not fireballs, but they kill things pretty well). I don’t think there are twenty whole monsters in any given level of this game, so that’s a pretty good number of bullets.
  • Did you know? Alex Kidd was originally Sega’s big bad mascot, but he got unseated by a certain hedgehog. They both seem to have a thing for always running, though, so I guess they have a little bit in common.
  • Would I play again: This was surprisingly fun for such an “early” game, but it’s no Mario. And I can always play more Mario.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… F-Zero X for the N64! Race for the checkered flag of the future! Please look forward to it!

One Response »

  1. It’s nice that The Lost Stars is such a weird game and all, but I can’t help but find it disappointing that Sega chose THIS as the follow-up to Alex Kidd in Miracle World, even if it is a port of an arcade game.

    Going from a game that felt sorta like a punchy and more kill happy Kid Icarus (complete with ratchet scrolling, an inventory system, and fortress stages) to a more bog standard platformer is like a huge step backwards, like maybe if Donkey Kong came out AFTER Super Mario Bros. 3.

    Sadly, the one time Alex Kidd did revisit his roots, Sega fucked it up so badly that even an Alex-branded Shinobi game couldn’t save the Kidd from the tiny li’l Grim Reaper.

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