Saturday 21 August 2021

Alex Kidd: BMX Trial (Sega Master System review)

Developer: Sega R&D 2
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1987

Alex Kidd: BMX Trial is a Japanese-only title that uses the Paddle Controller.

It consists of five obstacle courses and the objective is to reach the finish point in each before your health runs out. Other competitors try to push you off your bike, but you can avoid them by driving over the Wheelie markers (provides temporary invincibility), or jumping over ramps. Once you're familiar with where the finish points are located you can complete the game in a matter of minutes; however, compensating for the short length is the punishing difficulty and most players will have to replay the same opening course ad-nauseum until they finally manage to stay alive long enough to reach the exit. This is usually by luck rather than skill and the overly aggressive competitors always seem to have the upper hand thanks to their ability to attack (something you don't have). While the Wheelie markers do provide respite, your controls also lock up for a moment meaning that it's easy to miss a jump and end up in the water. As a whole, the controls are overly twitchy and attempting to swiftly dodge fellow riders will usually see you careening directly into an oncoming hazard. Despite the lack of a timer, taking things slowly isn't an option as your health constantly depletes, leaving you with no option but to memorise every single part of each course and hope that competitors leave you alone. Not that's it's worth the effort anyway, as the level design is shockingly weak and after playing through an individual course you'd be forgiven for thinking that the developers put 2-3 screens together and then repeated them for its entirety. Finally, the PSG music consists of short, ear-piercing loops that quickly grate on you.

Alex Kidd: BMX Trial is a terrible spin-off that takes the series in a misguided direction away from its platforming roots. Every single part of the game is poor and the lack of care when developing the stage design, locales, controls and music results in an experience that's nothing more than a mild curiosity to Alex Kidd fans. 

Random trivia: The game also includes an FM soundtrack, although this isn't advertised on the box.

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