The annoyed cacti with the old lady red hat is my favorite.
RELEASE DATE: 11/15/87 – (JP)
ONLY PLAYABLE WITH: The Paddle Control
So far Alex has had an adventure in Miracle World and swapped places with a princess, but learning how to ride a BMX bike might be his greatest challenge yet. And by “his,” I mean, yours, mine, ours. Because unless you/I/we import a Mark III, a Paddle Controller, and BMX Trial: Alex Kidd, we won’t be experiencing the game properly.
Spoilers: I didn’t import a Mark III, Paddle Controller, or a copy of BMX Trial: Alex Kidd for this review. But that’s ok. BMX Trial: Alex Kidd isn’t even a proper Alex Kidd game (since his games encompass numerous genres, one could ask what is a proper Alex Kidd game – my answer would be not BMX Trial), so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on some special adventure. The gist of BMX Trial: Sega shoved Alex onto a bike and said “Get to peddlin’, monkey boy.”
Yeah, I don’t know what you’re doing there either, Alex.
You control Alex from a top-down view, steering him around rocks, trees, other bikers (who shove into you, like those River City Ransom punks), and water with the Paddle Controller. Alex’s health bar decreases as he moves, and if he hits any obstacle, it goes down even further. The goal isn’t to accumulate points or to beat a time limit, but just to get to the next level. Each stage will repeat the same environments until you find an exit (look for the giant purple guy’s gaping mouth, you can’t miss it). Depending on the route you take, the exit you find could take you to a couple different stages. There are five courses total, but thanks to the multiple exits, you’ll only play three of them per playthrough, and you’ll always begin at the Black Forest and end at Radaxian, Alex’s hometown.
The Tanooki boys made short work of Alex.
Thankfully, Alex isn’t helpless in his quest to be the one and only monkey boy who Christ-airs while eating rice balls. There are ramps for both jumping and wheelies (both ramps have the words emblazoned on them in all caps, so you know which is which – thanks Sega!). The former allows you to soar for considerable lengths of time, which is good for water-heavy stages, while the latter will actually turn you briefly invincible and give you items when you land. Items include the aforementioned rice balls for health and rocket boosts which allow you to fly.
If only Alex would have JUMPed…
Memorize the course layouts and you could easily beat BMX Trial in a few minutes. Five courses and varying layouts aside, the game is nothing more than an advertisement for the Paddle Control; a tech demo like Wii Sports, but without the longevity (surprise surprise: in Japan, the Paddle Controller was sold with the game – the two were a bundle deal). Sega obviously cared more about peddling (paddling?) their special controller than crafting a full-fledged Alex Kidd racing game. Besides the wheelies and the jumps, the courses are quaint and uneventful, the obstacles annoying, but not insurmountable. The lack of challenge and depth make BMX Trial a wasted opportunity, particularly when you consider that Sega knows how to craft good racing games; Hang On, OutRun, and Enduro Racer, to name three. Alex Kidd might have been portrayed as Sega’s mascot, but with throwaway games like BMX Trial and Alex Kidd in High-Tech World, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was their whipping boy.
*Just in case you’re following along with me in chronological order, yes, I skipped Zaxxon 3D. I’m waiting for the 3D glasses I ordered to arrive before I get down with the motion sickness. Until the glasses come, I will be continuing with reviews as normal.