Well, maybe it's blown. To be honest, there weren't many home consoles that included full games built into them, but the American, European and Australian versions of the Master System included Alex Kidd in Miracle World, a game originally released in 1986. It replaced Snail Maze, the game built into the original Master System, and was naturally a lot better, owing to the fact that it was an actual game, and not something built into the BIOS.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a bit of a strange game on paper. You controlled Alex as he traversed the world, attempting to defeat Janken the Great and his three henchmen, rescue his brother, and restore peace. It's all a bit silly really, but we should be grateful that it was a bit more fleshed out than "Save the Prince!", even though that's what it basically boiled down to.
The appeal wasn't so much in the story, it was in the actual game itself. Despite its cartoony visuals, this game was not easy. If it looked like it could kill you, it was more than likely going to. From dragons and bats to octopuses and ghosts, Alex Kidd needed his wits about him, as one hit from pretty much anything spelt death. Nevertheless, the game was still fun, and whilst you'd die often, they were hardly ever cheap.
On the odd occasion, the on-foot platforming was broken up with levels which you had to traverse on a motorbike or in a helicopter, but the basic jist remained the same, only sometimes you'd actually be going right to left instead of the other way around. You could also shoot things with the helicopter, to make up for the fact that you can't punch enemies.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World takes a turn for the downright bizarre when it comes to the boss fights. For the first round, you are at the mercy of pure pot luck as you participate in a game of Jan-ken-pon (Rock-Paper-Scissors for us Westerners). Whilst there are items you can buy that allow you to read the boss' mind, these can only be used once. Often infuriating, you can actually die by guessing wrong. It's hardly perfect game design, and yet the exact same mechanic was used in the Mega Drive sequel, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle.
Looking back on the game now, it was hardly a masterpiece. But before Sonic laced his red shoes up and sped into the distance, Alex Kidd was the centrepiece on SEGA's mantle, and Miracle World was arguably the high point of his reign. OK, he couldn't match what Mario was doing, but he was never competition, only a very viable alternative.
It's 1990, and you've just receieved a SEGA Master System II as a present, and for a game that was free with it, Alex Kidd in Miracle World wasn't all that bad.
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