Review by zenGOSM
"A Platform Puzzle For Those Who Like A Challenge"
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle.
This game is a solid platformer. It will be most liked by fans of the genre, people who like a challenge, and those who don't mind repeatedly pushing a button. It will be hated most by those who don't like having to start over from the beginning every time you get a game over, those who don't like dying after being hit once, and those who are frustrated easily.
An early Sega mascot, the Alex Kidd franchise has fallen on hard times. This title was the last entry in the series; an early release on the Sega Genesis in the late 1980's. My copy of this game is for Sega's Genesis motion control console, which has controller more similar to a Wiimote than the Genesis controller, and allows you to start from nearly any level in the game.
This game follows the traditional platform style of gameplay. You walk your character across the screen, and jump to dodge obstacles. Enemies can also be defeated with a punch attack or a flying kick. Several power up items are available to the player to make the game considerably easier. The player must play a game of rock paper scissors in order to get any of these items.
The walking controls are great, but the jumping controls are a bit tricky to get the hang of. Alex slides around a little bit on landing, making jumping on single blocks a challenge. Those who get frustrated by difficult jumping sequences may have a hard time finishing this game, as the second to last level requires some very precise jumping.
Combat in this game is not recommended without power ups. Alex's punch is very short, making it difficult to judge whether your attack will connect, or if you'll get hit first. Alex's jumping kick is dangerous and tricky to use. He begins his kick attack as soon as you release the jumping button, which takes some getting used to, and may cause you to knock out some blocks that you didn't intend to. Actually using this kick to destroy an aerial foe is nearly out of the question. The area in which the kick connects is very small and in front of Alex, meaning that if you don't hit the enemy just right, your attack will turn against you. Compounding these issues, Alex dies if he gets hit by the enemy just once. With the bracelet however, both his punch and kick launch a projectile, making combat quite safe. I have reset this game just because I lost my bracelet before.
The power ups are a necessity, and they are all fun to use. Most of them can be used as much as you like, but if you die while using them you lose them. The bracelet is a necessity. The pogo stick is fun and lets you jump higher, but I've yet to find a place in this game where it would actually be useful. The staff lets you float in the air, and is useful if you don't want to make a tricky jump, but once you use it, it's gone. The motorcycle is lots of fun, lets you make jumps you wouldn't normally, and kills most enemies you come into contact with, but it disappears if you crash. The helicopter is useful, but a pain to use. You have to repeatedly hit the jump button to fly, and if you stop you wind up losing a bunch of altitude. What's worse, if you fly up to high and accidentally bump your head, you lose it. The helicopter may be a deal breaker for some, because there's an entire level that is only the helicopter. The cape is an invincibility item. The pendant allows you to see what a boss is thinking of using in rock paper scissors, and therefore is the most important item of all. Most levels where you encounter a boss also have one of these hidden away in a green treasure chest.
The rock paper scissors games are an important part of this game. You have to win them to get items, and you have to win them to get past bosses. This might seem like a deal breaker, because how you do seems up to chance, but there is a pattern to what the item games throw that stays them same in every game, and you can use a pendant to help you defeat a boss with ease.
Each level is well crafted, and most of them have more than one way to traverse the level. I found that it took me quite some time to determine which way would be the best way to go if I want to beat the game. Some secret passages contain extra lives, some contain pendants to be used to beat the boss. You are well rewarded for exploring. There are no truly frustrating points in the game, but don't expect to beat it on your first try. Like many good platformers, this game demands careful exploration of each of it's levels, even multiple times to be successful. You may not enjoy this game if you become frustrated at dying often.
This game's graphics are typical Sega Genesis fare. Alex's sprite is fantastic and perfectly represents the artwork. The only enemy that doesn't turn out well is the guy in the second level who pushes around a big round rock. I have no idea what he is supposed to be.
The backgrounds In this game are very well done. The one that stands out to me is the underwater level. It wasn't too spectacular, but I thought that the underwater mountain was a nice touch.
The music in this game is pretty good for the most part. It reminded me of The music in Mario Kart, actually. There were no sound effects that stood out, which was good.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/27/12
Game Release: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (US, 04/11/07)
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