Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Review by del20nd
"I'll take paper for my life, Alex."
For those of you not familiar with the history of Alex Kidd, he was Sega's big mascot throughout the latter half of the eighties. He was Mario's "rival" if you will. Sadly, if you don't own a Sega Master System or Power Base Converter, you will only get to see the tail end of this bizarre series of games that only precious few remember.
You control Alex Kidd (no duh) on a search and rescue mission on the far away planet of Paperock. The ultimate goal: rescue Alex's father from the planets evil inhabitants. Wow. Never heard anything similar to that before. Most of the game will be spent as a side scrolling platformer, with the occasional flying and underwater levels to keep things interesting. As you play along, you will realize that many of the Paperock inhabitants like to play Janken (rock, paper, scissors) in bets for rings, helicopters, pogo sticks, and even your mortal soul. Can Alex make it to his father in time? Can he win at Rock Paper Scissors? This much is up to you.
It is time now to decipher an aspect of the game that is of arguable importance, the graphics. While nothing to gawk at these days, Alex Kidd did make good use of parallax scrolling and the color palette. What it did not do, especially in the early levels, was put much detail into the bland background. Every backdrop, with a few exceptions, had a generic linear look to it. No, this does not affect the gameplay, but a little more vivacity would have been nice.
Sound wise, this game was not half bad. Near every level had its own little tune, and those that did share were always of the same theme (ie Rookie Town and Tropics Town.) The first level theme (coincidentally Rookie town) is actually a remix of the first level theme in Alex Kidd in Miracle World, a little homage for fans of the series (all nineteen of you.)
Level design was very clever in this game. Most levels actually felt more like two levels merged into one. What I mean to say is, there are many alternative routes for each level. Often a level will have several screens of obstacles and goodies overhead for helicopter users exclusively. One such level, level four, even has thematic shapes made out of the obstacle bricks above. Sometimes, you will have to jump in a certain spot to break through the floor into a secret dungeon. While not as exciting as the helicopter levels, these are sure to give you something to look for throughout the game. Overall, this adds significantly to the replay value, as you will want to find as many alternative level routes as you can.
Inverse to the level design, control in this game is pretty shaky. It takes some getting used to before you can master the Kidd. Particularly tricky is the mid-air kick. By letting go of the jump button while in mid-air, you perform a flying kick. Learn to time this right, and you are unstoppable, but one split second off means certain death. Another kind of annoying occurance is punch lag time. After a punch, Alex has to reel his arm back in which takes about a precious half second. Not bad if you punched correctly, but if you punched too early, you're outta luck. My advice is to bet on as many rings and helicopters as you can possibly afford, as both offer you a projectile.
I recommend this game for any big Sega fanatic out there looking for a great game they may have looked over. It will provide you with several more hours of enjoyment, and is well worth the 5 bucks it will probably cost you at your local flea market. The game is uncommon, but not rare; so pick it up if you find it, but don't go nuts looking for it. Overall, weighing the good against the bad, I would have to settle on a 7/10 for this wannabe killer app.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/22/07
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