Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Review by Zylo the wolf
"This was supposed to be Alex Kidd in his best and well, it actually is one his better games...."
It seems like I start every Alex Kidd review by mentioning that he was supposed to be the mascot that could be a true rival for Nintendo's Mario, but it's important to tell the new generation of gamers that being marketable was more important that actually having quality. The first Alex Kidd game Alex Kidd in Miracle World is rightfully considered to be one of the best games on the Sega Master System, but after that game he didn't get any good, or even okay games for the Sega Master System. In fact, all of them were crap! Lost Stars had no charm like the first game, and looked like it was targeted to 3year olds, High Tech World was a game based on an anime where they just changed a few sprites for the releases outside Japan, and the BMX game was just...boring as hell. Would his 16bit debut save him?
What is really a plesent surprise is that Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle is actually not another stand alone game, but a true sequel to Alex Kidd in Miracle World. That game ended with a cliffhanger which said that Alex Kidd's father was nowhere to be found, and it turns out that his father Thor is actually alive, and is somewhere on the neighbour planet Paperrock. Since all is good now that Alex saved his brother who now is King of the planet Aries, he must now travel to Paperrock to search for his long lost father.
People who played Alex Kidd in Miracle World will have no problem to understand this game, because they are very similar. However Alex Kidd has now learned a new helpful attack which is a jump kick. You where helpless in the previous game if you landed on an enemy, but that is no problem now since Alex does this kick every time he jumps. Some enemies will still kill you if you land on them, but at least you are a bit more in the air now.
Just like pretty much every platformer, the goal of each stage is located at the other side of the stage. What still is important is to collect as much gold as possible since you will be able to bet it in houses which are all over most of the stages. Every house has a Rock, Scissor, Paper contest where you can bet money to get different power up items. All the classics are back like the motorcycle, the helicopter, the magic ring e.t.c. The only new items I can think of are the Pogo Stick which is similar to the snake in Donkey Kong Country 2 and the Pendant which allows you to once what your opponent will choose in the Janken game.
The Janken boss fights are sadly back and this time they are even worse than before. In Alex Kidd in the Miracle World you could learn in when you should pick Paper, when you should pick Scissor and when you should pick Rock. It was also a best out of three in that game, but you only got one chance to get it right in this one. If you did lose the duel in the previous game, it wasn't a big deal because you still respawn right before the boss, sadly this is not the same with this game. If the stage is really big, there might be a check point that you have passed but for most of the time you have to start all over from the beginning of the stage.
It's still the same that one hit is enough to kill you, but when you died in Miracle World, you respawn on the same screen. This was one of the main reasons why Alex Kidd in Miracle World was so fun to play despite it being really difficult. But in this game you always have to start from the beginning of the stage, no matter what it was that killed you. The fact that you can go really high on each stage and are often forced to jump into the sky and just hope that you don't land on something that kills you makes it even more confusing why they decided that you restart from the beginning when you die.
But we all know that the fact that Sega actually made this game worse than Alex Kidd in Miracle World despite being so similar is not the reason why Alex Kidd never managed to become a huge mascot for Sega. It was because he lacked the "cool" attitude. Compare how everything looks in Alex Kidd to other early Mega Drive games like Altered Beasts, Streets of Rage, Revenge of Shinobi, Golden Axe e.t.c and it's pretty clear that his image wasn't what Sega needed to sell more than Nintendo. It's a shame that Alex Kidd just disappeared as soon as a certain blue Hedgehog appeared, but at least this game is somewhat enjoyable.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/26/12
Game Release: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (EU, 1990)
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