Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Review by bbears
Alex the Kidd: the Enchanted Castle is 2D platformer released in 1989. For those not in the know, Alex the Kidd was actually Sega's first attempt to find a falgship mascot to compete with Nintendo's Mario. Since you more than likely have not heard of this franchise Alex the Kidd obviously failed. Even for the day this title is generic and uninspired. The game is then further mired by abysmal controls and even worse hit detection. While the franchise did see some success on the Sega Master System this Genesis title was to be it's biggest test, and when it failed also proved to be it's last game.
Alex Kidd in concept and presentation are decent enough, but back then this genre was overflowing with titles and this game does nothing to distinguish itself. There is a plot, basically you are trying to save you father on the alien world paper rock world. The plot is told only through the box art and ending. Nothing special but this was also the norm for the time. Alex has two actions; a punch and jump. When you jump Alex automatically kicks. Most of the enemies are generic and can destroy and push various environmental objects. Using these basic functions you journey across 11 levels of widely varying difficulty mostly using platforming skills to avoid enemies and gain coins. The one original part of the game is the dependence on rock paper scissors. When you meet bosses you don't actually fight them. Instead you have a bout of rock paper scissors. You are on rock paper world after all.... This is very anticlimactic and it's frustrating to sent back on a challenging stage after losing simply on luck at the end. The one place where this is utilized well though is multiple levels have challenge bouts. Here you can wager coins and gain items that will make your next stage much easier. And winning at least on to get a particular item is needed for the final boss fight.
The problems with the game start with the controls. Alex feels like he has butter on his shoes. Making precise jumps is very hard as when you land more times than not you will simply slide off. Getting a feel for the jumping mechanics are very touchy and even after beating the game I still never got comfortable with them. Also the game does not respond quickly to your inputs and this will also contribute to frustration in the tight jumping sections. Collision detection is also another big issue. Your jump kick in particular seems to have a no better than 50/50 shot of actually registering when you make contact with it. Lastly the other big issue with the game is the whole concept of the rock paper scissors boss battles at the end of stages. As I mentioned previously this can become quickly irritating setback.
Alex the Kidd the Enchanted Castle is easily available by multiple means and cheap. That said I do do think you should avoid this one. There are so many great platformers from the era why give this frustrating generic one a chance?
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/12
Game Release: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (US, 08/14/89)
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