Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Review by Unleashed Vortex
"I Kidd you not."
So, after a successive run on the Master System, was Sega's then-mascot ready for the big time? After releasing five games on Sega's 8-bit system it was running low on appeal and most Sega fans were eager to shelve their Master System for a while and plug into a then-new dimension of gaming. After the release of a few titles such as Altered Beast for example Sega decided to bring the Kidd back for a whole new dimension. Did it work and was the fantastic charm that the first game produced or did it flop like the unspeakable Alex Kidd in High-Tech world?
The story of the game is once again eccentric and bizarre. This time Alex has had his father kidnapped and now he has to go and rescue them. It seems that Alex now lives on a planet called Aeries and that's what he must be the prince of! They could have told you that when you played Miracle world so actually knew what was going on! Never mind though, It doesn't make any difference so I will continue. Just for the record, the game was released in 1989 before Sonic even appeared on the scene so it was one of the early releases, obviously.
The familiar style of Alex Kidd in Miracle World returns here and a lot of old bits and pieces are restored. The controls are almost identical to the Master System game except you use the extra Mega Drive controller button to perform a flying kick so you don't have to be concerned about jumping head first into an enemy and having your ass kicked (the one-hit kill system is also restored). In an unexpected move, the ever-popular game of Janken has also been brought back after a long absence. Unlike the other game, you use the Janken (rock-paper-scissors) to win items in competitions instead of using it to fight bad guys. Basically you will find doorways throughout the levels and if you enter you will challenged by the character inside to a game of Janken. If you defeat the character, you will win the item but the best two out of three games of Janken against a boss is missed and missed badly. Shame!
The items you can win are similar to the ones in Miracle world; you have a pogo stick, which makes you jump higher. You have your magic staff, which enables you to float temporarily, a cape that gives you limited invincibility that can be handy for harder levels. The bracelet from Miracle World is also back and it's the same as ever. Other items will include vehicles such as a motorbike, which is great because it sends you speeding for ages in one direction, and kills anyone you hit which is very handy. You also have a helicopter that can launch missiles at enemies and is unlimited until you are hit. You also collect items in various treasure chests and rocks which will open and give you cash, which you will need to compete against bad guys because it costs quite a lot later.
A nice variety of levels in the game make it pleasurable experience to play. First of all you start off in a village plagued by seemingly possessed cars and aeroplanes and then continue to an underwater levels with oversized fish and one killer octopus. You will go through a desert and into an old pyramid that will have such stereotypical enemies such as scorpions and mummies. Other worlds include a lush forest filled with dancing baboons (who look hilarious I might add), and a pain in the ass woodcutter. The final stage is the Sky Castle, not the Enchanted Castle, which is full of toy soldiers, and one very annoying maze level that is very hard to complete but it's what true last levels are made of.
The graphics at first look fairly poor, but when you start playing but when you continue on into the game you will appreciate the beauty of it. Like The Wind Waker in some sense but a bit different because you already had an idea what the graphics on this game were like but with Zelda you didn't have much warning. The visuals are very bright and cartoon-like and a lot of the characters actually look great although comical, in a way. Most of the sprites look very cute and cuddly even the most vicious of them are cute (like the gorilla guy), so I guess most people will find the graphics interesting to say the least. The sprites may be good but the backgrounds aren't.as the majority of the backgrounds are dull and boring. Mainly because they tend to be one colour with a few apparitions in it but not wholly impressive.
If you are a true Kidd fan then you will recognise the first level music almost instantly because the level music and the Janken tunes are taken directly from Alex Kidd in Miracle World and are given a boost with the Genesis' sound processor. They sound brilliant and if you are fan of the series you will like them even more so. The quality of the music is great, despite the fact that the system was at its early days. None of the tunes sound stupid and loud like some games on the system did. The sound effects are also quite good like the sound when Alex dies which sounds funny and when you play Janken you a treated to some actual speech (even though it's grainy as hell) during the throw.
So, I found the Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle a charming platform game with few flaws. It's easy to control, you get a lot of items to play with, it's not too short and it is quite addictive. Graphically it is different to say the least but is great in its simplicity and it has relatively decent music which is worth listening to so. It's a classic plaformer and a nice addition to any gamers collection.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/20/04, Updated 11/27/04
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