Genre: Platformer Developer: Sega Enterprises Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1989
So, after a successive run on the Master System, was Sega’s then-mascot ready for the big time? 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, Sega decided to bring the Kidd back for another try. Did it work? Was it able to reproduce the fantastic charm of the original or did it flop like the abominable Alex Kidd in High-Tech World?
The story of the game is once again eccentric and bizarre. This time Alex’s father is found to be alive and well on the planet Paperock and it’s up to the prince with the large ears to bring him back. Someone is always trying to snatch away a member of the royal family. It would appear that the castle needs tighter security.
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 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). 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 original two-out-of-three games is missed and missed badly. for shame!
The items you can win are similar to the ones in Miracle World. You have a pogo stick for jumping higher, a magic staff which enables you to float temporarily, as well as a cape that gives you limited invincibility (can definitely be handy for harder levels). The bracelet from Miracle World is also back and it’s the same as ever. Other items include vehicles such as a motorbike (kills anyone you hit) and a helicopter that can launch missiles at enemies and lasts until you are hit. You also collect items in various treasure chests and rocks which will open up and give you cash for competing against bosses.
A nice variety of levels in the game make it pleasurable experience to play. First of all you start of in a village plagued by seemingly possessed cars and airplanes and then continue to an underwater level 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 is truly the stuff that great last levels are made of.
The graphics at first, look fairly poor but when you continue on into the game you begin to appreciate their simple yet elegant beauty. The visuals are very bright and cartoon-like and a lot of the characters actually look great yet comical in a way. Most of the sprites look very cute and cuddly and even the most vicious of them look cute (like the stone troll guy), so I guess most people will find the graphics interesting to say the least. The sprites are decently detailed but the backgrounds aren’t. Perhaps it’s just me but I found them quite dull and boring, mainly because they tend to be one colour with few differences.
If you are true Kidd fan then you will recognize the first level music almost instantly because the level music and the Janken tune 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 top notch and the effects are also quite good (the sound when Alex dies is very funny) and when you play Janken you are even treated to some actual speech (even though it’s grainy as hell).
Overall, I found Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle to be 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 it’s great in its simplicity and has relatively decent music.
SCORE: 9 out of 10