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Playing Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle is all it takes to understand why the character didn't live on beyond 1990. The game is 16-bit, but plays as an artifact from the 8-bit generation – and not even a good artifact. It's frustrating, hard to control, and uses arbitrary games of chance in its design where skill-based challenges should be present. Alex Kidd in Miracle World was a major hit for the Sega Master System in the mid-80s. If that 8-bit Sega console ends up getting added to the Virtual Console roster in the future, then that game may be worth a download. But this Genesis follow-up is simply a let-down, and it's not worth 800 of your Wii Points to experience. Some games, and some characters, are better left in the past.
If that's not bad enough, the game relies on a completely random game of Rock, Paper, Scissors for boss fights and bonus items. Victory comes from blind luck, and you'll sit there plugging away at the same sections over and over, hoping the law of averages means you'll eventually choose the right option and escape from this Groundhog Day gaming hell.
Alex Kidd controls a little awkwardly and the level design isn't anywhere near as cleverly designed as a Mario platformer. The one hit and die mechanics seem a little harsh at times too. Still all the elements come together to make a charming and fun game, just not a classic. Graphically, it's not really a massive leap up from the Master System titles and although the music is annoyingly catchy, only a fool would suggest that it makes full use of the hardware. This is a first-generation Megadrive / Genesis title and it shows.
Before Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega's company mascot was a boy with big ears and monkeylike features named Alex Kidd. Sega tried its best to push Alex as a mascot by producing a number of games featuring the character for the 8-bit Sega Master System console, but people never took to Alex or his games. Looking back, it's no wonder that Alex Kidd never caught on. Besides the fact that monkey boys in red jumpsuits are totally uncool, all of his games were archaic 2D jump-and-punch romps that, from the very moment they were released, were already two years behind the day's crop of kiddy action games in terms of fun and charm. Alex's last hurrah was Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, which was originally published in 1989 for the Sega Genesis and is now available for play through the Wii's Virtual Console service. Tragically, the game isn't much of a hurrah, since its most memorable traits are the clunky controls and the rock-paper-scissors minigame.