Alex Kidd proved to be a hit on the Sega Master System throughout the eighties, and was arguably the console’s mascot. The question was, could he continue to be their main draw for Sega’s latest console, the Mega Drive? Clearly not, as this was his only outing on the 16-bit console.
Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle is a single-player platform game developed and published by Sega. It was released for the Mega Drive in Japan in 1989, Europe in 1990, and the US in 1991. It was later released on the Wii Virtual Console, Mega Drive Handheld, Cloud Online, and Steam. I chose to review the original Mega Drive version.
On the planet Aries, Alex Kidd’s father, King Thor, has been kidnapped by Ashra, the ruler of planet Paperrock. Alex travels to Paperrock in a bid to rescue his father. He must navigate through 11 stages:
1. Rookie Town
2. The Prairie
3. The Splashy Sea
4. Scorpion Desert
5. The Pyramid
6. The Hiho Forest
7. Tropics Town
8. Rocky Mountain #1
9. Rocky Mountain #2
10. In the Sky
11. Sky Castle
The gameplay is simple: Run, jump, punch, kick, crawl and swim. When breaking into red treasure chests, coins will spill out for Alex to collect. Grey treasure chests contain lives and power-ups. Beware, however, as some chests, some contain bombs that explode and will kill Alex.
Along the way, Alex can pay to compete in Janken fights (paper, scissor and rock) with shopkeepers to win equipment and power-ups. These include motorcycles, helicopters, a pogo stick, a wizard’s cane, a cape, and a necklace that helps Alex to see the thoughts of his opponent. This item gives you a better chance at winning Janken. At the end of every level, Alex must collect a piece of cake to progress.
The power bracelet is very useful and allows alex to shoot a crescent-shaped band of light that kills the baddies.
You need to have the power bracelet equipped after beating Ashra at Janken so that you can fire at him from a distance. This is the only way to defeat him.
How Does It Handle?
The physics of the game take a bit of getting used to. Alex will slide around a bit when quickly changing direction, and is a bit floaty when jumping, which takes a bit of getting used to, so be careful near enemies.
Graphically, the Mega Drive is capable of so much more. The sprites are nicely drawn, if a little cutsie, suggesting this game was meant for a younger audience. Sadly, the levels and backgrounds are rather basic.
The music, however, is very catchy and will get stuck in your head. When revisiting this game after 20 odd years, I still remembered the tunes instantly and began to hum along.
There are three difficulty settings: easy, medium and hard. With increased difficulty, you are given less lives to start with and the Janken opponents are harder to defeat, adding to the game’s replay value.
Did I Complete The Game?
Yes, but I have only played through on easy mode.
What The Critics Said:
Mean Machines Sega: “The graphics and sound are almost Master System Standard, and while it’s fun to play, with plenty of secret rooms and things to work out, it lacks that really addictive spark that makes the 8-bit Sega Alex Kidd games so much fun to play. For ardent Alex Kidd fans only. Overall 68%”
Sega Pro: “Alex’s only appearance on the Mega Drive is not a bad attempt…although it can get repetitive. Overall 77%”.
The Games Machine: “It goes without saying that Alex Kidd highly playable and incredibly addictive. Overall 82%”.
Sega Power: “Alex goes 16-bit in this colourful platform exploration romp. As with previous Alex Kidd games, the jolly atmosphere belies the testing gameplay. Fun and very polished. Overall 3/5”.
“Definitely one for the younger gamer. It can be completed very easily without too much hassle, but there is little to keep you coming back for more. Catchy music, nice sprites and bright colours, but the level design and backgrounds are a bit basic and could be more visually pleasing. However, I do have a softspot for this game and feel it’s been harshly judged by critics. I certainly keep it in my collection and revisit it every year or so. It’s also handy to keep around for my niblings.”
What are your memories of Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
 ‘Game Index: Mega Drive – Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle’. Mean Machines Sega. (October 1992). Issue 1:137.
 ‘Sega Showdown – Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle.’ Sega Pro. (November 1991). Issue 1:18.
 ‘Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle’. The Games Machine. (June 1989). Issue 19:18-9.
 Jarrett, S., ‘The Hard Line – Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle’. Sega Power. (April 1991). Issue 23:52.