Adventure Island – Nintendo Entertainment System
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Developer: Escape/Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Release Date: September, 1988
Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10
Reviewed by: bbpower
Adventure Island takes me back to the 90s when movie and game rental shops were the first stop coming into the weekend. I cannot tell you how many times my brothers and me rented this game before buying it. Adventure Island is the first installment of a fantastic and unique series released for the NES. Buckle down for the long haul, because this game is long and will upset you! I challenge anyone to get though this entire game without getting pissed! The original idea was doctored from an arcade game called, Wonder Boy, by the wonderful people at SEGA and Escape in 1986, but released in the Americas in 1988. Now, lets meet our portly hero in this series.
Master Higgins is the lovable islander you command in this fast-paced platforming game. He is in search of his beloved princess, Leilani, who was abducted by the Evil Witch Doctor and taken to a chain of South Pacific islands. Master Higgins must travel to these treacherous islands to save his girlfriend.
In his search for Leilani, Master Higgins must endure 32 levels separated into eight areas. Those eight areas are further divided into four checkpoints and at the end of each 4th checkpoint a boss awaits to drop you dead. Game seems long, doesn’t it? Well, the levels are not the only problem in Higgins way.
Evil Witch Doctor minions are scattered throughout the levels hindering you from the gorgeous Princess Leilani’s lips and beckoning hips. There are evil snakes, snails, birds, falling coconuts, and other creatures ready to kill you with just a single touch! Also, there are fires to leap over and cliffs to avoid making this game tough! Unfortunately, this is not the end of Higgins’s burdens. Health in this game is different than most and is the most challenging part of the game. It’s borderline annoying and can sometimes make the game not enjoyable when there is plenty of stuff around to nab.
Fruit is scattered throughout each level, which Master Higgins needs to replenish his constantly depleting health points. Health in this game is exhausted based upon time and ability to jump. When Higgins moves, runs in place, or trips over a rock, he loses health. A constant string of fruit keeps him full and health points high. Take too long on any particular level and your health points will run out and you die. Keep running, or you are a dead chubby islander. Sounds pretty bogus, right?
Seems like Master Higgins has it pretty rough. Luckily for our little island dude, he has help on his quest to save his island damsel. Along with stone axes to chuck, and a wicked skateboard, there are four types of dinosaurs to help aid in his trek to success, each one with a specialty to aid in battle. They can be found in white eggs spread about the levels. Be careful of the skateboard though, it makes for a fast, but an annoying ride, because you cannot stop while riding! This bugged the crap out of me. I HATE the skateboard! When you get hit by an enemy while riding the skateboard, or dinosaur, they disappear. This is also the only way off a skateboard, or dinosaur. Dinos are very handy and it’s suggested you find and keep them for as long as possible.
Also, there are tasty milk jugs scattered about to replenish health to full and give you 1000 points. Every so often, Higgins will stumble upon a Honey Girl (a bee) in an egg and grants our hero invincibility for fifteen seconds and will kill anything by running through them. So, run like you just got caught TP-ing a house until the music ends and the Honey Girl flutters away!
Along with dinosaur eggs visible, there are hidden eggs on most levels. Most of these eggs are in a cloud that lifts you into bonus stages where you can get fruit to gain more points. You find these hidden bonuses by throwing stone axes randomly and listening for a weird noise where the axes disappear. I found that points are important and lives are sparse, so don’t miss a chance to get them, or you will have game over before you know it! In my opinion, lives are almost too hard to get in this game for the difficulty level.
The boss at each mile marker is a different form of the Evil Witch Doctor. The forms grow in difficulty at each step and take more hits to defeat. Knock off all the levels and the Evil Witch Doctor to save Princess Leilani and live happy ever after!
There is not a lot to bash on with this game, except there is such small margin for error. Also, it’s very tough to get extra lives later in the game when player’s points are high. I love the fast paced game play and the dinosaurs. This game had a lot of potential, which the future installments nailed. Still, this first game to the series will keep gamers busy for hours and it does not become boring over time.
I give Adventure Island a Nerd Rating of 6 out of 10. Yes, I like and have a copy of it on my shelf. It is a great collector piece for any NES enthusiast, but it is a tough game and there are some small questionable glitches here and there, but they don’t make the game unbeatable. Everyone should partake on this tropical adventure at least once and it is worth noting this first installment is the beginning of a fun series of NES games. Don’t skip on Adventure Island at any game shop, or garage sale. With a little time, you can handle this bargain buy, costing you less than a lunch date! Be sure to catch Adventure Island II and III as well. Game on!
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