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Adventure Island II Review

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Developer: Hudson Soft Publisher: Hudson Soft
Release Date: 1990 Also On: Game Boy

After what was a generally average platformer nearly stolen from Sega, Hudson Soft took the idea of the ‘cave boy’ image further. Whereas Sega went on to create a series with RPG elements that would rival the intensity and excitement of the Zelda games, on the NES it remained a platformer, though in Japan it would see a fourth release that had elements more similar to an RPG. Regardless, sequels tend to be pretty tame in comparison to the original, but this is one case where the opposite is true and it only seems to get better. Adventure Island II is without a doubt one of those titles every gamer should check out.

Graphically, a lot has been improved on since the first game. Master Higgins is more defined and detailed, as well as the enemies and backgrounds. Overall, they applied a more cartoony appearance with a much better color scheme that’s ten times more vibrant than its predecessor. Each island has its own theme, so they eliminated the redunancy as well, though enemies and obstacles are repeated. You have ice stages, volcano stages and so forth. I had no problems at all with this category, great presentation, great design elements, great detail, it all fits together quite well.

As for the sound, Adventure Island II takes what the first game provided and updates on it with tons of new themes and effects. Most of the effects are relatively similar to the first game, just updated to fit the new look, providing a great atmosphere to go along with the design. They’ve really come a long way since the first game and it truly shows. Again, no problems at all in this category, I found it excellent as a whole and very catchy.

Adventure Island II is relatively the same type of game presented in Adventure Island, just majorly updated. It’s good to have a title where you can essentially assume that you’ll be playing the game in about the same way as you did before, just with more to do. You have the same weapons, the same controls (which seem way more responsive and accurate this time around), and tons of new additions. One of the big ones is the ability to pick up one of four dinosaur pals with various abilities. You have a red one that shoots fireballs and can enter lava without taking damage and a pterodactyl that can fly. Not only did they add this bit, but you can also save them in an inventory that you access before each level, so you can save up dinosaurs to use them when you want, as well as extra stone axes. The game consists of eight islands, seven smaller ones and one large one, each with their own theme and feel. At the end of every island you face a large boss.

So with all the additions and the completely updated gameplay, Adventure Island II really plays well. The difficulty has been stepped down a tad, but is pretty much on par with what you found in the first game, just way more workable. In addition, the programmers included the ability to continue without finding some mysterious token as well as a level select code in the manual you can use to start at a level you left before so you don’t have to run through everything again. Overall, I had a ton of fun with this game, the only real gripe I could think of is that the bosses are generally way too easy. Two will give you some trouble, but the majority of them are giant creatures like a crab or something that shoot the same shots. Just dodge the shots, attack them wherever they appear and keep going. Only one of the earlier bosses and the final boss really pose a challenge, but the stages make up for that, especially on the final island where the last stage is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever played. Just a great game overall, no real problems.

As for creativity, though the original idea was pretty much stolen, Hudson has gone quite a distance from then with a ton of updating, so much so that they really put this game on the map as something in itself and not just a Wonder Boy clone. The dinosaurs, the inventory, tons of hidden secrets, you name it they added it. High marks again.

And for another win, Adventure Island II has without a doubt some of the best replay value I’ve ever seen. I sat down to finish it for over a week and looked forward to getting further, made all the more relaxing with the level select code. As for game length, perfect. It’s a pretty long game, so if you want to play through you have roughly 8 hours of play ahead of you, but with the code you don’t have to, you can play a few rounds, come back to it later, beat an island, come back to the next one and so forth. They really shot for gold here and got it.

Adventure Island II was a pretty popular game when it came out but sadly not many people seem to remember it or even have heard of the series, which strikes me as strange when I play something as good as this. Even if you’re not a retro gamer or a fan of the NES, I strongly recommend you pick this game up at least once and give it a go, it’s a great example of perfection in programming and design, as well as play. You’ll have a lot of fun and I can say without a doubt you’ll be glad you tried it.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.7
Written by Stan Review Guide