Super Adventure Island Review
Super Adventure Island was first released in 1992 and is now on the Virtual Console. Developed by Hudson Soft, Super Adventure Island is a continuation of the series, which follows its lovable hero, Master Higgins. The adventure begins with Master Higgins and Tina hanging out and enjoying life. Moments later, an evil sorcerer appears and turns his girlfriend, Tina, into a stone statue. Motivated by love, Master Higgins sets off to save Tina from the clutches of evil, and to reverse the spell’s effect. A feat he accomplishes without wearing a shirt.
Gameplay wise, Super Adventure Island is very much like its predecessors. Adventure Island games – up to this point – have been simple platformers in which the main objective is to find the end level goal while avoiding, and killing enemies. Super Adventure Island also retains one hit deaths and its famous – and sometimes frustrating – diminishing timer mechanic. Once this bar is empty you will die; however, you can add time back on by collecting fruits.
All of the elements from the original titles are here, except for one of my favorites: Master Higgins is no longer able to ride dinosaurs. I realize that this feature isn’t present in the first game, but this was an element that I thoroughly enjoyed; however, Master Higgins can upgrade his basic weaponry this time. Tomahawks and boomerangs will be your main sources of attack, and after collecting multiple tomahawks (or boomerangs), you will be given an extra to throw at the enemy. After collecting four of the same item, you will acquire a powered up version of said weapon. At this stage, the weapon takes on a fireball-like appearance and does much more damage. Fully powered up weapons make boss fights a complete joke.
There are five worlds in Super Adventure Island, each consisting of three stages a piece. Stage themes range from a jungle setting, to the belly of a whale and more. Also, at the end of each world you must fight a boss. Level design varies greatly and offers much more than just scrolling to the right. Some levels have you swimming inside the belly of a whale, another sees you climbing a large tree, plus, there’s even a mine cart level. All of this variety will no doubt fulfill your platforming desires. Its challenge, however, isn’t in the variety, but in the actual level design itself.
Levels are built to challenge your platforming skills and this is evident with the placements of enemies and bottomless pits. Enemies are placed to stall your progress, which forces you to take them down; otherwise you will fall to a one hit death. Pits on the other hand will test your jumping skills.
Master Higgins uses three different jumping techniques with one of them being a basic jump. Jumping higher can be done by pressing jump while moving. Lastly, Master Higgins can also utilize a super jump. To perform the super jump you need to duck then press the jump button; it is important that you master this jump as it will save you many lives. Also, making the levels challenging is the way that Master Higgins handles. He has a heavy feeling, which makes accuracy very important to your survival. More than a few deaths happened because of this heavy feeling, which forces you to compensate with precise timing of your jumps. It can be frustrating because even if you’re sure you landed the jump, the game may disagree. If his movement was tightened, the game would be easier and more enjoyable to play.
Graphically, Super Adventure Island is superior to the NES titles. Sprites are extremely detailed, colorful, and well-animated. In fact, the entire game takes advantage of Super Nintendo’s graphical capabilities by creating a ton of awesome looking environments, and huge bosses. The levels have colorful, detailed backgrounds and in some cases are even animated.
Mode 7 is also used, albeit sparingly. Its uses are effective because of this; you will first encounter Mode 7 as Master Higgins falls from the sky before the first level, and it looks pretty darn cool. On another note, I personally don’t dig the soundtrack for Super Adventure Island. Technically speaking, the music is superior to earlier games in the series, but ultimately, I felt that it didn’t carry the same spirit of the NES Adventure Island games.
3/5 D-Pads: Overall, fans of the Adventure Island series will really enjoy this journey with Master Higgins. It brings forth everything you love about the series to the Super Nintendo, including secret bonus stages and the skateboard. One hit deaths and well-designed stages will keep you involved, even if it is a tad challenging. Now that the game is on the Virtual Console, I recommend that Adventure Island fans check it out for only 800 points. Fans of platformers may also be interested, that is, if they are up for the challenge.