|A massive sign blocks the only way in to Adventure Island|
Format: Super Nintendo
Developer: Hudson Soft
Year Released: 1992
Also released on: Nothing
Now available on: Wii Virtual Console (800 points)
It's 2014 and the new generation of console gaming is finally with us. Once again, the three main contenders - Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo - have put forward their offerings for this latest bout. It's still very early days, way too early to predict a victor. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both appear to have got off to great starts and seem to be pretty much neck and neck, while the Wii U, even with the advantage of a year's head start, seems to be wandering around aimlessly like somebody's drunk uncle, not sure of its place or purpose, hoping that somebody will figure out that it is a brand new console and not just a variation of the original Wii.
New technology brings new capabilities, and this will undoubtedly mean that games become more realistic. This isn't just in terms of graphics, gameplay environments, physics and suchlike. Oh no. Developers are adding more depth to the characters in their games, giving them multi-faceted personalities and a greater variety of traits. They want gamers to become more emotionally involved in games, immersing themselves in the world of the characters that they are controlling - characters with human-like flaws, complexities, prejudices, their own set of morals - good or bad. The characters may not always be likeable, but as they possess more real personalities, gamers are likely to be able to empathise with them and understand how and why they behave in the way that they do.
|Master Higgins is toast if he doesn't make these jumps|
|Worst date ever....|
|Wonder Boy - Adventure Island's spiritual ancestor|
|Throwing an axe at an innocent looking snail in Wonder Boy (arcade version)|
Despite their shared beginnings, Wonder Boy and Adventure Island went on to become two independent franchises - kind of. Whereas subsequent Wonder Boy games contained more role-playing elements, Adventure Island's sequels mostly kept to the arcade platform style of the original. Wonder Boy was first followed by Wonder Boy: Monster Land in the arcade in 1987, which like its prequel received conversions for home computer and consoles aplenty, mostly under the name Wonder Boy in Monster Land, sometimes with a Super at the beginning of it. In Japan, the Master System conversion was named Wonder Boy: Monster World and was the beginning of the Monster World franchise. As with the NES conversion of Wonder Boy, Hudson Soft's conversion of Wonder Boy in Monster Land, this time for the PC Engine, featured different characters and a different name, becoming Bikkuriman World with characters based on those in a Japanese anime. To confuse things further, Hudson Soft's mobile phone port of Wonder Boy in Monster Land in 2005 was called Super Adventure Island, not to be confused with the SNES game with the same name that I'm meant to be reviewing here. I'll get there eventually.
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair was the third and final Wonder Boy arcade game, appearing in 1988. It was converted for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1990 and PC Engine/TurboGrafx in 1988. Hudson Soft handled the PC Engine conversion and this time tampered with the name by just calling it Monster Lair. In Japan, a Master System sequel to Wonder Boy: Monster World (the one known elsewhere as Wonder Boy in Monster Land) was developed. It was to be known as Monster World II: Dragon's Trap. However, as the Master System had been dropped in Japan, the game didn't get a release over there until it later appeared on the Game Gear in 1992. But, over in Europe, where the Master System was still a big seller, the game did get released in 1989 under the title Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. It really is one of the Master System's greatest games. Hudson Soft, once again, had their mitts on rights to this game, releasing it on the PC Engine as, um, Adventure Island. Gah! In the US for the Turbografx, it became Dragon's Curse.
After two different Wonder Boy III games, Wonder Boy's fifth appearance was on the Mega Drive, where, in 1991, he appeared in Wonder Boy in Monster World in the USA and Europe, and Wonder Boy V: Monster World III in Japan. The game also appeared on the Turbografx-CD as The Dynastic Hero. The game was also released on the Master System in Europe in 1993, keeping the name Wonder Boy in Monster World. The final game in the Wonder Boy/Monster World series was Monster World IV, a Mega Drive exclusive released only in Japan in 1994. The Wonder Boy name had been dropped from the title, and the game's main character was a girl. Monster World IV finally made it to Western shores in 2012, appearing on the Wii's Virtual Console service. Since its appearance there in 2012, no more Mega Drive games have been released on the Virtual Console.
So, that was Wonder Boy. I have a headache now. Fortunately, Adventure Island's history is slightly less complex, especially if we ignore the fact that some conversions of Wonder Boy sequels had Adventure Island in the titles. A couple of sequels followed Adventure Island on the NES, namely Adventure Island II and Adventure Island III. A fourth game appeared in Japan for the Famicom, apparently the last official Japanese Famicom game to be released. Two Adventure Island games appeared on the Gameboy, Adventure Island and Adventure Island II. Adventure Island was based on Adventure Island II for the NES, and Adventure Island II was based on the NES game Adventure Island III. Super Adventure Island and Super Adventure Island II appeared on the SNES. Super Adventure Island was released on the SNES after Adventure Island II on the NES so is the third home console Adventure Island game. The fourth was New Adventure Island for the PC Engine/Turbografx. Super Adventure Island II on the SNES went down the role playing adventuring route of the Wonder Boy sequels. This was Master Higgins' final console appearance until he returned in Adventure Island: The Beginning for the Wii in 2009. Coincidentally, I returned to the holiday park of my childhood in 2009 too. And this kind of brings my whole point about empathising with Master Higgins full circle and concludes my quick but possibly inaccurate summary of the Wonder Boy/Monster World/Adventure Island series.
One of the best things about the Wonder Boy and Adventure Island games is that many of them are still available to play on several of the latest consoles. Pretty much all of the Wonder Boy games are available on the Wii Virtual Console, along with the Adventure Island games, while some of the Wonder Boy games make appearances on the Xbox and PlayStation online services.
|Totally rad skateboarding skillz here dude|
|Here's the reason why sealions shouldn't hold their breath.|
|Climbing a tree covered by snails. Nasty things snails.|
Totally destroyed my strawberry plant last year.
|An end of level baddie with a light saber. Or glow stick.|
|It's gone mighty chilly on Adventure Island, and Master|
Higgins has only packed his grass pants.
|Special stage a go-go!|
|Inside the belly of a beast. Looks like he's been eating |
pinepple and kiwi, and eels.
|The obligitory mine cart level.|
|Meeting a foe in the forest.|
|After years in the spotlight, Dumbo turned to a life of drugs and drink and general rebellious activity. Here he is at |
a particularly difficult stage in his life.
A title screen and animated introduction are all there really is presentation-wise, but this feels right for the game. Less is more as they say.
Although they don't push the SNES's abilities too much, the game features large colourful sprites and a great variety of graphics which represent each level's theme well, although the graphic designer's efforts are a little wasted as you don't get chance to look at them for very long.
A selection of funky tunes plays throughout the game and add some coolness to the game.
The game feels a bit clunky at first, especially if you're used to controlling the main character in the original Adventure Island/Wonder Boy, but once you're used to it, it becomes quite an enjoyable game to play.
A true arcade-style platform game. Not the greatest SNES game, and probably a bit too linear and short to retain your attention, but most definitely worth a look.
Super Adventure Island playthrough on YouTube
Oh yes, not only have I spent forever trying to write this review, I've also played the game through, recorded it and uploaded it to YouTube. Enjoy!