When I reviewed Adventure Island over two years ago, I noted its influence and many similarities to the original Super Mario Bros. With Adventure Island II, Hudson has clearly borrowed many ideas from our favorite game last year, Super Mario Bros. 3. Much like the massive improvement from the first to third Mario games, the Adventure Island series has taken a giant leap forward in quality and fun. After enduring this very cold Minnesota winter, it was welcoming to join Master Higgins in the warm tropical islands.
Once again you play as Master Higgins, this time trying to rescue the Princess’ sister from the Witch Doctor. Rather than the game taking place on a single island, this time there are eight total islands, each with their own themes (desert, ice, lake, cloud…sound familiar?)
Each island has about a dozen different stages. You are moved through these automatically and you don’t play all of them, so each adventure is a little different. At the final stage on each island there will be a boss to defeat. Unlike the first game, each boss is unique and appropriate for the stage’s theme. There are unlimited continues, as this is a pretty long game with the eight different islands. Although there isn’t a battery backup, the manual provides a stage select code, although it is strange they didn’t just include a password.
The gameplay is quite similar to the original, only it controls much smoother. The stages are populated with a variety of villainous creatures, such as snakes, snails, foxes, spiders, and octopi. Your main weapon is once again the stone axe that you must hurl at the enemies to kill them. Additionally, there are lots of hazards like pitfalls, spikes, and campfires. The time meter returns, as you have a bar which quickly diminishes. You keep this elevated by collecting fruit. As the game progresses, there is less and less fruit, making the time limit very challenging.
Eggs randomly pop up throughout the various stages. In these you’ll find weapons, the skateboard, and the most thrilling addition to the game: dinosaurs. There are four different kinds of dinos that you can ride. The Red Camptosaurus has a fire attack, whereas the Blue Camptosaurus has a powerful tail attack. The Elasmosaurus is able to swim powerfully in the water stages and of course the Pteranodon allows you to fly above the stages while dropping rocks for an attack. In addition to their speed and powerful attacks, if you take a hit while on the dino (or the skateboard for that matter), you just lose them, rather than your life.
After you complete a stage, you have the option to take them with you to the next level or save your dinosaurs or special items for future use. It is a wise idea to save these for later, more difficult stages.
Adventure Island II looks terrific and has a wonderful island charm to it. It is a very bright and colorful game with a large variety of creatures and many different settings.
There are several different musical themes that play during the levels. Most of these are fast and upbeat, matching the settings. Hudson does a great job with the sound effects as well.
It’s extremely satisfying dispatching creatures with the axe or the dino attacks. The controls are spot-on and all of the dinos control perfectly. While Adventure Island II doesn’t quite measure up to Super Mario Bros. 3, this is probably the very best alternative right now on the NES. This game is addictive, challenging, charming, and so much fun. The only detractor is the lack of a multiplayer option.
Adventure Island II Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Adventure Island II improves so much over the original. The game is much longer, a lot less difficult, and has wonderful audio and visuals. There are lots of secret areas and bonus stages to uncover as well. Having eight large islands to conquer and the addition of the dinosaurs make for a must-own for any age group.
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.