"As you fight through the Hudson-trademark, vibrant, ultra-colourful scenarios, youíll encounter fuchsia snails, yellow cobras, purple frogs, and green clovers. Alright, the clovers bit was just to see if you were paying attention. Deadly, unattended campfires, skulls surrounded by flames, and the mainstay of the Adventure Island enemy roster - the invisible web-climbing spiders, will all chime in to make life difficult for you. "
Everything old is new again
If youíve played one of the many Adventure Island games, youíve played them all (well, except the SNES versions; more on those later). The story never seems to change - Master Higgins loses his girl again, and once more he must venture forth into the shadowy unknown to save her chubby hide.
In this New Adventure, the portly baseball cap-wearing, skateboard-riding protagonist returns as the unlikeliest of heroes, traversing bright green hills and plains; dark spooky caverns; rocky ground where lava flows freely; and purple castles where bosses dwell. Each of the words is comprised of four stages, and the fourth stage invariably houses the big, bad end-of-level boss. On the playing field, different flags indicate your progress. A pointing finger marks the beginning of a stage, the Hudson Bee marks the halfway or continue point, and a hand-formed peace sign tells us the end is at hand.
To prevent the end of Higgins' life from being at hand, giant cherries, bananas, watermelons, grapes, and apples must be seized at every opportunity. Because yes, this is one of those games where the passage of time alone will lower your vitality (so will bumping into rocks). Luckily, ripe fruit is quite abundant. But cut short that sigh of relief! Though this might make you choke, it's important that you recognize that even when your vitality is kept up to avoid gradual death by passing time or immovable rock, everything else will kill you instantly. Fortunately, Higgins understands that his best defense is a strong offense.
Find arrows, boomerangs, and of course, axes. And then there is the elusive, hidden fireball weapon, concealed in invisible eggs, discovered only through hearing the 'clunk' sound made when your current weapon impacts the unseen egg. Thrill to the power of the fireball; it can take out rocks and wayward boulders alike. You'll also be pleased to know that eggs aren't always invisible. The white ones bear skateboards for amazing speed and control (riding one also allows you to take an extra hit before dying), as well as guardian fairies who grant you temporary invincibility. Now then. Seeing as you're properly equipped (and no longer choking, hopefully), gather some courage and begin thrashing island creatures.
As you fight through the Hudson-trademark, vibrant, ultra-colourful scenarios, youíll encounter fuchsia snails, yellow cobras, purple frogs, and green clovers. Alright, the clovers bit was just to see if you were paying attention. Deadly, unattended campfires, skulls surrounded by flames, and the mainstay of the Adventure Island enemy roster - the invisible web-climbing spiders, will all chime in to make life difficult for you.
But it doesnít end there! Dive-bombing toucans and waddling pink pigs are also part of the island populace. While most of the aforementioned cobras just get in the way, others spit flames! To make matters worse, the place is teeming with troublesome toads. When the frogs are green, theyíre nothing more than obstinate obstacles. But shoot them once and turn them purple, and theyíll lunge at you quite violently. Things get really interesting when you confront frogs that are innately purple, even before you arrive, and as such, are already poised to spring by they time you chance upon them. Look out!
Sometimes youíll see a strange flower on the ground at your feet. Once you pass it, expect a fast-moving rodent (no, itís not Sonic) to attack from behind you. Avoiding his rearward assault is one thing, but managing to kill him earns you a Turbo Duo control pad icon, and big points. And speaking of garnering big points, thatís exactly whatís at stake - well, besides your life - when you enter the fourth stage castle environment of any given world. The bosses' giant, anthropoid bodies are robed regally and this never changes from boss to boss; only their heads vary. (Itís always a different animal head; the first is a tiger, and so on.)
New Adventure Island offers nothing new to the genre, and indeed, nothing new even to the series. In fact, although the shiny luster of the graphics are a very noticeable step above the visuals presented in the NES installments, the music actually suffers. Itís unkind to the ears, led by exceptionally tinny percussion. Truly, for evidence of the series actually taking a marked step up in depth and overall quality, check out Super Adventure Island 1 and 2, both for the SNES.
Still, the rest of the games belonging to the franchise, while not groundbreaking, have an established charm and a draw that fans canít resist. The phenomenon is much like the Mega Man appeal. Where originality and depth is lacking, mindless, reactive platformer fun is abundant. In some ways, the experience epitomizes 'twitch' gaming. Play any one Adventure Island game (it may as well be this one), to learn the mechanics, and with good timing and dexterity, see your way through that game, and any others you come across without a great deal of trouble.
I once remarked to friends that New Adventure Island was my favourite 'phone game.' You know - a game you can play without getting too worked up, so that you can pass time comfortably while your blabbermouth friend sounds off on the other end of the line. Itís shallow enough for you to concentrate on the blustererís words, yet engaging enough to make the torturous bout of venting pass enjoyably. We all thought that the telephone distinction spoke volumes.
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 29, 2003)
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