Adventure Island III
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developer:
    • Now Production
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    NES
    • JP 07/31/1992
    • US September 1992
    GB
    • JP 02/26/1993
    • US February 1993
Score: 70%

This review was published on 04/09/2018.

Adventure Island III is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Now Production and published by Hudson Soft for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy. The NES version was originally released in Japan on July 31, 1992, and North America in September 1992. Renamed Adventure Island II: Aliens in Paradise outside of Japan, the Game Boy version was initially released in Japan on February 26, 1993, and North America in February 1993. Contrary to the title of the NES version, this is actually the fifth game in the Adventure Island series. The first two games, Adventure Island and Adventure Island II, came out on the NES, but there were two other games released after that prior to Adventure Island III. These were Super Adventure Island for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and New Adventure Island for the TurboGrafx-16, both of which released earlier in 1992. Despite being released for beefier 16-bit hardware, Super Adventure Island and New Adventure Island were disappointing when compared to Adventure Island II, because those games removed some cool features. However, Adventure Island III brings back those cool features, making it a return to form for the series.

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A short clip on the title screen tells you all you need to know about the story of Adventure Island III. Master Higgins, the portly islander who is the hero of the whole series, is relaxing with the love of his life, Tina. Most materials outside of Japan refer to Tina as Jeannie Jungle, but that's incorrect. Anyway, the two lovebirds were sitting under a tree together, when a UFO suddenly flew in and abducted Tina! Apparently, space aliens are behind the abduction, but their motives are unknown. Assuming the worst, Master Higgins prepares himself for another island adventure. There are eight dangerous islands Higgins must venture through, and each one is guarded by an enormous creature that wants nothing more than to feast upon human flesh. Having done this many times before, Higgins is no stranger to danger, but this is the first time he's had to deal with aliens.

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Higgins is under your control in Adventure Island III. The controls are basically the same as they were in Adventure Island II: the d-pad is for moving, the A button is for jumping, the B button is for attacking, and holding the B button during movement makes you go faster. However, Higgins is now capable of ducking, which is an ability he didn't have in Adventure Island II, but did have in Super Adventure Island. Strangely, the ability to crouch was absent from New Adventure Island. As usual, Higgins dies if his decreasing energy meter is fully depleted, so he has to continuously collect food to stay alive. The eggplants must still be avoided, though, because they deplete the meter even faster. Most hazards and enemies still kill Higgins in one hit, but there are some power-ups that allow him to take additional hits. You should read the next paragraph for more information on that.

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Like a good chunk of the series, most power-ups are found within eggs that you break by either attacking or walking into them. The skateboard is in almost every Adventure Island game and it's here, too. It does the same thing as usual, giving Higgins an extra hit and enhancing his speed, but doing so at the cost of relinquishing control of his movements. Naturally, there are also a few power-ups that arm Higgins with weapons, such as the throwing axes he can get in every game in the series, and the boomerangs that first appeared in Super Adventure Island. Adventure Island III does introduce a few power-ups of its own, though. These include a clock power-up that temporarily freezes everything on the screen, including your energy meter, and a crystal that lets Higgins take an additional hit on top of whatever protection he already has. If he has a crystal and skateboard at the same time, he'll be able to take a total of two hits without dying! It's pretty great.

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Introduced in Adventure Island II, but absent in Super Adventure Island and New Adventure Island, the dinosaurs you can ride finally return in Adventure Island III. Like power-ups, they hatch out of eggs and provide Higgins with an extra hit on top of other varied benefits. These dinosaurs include a blue camptosaurus that has good traction on ice, a red camptosaurus that breathes fire and walks on lava, a pteranodon that flies, and an elasmosaurus that swims real fast. All of these dinosaurs are from Adventure Island II, but Adventure Island III does introduce a single new dinosaur in the form of a triceratops that's able to roll into a ball to attack enemies. Along with the aforementioned stone axes, boomerangs, and crystals, the dinosaurs can be stored in an inventory screen that's accessible prior to each stage. This allows you to store them for later use, preventing you from wasting them on something stupid. At any rate, riding dinosaurs is dynamite, so their return is a very good thing.

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Unlike Adventure Island II, the stage progression is no longer randomized, and bosses don't move to adjacent stages if you die to them. There are also hidden rooms, which may lead to extra power-ups, a surfing bonus game, or even to alternate stages. Additionally, you can now fight bosses whilst riding a dinosaur, which you couldn't do in Adventure Island II. While the Game Boy version is basically the same but with no color and a smaller resolution, it does feature a password system and an interactive overworld map that allows you to revisit stages. This is all good, but Adventure Island III suffers from the same problem that plagues its predecessors, and that's dull level design. The stages are still too flat and the bosses are too plain. If it weren't for the cool dinosaurs and power-ups, this game would have nothing going for it.

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A slight improvement over Adventure Island II, Adventure Island III is a reasonably solid title for the NES. The only overtly bad thing about this game is that it's far too similar to Adventure Island II. It's to the extent that the two are almost interchangeable. Regardless, the series doesn't hit its peak until the next two games, Adventure Island IV and Super Adventure Island II, the latter of which is fairly well known. It's not a masterpiece, but Adventure Island III may be worth checking out if you like adventures, islands, or a combination thereof.

Word Count: 1,093

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