Super Adventure Island
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • Produce
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    • JP 01/11/1992
    • US April 1992
    • UK 11/19/1992
Score: 65%

This review was published on 04/07/2018.

Super Adventure Island is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Produce and published by Hudson Soft for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was originally released in Japan on January 11, 1992, North America in April 1992, and Europe on November 19, 1992. This is the first Adventure Island game released for 16-bit hardware, as all the previous ones were on 8-bit platforms. While not clearly indicated in its title, this is the third game in the Adventure Island series, following Adventure Island and Adventure Island II, both of which released for the NES and a few other platforms. Along with New Adventure Island, which came out a little later for the TurboGrafx-16, Super Adventure Island was released in the gap between Adventure Island II and Adventure Island III. Despite being on superior hardware, Super Adventure Island is a downgrade from Adventure Island II in just about everything. The only thing this game has over Adventure Island II is better graphics.

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Adventure Island is a mysterious and beautiful island that contains as many dangers as it does wonders. As a hero of the island, Master Higgins protects the inhabitants from the countless deadly creatures. He has restored peace to the uncharted island on many occasions, and even earned the love of the lovely Tina, who is erroneously referred to as either Jeanie Jungle or Jeannie Jungle in most English materials. Basically, Master Higgins is like a fatter Tarzan. However, something terrible has happened. While Master Higgins and Tina were stargazing atop a tall tree, a dangerous entity known only as Dark Cloak appeared out of nowhere and turned Tina to stone. Master Higgins must now venture towards Dark Cloak's castle at the foot of the mountain to undo the curse on his precious Tina! Jeez, Tina is always getting into trouble. Maybe it's about time Higgins gets himself a new girlfriend.

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Higgins is the guy you'll be controlling in Super Adventure Island. He moves left or right if you press those directions on the d-pad, jumps if you press the B or X button, and attacks if you press the Y or A button. Unlike the previous games, holding the attack button doesn't make you move faster or jump higher. On the flipside, it's now possible to duck by holding down on the d-pad. Another new thing Higgins can do in this game is the Super Jump, which is executed by pressing the jump button while ducking. It's similar in concept to the Super Jump from Super Mario Bros. 2, except there's no charge time. Aside from those additions, the controls are somewhat worse than Adventure Island II. The omission of a run button is one of the main reasons for this, as Higgins' light jog is a bit too slow in this game. Further, his movements are a little more slippery than usual.

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Like most of the series, Super Adventure Island has an energy meter at the top of the screen. The meter automatically drains by itself, and it depletes even faster if Higgins trips over rocks. If it completely empties, Higgins will run out of gas and die. To prevent such a tragedy, you must collect food to refill varying amounts of the meter. Different foods restore different amounts of the meter. Most of the foods you'll encounter are of the fruit and vegetable variety, but you'll occasionally find milk, which fully replenishes the energy meter. Unfortunately, just about everything in the game kills Higgins in one hit when he's without a power-up, regardless of the meter. Because of that, the meter is more of a glorified timer than a life bar. Super Adventure Island doesn't evolve this mechanic in any way, but it also doesn't make it any worse.

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As is typically the case, Higgins starts each life unarmed, but is able to arm himself with stone axes through the use of a power-up. The annoying skateboard power-up also returns, and it still forces you into perpetual motion in exchange for extra speed and an extra hit. However, power-ups are no longer found inside eggs; they're now just lying around. Disappointingly, all of the delightful dinosaurs you could ride in Adventure Island II are totally absent here. Instead, this game introduces a new weapon power-up to the series in the form of the boomerang. Whereas Higgins throws stone axes in an arc, he's able to throw boomerangs straight and they come back to him. Not only that, but boomerangs can also be thrown upwards or downwards, the latter of which is only possible whilst jumping. Collecting more of the same weapon power-up enables you to toss more weapons out at the time, and they become fiery when fully upgraded. The boomerang is a nice addition, but it doesn't make up for the dinosaur omission.

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The stage design is a bit better than previous games, because assets don't get recycled quite as much, and there's more variety. For example, besides the usual jungles, forests, caves, deserts, and snowfields, this game also has you swim inside the belly of a whale, ride mine carts in a mine, and search through a dark castle with obscured vision. Bosses are a tad better than usual, too; there's an ancient statue that summons ghosts to attack you, an octopus with a big tentacle, a serpentine dragon that slithers through the air, and a skeletal warrior that wields a lightsaber. However, if you die against a boss, you'll have to redo the whole stage that precedes it. While there are four stages per world as per usual, the quantity of worlds has been reduced to five from the typical eight. It's actually closer to three stages per world, as the fourth stage solely consists of a boss battle. That's honestly a good thing, because these games tend to be a bit too long for what they are.

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Besides decent graphics, Super Adventure Island doesn't have much going for it. Without the adorable dinosaur buddies to ride on, Adventure Island is just another bland platformer. While the stages and bosses aren't too bad, they're also far from exemplary. The slippery controls and slow movement speed also make it hard to enjoy the game's finer points. It's still not a bad game, but Super Adventure Island is a little too average.

Word Count: 1,056

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