Super Adventure Island II
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • Make
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    • US October 1994
    • JP 01/03/1995
    • UK March 1995
Score: 75%

This review was published on 04/13/2018.

Super Adventure Island II is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Make Software and published by Hudson Soft for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Famicom. It was originally released in North America in October 1994, Japan on January 3, 1995, and Europe in March 1995. This is the second and last Adventure Island game released for the SNES. By this point, the series consisted of countless games released on various platforms. In order of release, those games are Adventure Island, Adventure Island II, Super Adventure Island, New Adventure Island, Adventure Island III, Adventure Island IV, and Super Adventure Island II. The first game in the series was a modified port of the Wonder Boy arcade game by Sega, but all future Adventure Island titles were original works by Hudson. While later Wonder Boy games adopted RPG conventions, the Adventure Island series continued providing the same basic action seen in the first title. That all changed with the release of Adventure Island IV, which took some inspiration from the newer Wonder Boy games. Super Adventure Island II takes that inspiration even further.

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After their glorious wedding in New Adventure Island, Master Higgins and his pretty wife Tina were on their way to a romantic honeymoon aboard a raft. Then, out of nowhere, a tropical cyclone broke through the seas and ripped the newlyweds apart! The two survived the ordeal, but they washed up on different islands and completely lost their memory. Tina came to live on the island of Waku-waku, where she met a good king who wished to marry her. Since she had no memory of her real husband, she agreed to the wedding. However, just as the king was about to slip on the ring, a beastly buzzard swooped down and kidnapped Tina! Higgins happened to be passing by the king's castle during this, so he heard Tina's scream, but didn't recognize her voice due to his amnesia. The king then requests Higgins to find her, and he accepts the mission because he's a good boy.

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You'll be assuming the role of Master Higgins in this game. With the d-pad, you'll be able to make him walk, duck, and climb vertical objects like vines. He can no longer pick up and throw objects like he could in Adventure Island IV, though. Besides being able to jump with the B button and attack with the Y button, you can also bring up a menu screen with the X button like in most SNES RPGs. Like Adventure Island IV, but unlike most other games in the series, there's no constantly draining energy meter that must be refilled by collecting fruits, and you don't usually die in one hit. Rather, your health is represented by hearts and they can be permanently increased via life upgrades that are hidden throughout the game. It's pretty cool, but you don't start out with much health, making the early portions of the game a little rough.

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Like most Wonder Boy games, the world of Super Adventure Island II is vast and somewhat nonlinear. Thankfully, you can pull up a map at any time via the menu screen. The world is generally divided into separate islands and each island has its own map to explore. Similar to Adventure Island IV and most games inspired by Metroid, you explore the game in search of items and weapons that'll unlock the path to new environments. This isn't handled quite as creatively as it was in Adventure Island IV, though, as most items you need to make progress don't have any functions outside of acting as keys to the next location. Also, it can be a little tricky to figure out where to go next, because you're frequently forced to revisit old areas to obtain new items. Sleeping at the inn does trigger dream sequences with hints on your next objective, though. This is also the first game in the series that allows you to save your progress, which is good, because it's a little lengthy.

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All areas of the game are accessed from an interactive world map with an overhead perspective. Filled with islands and caves, the map is mostly comprised of water that Higgins navigates with a raft. On the raft, you're able to move in four directions with the d-pad and go into the menu screen with the X button, but that's about it. However, similar to a real RPG, you'll randomly encounter enemies while navigating the world map. Whenever an enemy encounter occurs, you'll be transported to a small area that's presented in the typical side-scrolling view where you must fend off the foes. You don't actually have to fight them, though; simply moving all the way to the left or right side of the screen will end the random battle and put you back on the world map. There's really not much of a point to these random encounters other than to annoy you. This is one aspect of RPGs that should have been left out of Super Adventure Island II.

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Unlike previous titles, Higgins won't spend the entire game wearing nothing but a cap and a skirt made of leaves. Throughout his adventure, he'll procure gear he can put on in the menu screen to increase his offensive and defensive capabilities. This is where the similarities to Wonder Boy really start to set in. Gear is divided into three main categories; weapons, armor, and shields. Most weapons are swords, but there are a few ranged ones, like the throwing axe and boomerang from previous Adventure Island games. There are also throwing daggers similar to the ones from Ghosts 'n Goblins, a weird fireball barrier, and a shovel that's mostly used for digging. Armor generally increases your defense against elements like fire, ice, and water, whereas shields allow you to block projectiles of a specific element. The only lame thing about gear in this game is that all swords, armors, and shields look the same outside of different color palettes.

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Magic is yet another element that hasn't appeared in any previous Adventure Island games. In order to use magic, you must first obtain the wand, which automatically gives you access to the first spell and some MP. Spells are equipped in the menu and used with the A button, but each one costs a specific amount of MP to cast. Like hearts, there are items hidden throughout the game that permanently increase your maximum MP, and the more of these you have, the more spells you'll have access to. The spells include magic that heals some or all of your health, teleportation magic, a spell that temporarily freezes all of your foes, a spell that briefly makes you invulnerable, and magic that attacks all enemies on the screen. While the attack magic isn't too useful, the healing and teleportation spells are very handy.

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Further fueling the Wonder Boy comparisons is the fact that this the first Adventure Island game to feature a currency system. Money is frequently found from fallen foes, and as mentioned earlier, it can be spent at the inn to fully restore your vitals and provide hints. A few special techniques in the game are also bought with money, such as the ability to push rocks, and an upwards and downwards sword jab similar to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Another use for cash is the casino, where you can play three different gambling mini-games for a chance to win big. These include roulette, slot machines, and betting on monster races. The casino also happens to sell the best sword, armor, and shield in the game. Since you find the majority of gear and items inside treasure chests scattered throughout the game, there's not much use for money outside of buying the best stuff at the casino. However, that stuff is extremely expensive, so you'll have to do a ton of gambling to get it all.

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Whereas Adventure Island IV merely took a little inspiration from later Wonder Boy games, Super Adventure Island II outright copies them. You know what they say: good artists borrow; great artists steal. Unoriginality aside, Super Adventure Island II is pretty fun. It provides a rather sizeable adventure with plenty of meat to its bones, and while the actual level design is a little lacking, the lightweight RPG mechanics make up for that shortcoming. Together with Adventure Island IV, Super Adventure Island II is one of the best games in the series.

Word Count: 1,421

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