Adventure Island 2 is the sequel to
Hudson's well-known game, Adventure Island, which, oddly enough,
is a game I've never played. AI2 was my first venture into this game
series, and the experience has "mediocre" written all over it. You play as
a little fat guy in a grass skirt running around an island, bopping
enemies and riding dinosaurs in Mario-like gameplay. It's not a bad game,
but it's not really great, either.
7/10The graphic style and appearance of AI2 is cartoon-like. Everything in the backgrounds is
drawn really big and is quite colorful, but it also comes across as
looking rather flat. There are several different background scenes, such
as palm trees, forest, cave, desert, underwater, swamp, and volcanoes. As
you progress, you'll occasionally come across a level that stands out from
all the others, such as the rolling snow hills on the ice island. But for
the most part, the same few backgrounds are repeated and palette-swapped.
For example, it's the same forest everywhere you go, but on the volcano
island, the sky is orange, and on the ice island, the color scheme is
white and blue. The enemies look okay, but they're nothing special. Little
snakes, snails, and frogs, and of all things, a killer white rabbit. Most
of these enemies left me wondering why I'm even fighting them.
Higgins, the main character, looks like a blob. The best thing about the
game's graphics are the dinosaurs that Higgins can hitch a ride on and
the bosses. The dinosaurs are drawn well, look cool, and I like their
animation. The bosses are huge and well-detailed. Overall, the graphics
aren't bad, just a bit bland.
5.5/10The sound in this game isn't all that bad. Many of the themes are kind of catchy and upbeat, and some
attempt to be dark and moody. But none of it really stands out, and it's
not composed too well. It's a bouncy calypso style that's just about as basic as NES music can get. It changes quite frequently, which prevents it from becoming
too annoying, but I just didn't find myself really wanting to hum these tunes. In fact, if they had stuck in my head, that would probably be a bad thing. I did particularly like the boss
theme and the underwater music, though. The sound effects are nothing
special and are the basic 8-bit "boings" and "bonks".
6/10Once again, what could have been a
decent gameplay experience is dragged down to "average" because of somewhat bad play control. Granted, this game's play control isn't overly bad, but
there are times when it glitches up in the worst possible situations.
Normally, if I run along and start jumping, Higgins will jump as far as
possible without any problem. But when there comes a time when you MUST
jump really far to get over an enemy or flaming pile of sticks, Higgins
will come up short and land on the life-depriving object! It must be a
conspiracy. You can hold down the B button to run faster, but when I tried to stop, I often lost all control of Higgins as he went skidding around. There are
times when you need to make run-assisted longjumps over gaps, but Higgins
keeps going when I wanted him to stop, and either careens into an enemy,
or falls into another pit. The control seems to improve a bit when you
ride the red and blue dinosaurs, but the momentum problem when running is
still there. Also...that plesiosaurus is supposed to improve your
control underwater, but all he does is make me a bigger target, and he's
2/10After being bonked on the head by a coconut, Higgins awakens...and then proceeds to run around an island bonking animals on the head. The manual states that this game is actually about rescuing a princess from aliens, but that's not very original. Adventure Island 2 is also lacking in atmosphere. Its cut-and-paste backgrounds, simplistic music, and run-of-the-mill level designs don't exude the feeling of being on an adventure-filled island very well. Master Higgins is not really appealing as a character to me, either, and the game just seems to lack personality, despite having a few cool dinosaur friends.
5/10Due to the cartoony graphics, many people may
think this game would be quite easy just from looking at it. While it
starts off easy, you'll soon find out that the game is, in fact, quite
difficult. Unfortunately, rather than make tough enemies and interesting
level design, it seems like the programmers took every annoying thing a
game could possibly have to make it challenging, and throw it at you.
First of all, don't be fooled by the "Continue" option on the title
screen. You cannot continue unless you find the Hudson Bee, hidden in one
of the early levels. Another pervasive problem is that you aren't automatically
given a weapon. You have to find a stone axe inside an egg somewhere in
the level (and they don't exist in all levels.) If you die, you lose the
weapon. This is not good. If you find that guy who offers to let you skip
the island, decline him, because you'll need to store up weapons and
dinosaurs from the early levels in order to get through the later levels. While this may seem like whining about the way the game is designed and meant to be played, it is just far too easy to end up getting so far into the game and not be able to progress because I ran out of weapons. When that happens, I pretty much have to
start all over again, which isn't a good thing when considering that the actual in-game challenge and level design is nothing spectacular.
The boss fights are entertaining, but they don't excuse the multitude of lackluster areas you have to slog through to get to them.
5/10Even if this game's technical problems with the controls and continue system were not present, I still can't help
but feel this game would be boring. There are eight islands to explore,
each progressively more difficult. It seems like the designers were trying to make the game more like Super Mario Bros. 3 in
this way. But unlike SMB3, you can't control where Higgins goes on the
map. He may take a different route than the one you played the last time.
Some may say this is "original" and makes the game feel "new" each time
you play...until you realize the levels are all so similar to each other, that it really doesn't matter where he goes. And it's
really annoying when you're one stage away from the boss level, and
instead of going right to the boss, Higgins makes a beeline for
another stage. As you move through the levels, Higgins's life meter
constantly goes down. You can replenish it by collecting food along the
way. But you must get to the end of the level before it runs out. This is
AI2's version of a timer. I am not really fond of having to rush through
levels, and in many of AI2's levels, if you hurry, make no mistakes, and
collect every fruit along the way, you'll still just barely make it to the
end in time. This means I often have to sacrifice dinosaurs when I would
have rather stopped to fight. The dinosaurs are kind of fun to use, but
they really can't save what is essentially very average gameplay. There's
also this little "Choose an Egg" game at the end of each level, but all
you usually get is points. Points aren't necessary in a game like this!
Why not give a useful item or weapon?
Having never played Adventure Island 1, I was unable to comment on how Adventure
Island 2 may have improved on or been worse than its predecessor, but it's probably just as well that I reviewed it as a game all on its own. It's really, really average. I've never finished
it, because I usually get bored with it by the time I reach the third island. The
boss fights are fun, but that's about the only good thing I can really say about it. The rest
of the game is just an average sidescroller that tries in many ways to be
like Mario, but falls short. And an average game gets an average score.
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