Obey Your Master...
Welcome to the second part of my amazing review of Hudson Soft's Adventure Island. If you're reading this sentence, then chances are pretty good that you just finished reading the first part of this review. If you didn't, then you should probably find a better a search engine. If you enjoy obnoxious flashing pop-up advertisements, click here. Okay, I've wasted enough of your time with this half-assed segue. Let's move on...
Cobra. This enemy is named Cobra. Naturally, it's a cobra. And as one would also expect, it spits fire. All enemies take one hit to kill unless otherwise specified.
Fire. Yup, it's a fire all right. Hundreds of random fires have been lit across Adventure Island by some unseen arsonist. If you're clumsy enough to run into one, you die instantly. While unrealistic, death is a reasonable alternative to the years of painful, expensive, and marginally effective cosmetic surgery that most burn victims endure. Fire is listed in the enemies section of the manual, but boulders are not. Go figure. Fire is specifically listed in the instruction booklet as being unbeatable, but that's a lie. Crashing your skateboard into a fire will kill it and so will running into it while invincible.
Kello. Since this enemy looks like a frog, it's obviously called.... Kello? So much for the clear and concise naming strategy. Kellos come in two varieties, green and brown. Brown ones jump around, green ones don't move; either one is deadly if touched. A green Kello will turn into a brown if hit.
Red Oct and Blue Oct. The Octs are almost exactly the same. The both only appear in ocean levels and they both jump straight up and down. The only difference is that the blue one takes an extra hit. You might be wondering why I distinguished between the two types of Octs in bold, but not the two types of Kello. I don't know, but that's the way the manual does it.
Sneil. Why is the snail called Sneil? Fuck if I know. Maybe a Japanese guy did the English translation and spelled it wrong; it certainly wouldn't be the only time that a translated game had incorrect grammar and/or spelling. Maybe some guy at Nintendo of America named Neil did the translation. I guess we'll never know. Regardless, Sneils are mostly harmless.
Pooter. Pooters are pigs. Unfortunately, they seem to have read Animal Farm. You can tell because they walk on their hind legs, wear thongs, and constantly shout "Four legs good, two legs better!". Like everything else, they'll kill you if you accidentally wander into them. Very few enemies in this game seem genuinely interested in killing you. Look at the sketch of Pooter from the booklet, clearly he just wants a hug.
Skeleton. Another unclever name, but this one is also incorrect. Skeleton is clearly not a full skeleton; it's just a skull with deadly fireballs circling around it. Much like Pooter, Skeleton just wants a hug.
Cavas. Cavas is one of the only enemies in the game that poses any real threat. They fly (gasp!), they come out of nowhere, and they often travel in flocks. If you don't have a level memorized (and why would you?), it's not hard to get hit by one.
Ice. Proving once again that Boulder got screwed, Ice is officially listed as enemy. Unlike Fire, Ice is apparently alive; it has eyeballs. Weird? Hell yeah. But if you haven't suspended your disbelief by now, you've probably stopped reading. Besides, cognizance isn't a terrible explanation as to why the icicles only seem to fall when you get near them.
Waler. Another fucker that jumps at you outta nowhere. At least this one is only in the water levels.
Coyote. I had thought this enemy was some sort of hooded thief, but I was wrong. It's supposed to be a coyote and what I thought were its eyes are actually its teeth. Coyotes take two hits to kill and come running at you from behind. If you see a flower in the background, that means one is going to attack you soon. This important fact is yet another thing that Hudson Soft doesn't bother to tell you in the instruction manual.
Basser. My least favorite of all the enemies. Since it's a bat, it's only found in the underground levels. Not only can they catch you off guard, they also track you a little bit. The later cave levels are home to the game's hardest jumps, which makes me hate these bastards all the more.
Zigmo. A lameass spider thing, he's even less threatening than Sneil. Some of them don't even move.
The Evil Witch Doctor. The big boss man. In each area, the Evil Witch Doctor uses his crazy voodoo magic to summon a new head for himself. In order, they are: Rhinoceros, Owl-Type Thing, Cyclops, Sabertooth Tiger, Regular Tiger, Prehistoric Walrus, Another Stupidass Bird Thing, and Lion. As levels progress, he takes more and more hits to defeat. When you knock his head off in Area 8, he stumbles into a pit and dies before he is able to summon a new one.
Quiz: Which Witch Doctor Incarnation Are You?
NES Controller. The items in this section are all power-ups that are not listed in the instruction manual. If you manage to beat a coyote by jumping over it and then killing it once it's in front of you, you're rewarded with a game controller. It doesn't actually do anything, but it's worth 1000 points. The coyotes are pretty damn fast, so it's rather hard to kill them in later levels where there's lots of fire and rocks to dodge.
Fire Weapon. Throughout the game, there are hidden eggs which are revealed by jumping up and down in certain spots. If your weapon hits an invisible object, there's an egg hidden in that spot. The rest of the items in this section can ONLY be found in hidden eggs. This is a secret weapon that can break rocks and boulders as well as everything else the axe can break. Unfortunately, it doesn't arc like the axe, and that can be bad when there's a Cobra spitting at you from behind a rock.
Red Milk. The red bottle of milk refills your life, just like the white bottle. It's slightly prettier though, and it's secret.
Ring. The ring does absolutely nothing, but it's worth 2000 points.
Extra Life. During the course of the game, you may find some babies. If Fatty eats one, he gets an extra life.
Key. If by some chance you find a key, you'll be whisked away to a magical land in the sky where the food is worth 500 points apiece. It's a high calorie dream come true.
So after you decapitate the Evil Witch Doctor, you rescue the lovely Tina and the game ends. Wait... what? In the instruction booklet, I was clearly told that I was supposed to rescue one Princess Leilani. Maybe she died or something, I don't know. Tina's not fat, so it's all good. This isn't the only disparity between the game manual and the actual game, check this out:
The instruction booklet clearly makes reference to a mysterious King Quiller who you never fight. He's not a secret boss or a Japan-only boss; he simply doesn't exist. This game was originally released in Japan in September of 1986 and then in North America in September of 1988, with both versions being virtually identical except for the title screen. Oddly enough, the American version of the title screen gives the copyright as 1987. Being as this version came out long after 1987 had ended, perhaps there were drastic changes in the game's development during this time. Perhaps this King Quiller was part of an ill-fated localization attempt that Hudson Soft suddenly abandoned due to costs. And perhaps the instruction booklet was a product of this aborted localization and it was never updated due to poor communication between corporate and the localization team. That, or the localization team never made it past 8-3, the game's frustratingly tough penultimate level, and someone told them that there was TOTALLY this guy called King Quiller who you get to fight at the end of the game. The truth is, we'll never know for sure. Oh well.
Adventure Island is a fun game that really embodies the spirit of that video game era: weird enemies, weirder power-ups, nonsensical plots, and good gameplay. It was also Hudson Soft's second most successful franchise, behind the much more famous Bomberman. I'd really like to see the 2D platform genre make a comeback on console systems instead of being relegated to the GBA. Games such as Viewiful Joe, Metal Slug 3, and Contra: Shattered Soldier have proven that there is life left in the genre. For the love of God, not every game needs to be 3D.
Posted by: Syd Lexia
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