(SNES / Super Nintendo)

Super Adventure Island (SNES / Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Super Adventure Island Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Back to basics

The Adventure Island series started out with an almost exact clone of Wonder Boy, but as Wonder Boy became more of an action RPG rather than an action platformer, Adventure Island sequels stuck with the same formula as the first game and built upon it slightly with each release. In Adventure Island II and the later Adventure Island III, this meant the inclusion of the dinosaurs and reserve items, but curiously Super Adventure Island takes a step back instead of forward.

It's a pretty standard affair for Master Higgins: his girlfriend's once again been kidnapped, so he's got to run through a bunch of worlds in an attempt to get her back. His arguably greatest foe is not a single one of the monsters found in the game, but rather his portliness – as time goes by, he will lose health simply because he's getting tired, which means you'll have to grab some food floating around every now and then to stay alive.

Higgins's arsenal is pretty bare this time around, with just the standard axe and boomerang available. Picking up several of the same weapon in a row will allow you to throw multiple simultaneously, while grabbing even more will turn them into clusters of purple energy balls. While functionally the same, these do much more damage, allowing you to kill tougher enemies in one hit instead of the two it usually takes. Of course, the trademark skateboard also makes an appearance in a few levels, making you go at a much faster speed and giving you one extra hit point, but as usual, you can't stop moving while on it, so you'll have to exercise extra care.

Your adventure will take you through all the standard Adventure Island locales, including jungle, desert, volcano, mine and a snowy area, but you'll find that it's a much shorter journey this time around. While previous games had eight worlds with about four levels each, there's only five worlds with three levels each here, and they're usually very short. Each world concludes with a radically different boss fight, which can actually prove fairly challenging, especially the tricky final boss.

There's really only one truly new gameplay aspect to Super Adventure Island compared to the previous games, and that is that Higgins now has the ability to do an extra high leap by holding the down button and jumping. This can make avoiding certain enemies much easier, and it also greatly helps with platforming. Bonus stages are also still around in this instalment, once again found by jumping to spots where your weapons hit a seemingly invisible object.

All in all, Super Adventure Island is a bit lacking in content compared to its predecessors. There's not nearly as much variety in the items, and the game is over before you know it; you can probably beat the entire thing in half an hour if you know what you're doing. However, it's still very fun, and perfect for when you feel like going through a game that's not too long but still challenging.

Only one thing about Super Adventure Island truly stands out: the soundtrack. Composed by Yuzo Koshiro of Streets of Rage and ActRaiser fame, this game features some fantastic, extremely catchy hip hop-esque tunes. In fact, we'd almost say the music alone is worth the price of the game. At the very least, look it up somewhere, it's worth a listen!

The graphics are pretty good as well, with 16-bit Higgins looking pretty much exactly like you'd imagine after making the jump from the NES. The locales are all pretty attractive as well, and there's actually, surprisingly, not a single environment which appears in more than one stage.


It's a bit strange that Super Adventure Island actually removes some ideas instead of adding more, but it's still an entertaining platformer and a worthy entry in the Adventure Island series. You'll finish it in a jiffy, but that makes it all the more suitable for quick, challenging playthroughs. At the very least, you're getting a fantastic soundtrack!

From the web

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User Comments (18)



TheLonelyGamer said:

Loved this game, kinda sucks that some of the elements from the NES Adventure Islands (such as the ability to ride on dinosaurs) games were not in this, but still really fun nonetheless.



Weskerb said:

I've already downloaded two Adventure Island games on my Wii, and I want to get this one too. They are so fun and easy to play because it's such a streamlined platforming experience. I don't think games like this ever get old, and you still see new games that are very similar coming out, look at Bit. Trip Runner for example. Personally I'd choose Mr. Alex Higgins any day.



Corbs said:

I just never liked this one as much as the NES and TG16 games.



daznsaz said:

i remember playing 1st wonderboy that was on master system or megadrive didnt know they did them on nintendo back then thought they were made by sega



snigel1 said:

goood music? this is in my top 5 of worst soundtracks ever, sounds like a parody of some extremely generic, german dance music.

still a solid game, but play it with muted tv!



FigetingPigeon said:

I'm really glad they released this game on the VC, was one of my first games I purchased with my SNES. The game still holds up really well today and brings back some memories. The only niggle I have with this game is the controls aren't the tightest they could be for a platformer but it's only a small niggle and the soundtrack is a absolute classic right from beginning to end.



Henmii said:

"The only niggle I have with this game is the controls aren't the tightest"

I totally agree. I have played it just a little so far, and I really have troubles with the controls. It just doesn't feel right!



Vinsanity said:

The weird timer - an Adventure Island trademark, I know - is the only thing that blows about this game. It's a really cool 16-bit platformer otherwise, with that annoying little gimmick. I'm glad they got rid of it for Super Adventure Island II. But I wonder if Super Adventure Island stands up to the 16 bit platformers already available, like the obvious Mario & Sonic classics, but also games like Aero the Acrobat 2 or DoReMi Fantasy. Still, glad to have more quality on the VC these days:) So thanks Hudson.

Still want the three Rocket Knight games and Metal Warriors/Metal Storm (both of 'em) though. But this is welcome. And so is Sega localizing Monster World V, finally! I haven't played that since Gametap had console games and didn't suck.



Ren said:

Indeed, I remember at the time that the soundtrack blew me away. Even by today's standards it's much more tasteful hip hop than most video games can muster. getting that kind of sound out of what was available then is a truly rare skill. Sure it's generic, but it copycats the sound that defined great east coast hip-hop in the late 80's and early 90's, and does it really well. Not something I ever expected from a Super Nes game then or even now.
(if it annoys you it probably means you're young enough that you've only heard it as co-opted and re-sampled in modern house or dance music in some form)



WaveBoy said:

I never really cared for this one for some reason.
And Higgins will never be as cool as WonderBoy.



WaveBoy said:

Mr Higgons is basically a shirtless Mario, with a shaved mustache in a Hula Hula skirt. He's probably Mario's long lost Hawaiin Brother.



StarBoy91 said:

Good review, Drake.
Decent entry to the Adventure Island series, though by no means the best. I liked the soundtrack from Yuzo Koshiro, especially this swimming song that sounds like something out of Donkey Kong Country to me. It's short, but fun; though I do confess that I have issues with it.

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