Hudson’s Adventure Island (originally released in Japan as Master Takahashi’s Adventure Island) is an interesting game. Having never played any of the Wonder Boy games (the game series that Adventure Island is a clone of), I came into this positively cold, not knowing what to expect. I have to say that it’s not the best game I’ve ever played, nor the easiest, but it is interesting. I managed to actually record some video of a play-through this time around – I’ll get it up on my vodPod sidebar once GameTrailers is finished processing it.
You play as Master Higgins (in the Japanese version, it’s Takahashi), a guy whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by an evil chieftain while on vacation on a tropical island, and you have to go to rescue her.
The game definitely has character. The jumping controls are pretty good (not as good as Mario Bros.) but they’re still decent, and the axe has a decent trajectory to it, such that you generally don’t have to worry about shooting over your target, while still reflecting the trajectory of a thrown axe.
The game is hard. Very, very hard. You get 3 lives, no continues, and from as much as I encountered (using Save states to get longer than I normally would on a single playthrough) no 1-ups – though you can use an exploit at the end of the first level to get unlimited continues, in certain versions of the game. Further, you die in one hit – though there are mid-level check-points. Further, you have a slowly decreasing health bar, which can only be replentished by finding fruit power ups in the course of the level – except for Eggplant, which will decrease your health.
Remember what I said about the eggplant? Well, there are other “power-downs” that will try to kill you in the eggs that also contain your power-ups. Consequently, there’s a lot of trial-and-error in this game, and it’s not forgiving about those errors. Now, with emulation, there is the option to use Save States to take some of the pain out of the trial and error (though it’s still there), but on an actual game cartridge or on Virtual Console (which doesn’t support save states) it’s a gorram nusance. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to beat the game, but it does mean that it will take a while. Being that with my schedule for blog posts (and my general unwritten rules for Quality Control), I’m going with one sitting for each game, this makes the game rather annoying.
As far as on Virtual Console or an actual cartridge is concerned, in my opinion this game has not aged well enough to be considered worth the hype… though the justifcation for this decision on my part is rather minor – the lack of continues. With any version of Super Mario Bros, you press A and Start on the title screen and you can continue, no worries. There’s no such feature here, nor are there 1ups, nor is there a password option, or a simple continue you can hit. Now, if you have fond memories of this game (I’ve never played it before), you may be able to look past this – similarly if you’re looking for a hardcore, old-school, epic challenge. As for me, I’m giving this a pass.
And here’s some gameplay of me trying to play the game: