This sequel, then, is essentially the same as the first game, with one key difference: its level designer doesn't hate you and isn't out to make your life miserable. Gone are the impossible jumps between too incredibly close spiders, gone are the enemies placed exactly where only a complete asshole would place them. You can absolutely run through these levels, spamming your tomahawk at dancing pigs and snakes spitting out unidentified flying objects, and if you run or jump into a hazard, it will usually have been your own fault.
The only problem is that this game seems to err a little bit too far on the side of Easy. There really isn't much to impede your progress, when all is said and done. You still have a timer/hunger meter, but it seems way more generous than last time: you are never in any real danger of running out. What's more, you can now stock up on power-ups and save them for later, harder levels. It's an interesting evolution for this series, for sure, but in this case it only manages to make an already easy game, easier.
Speaking of power-ups, you now have more than tomahawks and skateboards at your disposal: you can also enlist the help of 4 dinosaur friends who can swim better, shoot more powerful fireballs, jump higher, etc. They are quite cute, but they do not actually change up the game much. Certainly not on the scale that Yoshi did in Super Mario World, bringing with him his own new gameplay mechanics. No, these guys are mostly just another hit point added to your life bar.
The bosses are more imaginative and varied this time around, but that only means you are not always fighting the same guy sporting a different head. No, they come in many forms... yet they still manage to feel the same. A lot of them simply teleport from place to place on the screen, waiting for your tomahawks to hit them. ALL of them shoot very, very slow, easy to avoid, fireballs.
The lack of color unfortunately makes the game's levels feel more samey than they already are. There are water levels, desert levels, magma levels, but you would be forgiven if you hadn't noticed. And they do end up repeating quite a lot in the end, anyway, as they did in the NES original.
There are some more issues to watch out for. The collision detection in the game seems erratic, as sometimes parts of you can go through enemies and obstacles, and other times you will die without quite making contact. And the framerate slows down as soon as 4 sprites, including Master Higgins, are on screen. Thankfully, none of the flicker that plagued the first NES game can be found here.
In spite of that, the game can be fun to mindlessly run through. As far as the classic run-and-jump platformers on the eShop go, it stands above the first Super Mario Land title. It is quite a bit prettier, if also quite a bit safer. Ultimately, my recommendation hinges entirely on how much you crave an Adventure Island experience on the 3DS. If it sounds like it would hit the spot, go for it. For those waiting for the right game to discover this series, I would wait for the TurboExpress library to be added to the eShop service, as Nintendo promised at the 2011 Games Developers Conference. There is a high probability New Adventure Island will be one of the first games released.
I always enjoy reading your thoughts on this series. I remember getting into AI2 and 3 as a kid, although I haven't played them since. But hopefully they'll hit the VC (a VC?) soon because I imagine the colors and larger playing field will alleviate a few of your problems with the GB AI2. I don't remember much about the difficulty though.
No score, no idea how to process any of this. Head explodes.
Nah but really, do you know if this is a straight port of Adventure Island II or something modified like a lot of Gameboy versions of NES games were? If it's basically just the same game I'd probably rather wait for a shot at getting it on the consoles in color and all of that jazz.
So an update: the NES version is much longer, and is a lot more difficult!
You picked up AI2? Me too! It's simpler than I remember, but I'm still enjoying it. The dino-riding elements were some of my favorite aspects of this series, and the bosses have actually been pretty fun as well.
Well, some islands seem to have more than 4 stages. And I've noticed there are branching paths, and I've got no idea what determines where you go next: sometimes stage, say, 2-3 will be a cave, sometimes it will branch to a regular outside level instead.
I've never played AI3. I'm hoping it will find its way to Virtual Console.