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Adventure Island (Nintendo NES) Review
Review by 
6.67/10 from 10 user ratings
In my Wonder Boy review, I claimed that Wonder Boy and Adventure Island are "the exact same game". I said that because I had read that the level design and the mechanics in both games were identical, and simply assumed that Adventure Island was Wonder Boy with an NES skin. In some ways, I was right, but in the way that matters most, I was dead, dead wrong.

Yes, Adventure Island shares a ton of similarities with Wonder Boy: you play as a chubby hero out to rescue his girlfriend. You will have to avoid snakes, rocks, fire and bats while constantly moving forward and collecting fruit in order to refill your vitality meter, which always ticks down. Sometimes, you will gain items like tomahawks to kill enemies, or a skateboard which allows you to get hit one additional time, but means you will scroll automatically forward.

I praised Wonder Boy for its sense of rhythm and the careful layout of the enemies which managed to reward speed and quick reflexes, and punished hesitation.

Adventure Island is the complete opposite, somehow, despite sharing the same basic level layout. Subtle differences in the way the hero and the enemies move, differences in enemy placement, make for a much less forgiving, and less fun, game. In fact, "less forgiving" is an understatement that borders on being a flat-out lie: the game is best described as "a series of dick moves by the developer". The only goal behind the obstacle placement in the game seems to be to punish the player: punish quick reflexes, punish hesitation, punish less-than-perfect execution. It is simply impossible to finish a level in the second half of the game without dying over a dozen times and learning the level by heart, unless you have a weapon still from the previous stage.

The best analogy I have to describe this game is that it is to Wonder Boy what The Lost Levels is to Super Mario Bros. One feels right, and the other feels like the game designers hate your guts. While BIT.TRIP RUNNER fans would do well to check out Wonder Boy, only fans of masochistic platformers such as Mighty Jill Off! or I Want To Be The Guy need apply for Adventure Island.

With its impossible difficulty, its distracting flicker and its ugly art and colors, it is hard to fathom how Adventure Island could be considered a classic, and yet the game has had half a dozen sequels. And it is especially hard to fathom how this brutally unpleasant game could have sprung out of the Wonder Boy formula, how with only a few changes, something beautiful can be turned into pure evil.

This game and I did not part on the best of terms.

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 Weak  4.5 / 10
04/25/11, 04:40   Edited:  03/03/13, 06:13
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You just mad the game bent you over?

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 05:12

I am mad at the game for being impossible, and at myself, for sticking with it and hating every second of it.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 05:25
I never played this game for the NES, but I actually owned about 5 or 6 games total for the NES. I was into videogames then, but I believe around then arcades is where I did alot of my gaming. The only games I remember owning for the NES was, Super Mario Bros(I believe this game was packed in with the NES), Pac-Man, Marble Madness, Super Mario Bros 3. There was a couple more but I cannot remember what they were.

Now, when the SNES came out, thats when I really got into home console gaming. I built up a quick collect, Super Mario World, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Super R Type, Castlevania IV, Contra III, Street Fighter II, Actraiser, Super Turrican... just to name a few...there was also this cool pinball game with 3 tables...the name is on the tip of my tongue. Back then it was tough to find good pinball videogames and I am sure by today's standards the game probably does not hold up now.Ahhh, the memories from my younger years...heck that was 1990 or 1991, I was actually 25ish then...anyways, I seemed young then, compared to now anyways.


At least you stuck with it. Probably the only game that was really tough that I stuck with was Super Ghouls and Ghosts. The only time I really thought the game was cheap was on the 2nd playthrough, near the end of the game and you needed that fairy bracelet and it seemed like it was few and far inbetween finding one in those chests or whatever they were. And you needed the damn bracelet to defeat the final boss. I actually made it to him and I wound have beaten him but sooo many times when I would die, there wouldn't be any bracelets around, so I would have to start over and after hours upon hours, I said F this. I got close enough to the actual end and I tried my best. Its just bullshit that there wasn't any bracelets around near the end of the game. Plus not too long ago I watched the ending on youtube or somewhere. I really didn't miss much by not actually defeating the final boss.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 05:28   Edited:  04/25/11, 05:34

So you are like a beaten housewife who just couldn't leave?

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 05:30
chrisbg99 said:

So you are like a beaten housewife who just couldn't leave?
That is exactly how I would put it, except that I was also in competition with another beaten housewife and trying to prove I could tough it out, too. That bitch.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 05:35
[ref=id=5278&pagenumber=1#136137]Guillaume said:[/ref][quote][ref=id=5278&pagenumber=1#136135]chrisbg99 said:[/ref][quote][ref=id=5278&pagenumber=1#136132]@Guillaume[/ref]

So you are like a beaten housewife who just couldn't leave?[/quote] That is exactly how I would put it, except that I was also in competition with another beaten housewife and trying to prove I could tough it out, too. That bitch.[/quote]C'est la vie. We gotta stick together!

Funny review. I like the game a little more than you for its first half, mostly solid controls, good music, and fun character designs. It does get stupidly brutal after awhile and significantly less enjoyable by then, and the repeating stage themes get very tiresome by that point (SMB1 did this to a much smaller degree, notably in a couple castles, but AI does it throughout the entire game--every fourth stage is the same, but with more obstacles).

I may make it my duty to finish every game that the Retro Club takes on. The good news is that after doing it with AI, I feel like I can tackle the worst of 'em (of course, I may end up eating my words if Battletoads or TMNT comes around).

I love Master Higgins' face in this game:


Look at that intense stare and that extremely wide frown (?). Try to copy that expression! Bonus points if you manage to eat your nose with your bottom lip like Higgins.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 05:55   Edited:  04/25/11, 05:56
@TriforceBun I see it as either a nose, or a thin mustache getting blown back in the wind...

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 06:15   Edited:  04/25/11, 06:15
@TriforceBun Master Higgins' face is awesome. I never realized this until you brought this up.

I do like I Wanna Be The Guy (which I beat two or three bosses in, but quit when I accidentally saved over an instant-death patch of land, which would force me to start all over again), but I think I'll hold off on Adventure Island for the time being. Maybe someday I'll give it a try, but I'd sooner try to access the hidden tenth world of Wonder Boy.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 08:04
Ouch. Maybe I chose the better option for the retro game club after all.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 21:32
This game is absolutely brutal. I played it recently for the first time thanks to Retro Club and gave up on level 6-1.

Just watching that video you posted of level 7-4... it gives me nightmares.

The developers absolutely must have designed these levels for the pleasure of torturing players...

@TriforceBun His face! It makes no sense!

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 21:50

It will always be a mustache to me. It doesn't make sense otherwise!

Again; Congratulations, G-Man.

..but you forgot to mention the awesome music!

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 23:16
How weird. I always heard that it was the exact same game. Interesting to know that there are differences. Maybe I'll check out Wonder Boy now.

It IS fun to go back to some of the games that I always thought were 'impossible' in my youth and actually beat them, though.

Haha, I can totally see the mustache thing.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 23:27   Edited:  04/25/11, 23:28
@Anand Why were you not playing Wonder Boy with the retro game club?! You can still jump in, it's a short enough game.

Also what are you guys talking about, his face makes perfect sense. He has a big ol' butt chin. Except without the crack.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 23:37   Edited:  04/25/11, 23:37
I haven't even played a non-handheld game in weeks. If you exclude demos, MONTHS. And if you take Okami out of the picture... MORE MONTHS.

I did just get Radiant History in the mail, though. Into the pile, it goes.

Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 23:54   Edited:  04/25/11, 23:55
Lies! That Deviljho didn't take itself down!

Posted by 
 on: 04/26/11, 04:06
Oh, yeah! And Monster Hunter. But that was the only time I've played that in a while, as well. That's why it took so many tries!

Posted by 
 on: 04/26/11, 19:08
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