It is only now that Hudson Soft is no more than I bother to pay attention to their games. A shame. But just like most gamers living outside of Japan, I have a good excuse: most of Hudson Soft's best games were only available on the TurboGrafx-16, a console that simply never really took off the way its rivals, the Nintendo's SNES and Sega's Genesis, did. Now, a selection of the TurboGrafx-16's library is available on Virtual Console to let Nintendo fans know what they missed out on nearly 20 years ago.
After having a good time with the Wiiware Adventure Island, but before having a decidedly less fun time with the original Adventure Island, I downloaded New Adventure Island. Not to be confused as a remake, it is rather another game in the Adventure Island series that is inspired mostly by the gameplay elements of the first game while ignoring what Adventure Island II and III brought to the table. There are no mountable dinosaurs here, only weapons and skateboards.
The first thing you won't help but notice when you start playing this game is just how beautiful the graphics are. The sprites are huge and detailed, the colors incredibly bold. The resolution is as low as you would expect in a 16-bit game, but you simply know when you watched them that had you seen them when the game originally came out, you would have exclaimed: "This is it. Games have become actual cartoons. They will never look better than this." Master Higgins, the hero, has never looked cuter (and likely never will), and you can now make sense of his face, unlike the NES game.
Not content with giving gamers a cartoon that they can play, the designers also included cutscenes after each world: a huge animated Master Higgins sprite dancing the Monkey, or the Egyptian, or even ballet. It is as impressive as it is Japanese.
The music is up there with the graphics, with a good selection of upbeat or moody chiptunes depending on the level you are tackling. One only wishes it would not start over when you die.
And you will die, a lot. Perhaps not as often as in the original game, but it is not uncommon to have to use several continues in order to beat a single one of the 25 stages. Thankfully, the continues are unlimited, ensuring that most people who start playing the game will be able to finish it, as long as they are stubborn enough.
The bosses in the game are all very similar to the bosses in the first Adventure Island: they are beasts twice as high as you are. Jump and attack their heads enough times and they will die. The only variety is in their projectiles: each boss's attack has a different pattern, and you will often die the first time you encounter them, but should know exactly what to do the next time.
The stages and enemies, thankfully, show a bit more diversity. Oh, perhaps not in terms of level design, but certainly in theme and looks. You will be traversing jungles and caves, yes, but also snow-covered forests (watch out for grisly bears!), deserts (vultures and scorpions), etc. You do not find yourself going through the same levels over and over again, a problem in the original game.
In the end, New Adventure Island doesn't exactly break any new ground. In terms of gameplay, you know exactly what you're getting into. But even someone like me, who doesn't consider graphical quality to be one of his priorities, can admit that the well-realized look pushes the game on another level. I highly recommend it for platforming junkies who also happen to be japanophiles or simply love bright cartoons.
Wow, I really love the art style. I might give this a go if it's more in line with the original Wonder Boy, and not frustrating like Adventure Island. It looks less slippery, which is good. And again, the art style is sweet.
Nintendo's kinda guilty of this, too. They keep taking Yoshi out of Mario's games. (and then putting him back in for the sequel) Y'know, Yoshi was in Super Mario World, but not in NEW Super Mario Bros. But then he came back for NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii. There was no Yoshi in Super Mario Galaxy (despite being in Super Mario Sunshine) but came back for Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Dinosaurs, man. You never know when they might come back....