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Part III: Married Life

New Adventure Island
(TG-16, 1992)

Considering that Hudson Soft played a major role in the development of the Turbo-Grafx 16 console -- it was their technology that was used as the storage medium for games -- it seems inevitable that Hudson Soft's primary franchises would end up on that system. In 1992, New Adventure Island was released just after Super Adventure Island and displays the marriage of Master Higgins and Tina, making us wonder whatever happened between him and Jeannie Jungle. Just as they are leaving the chapel, the loathsome Baron Bronsky and his cronies kidnap Tina... and some small children for reasons unfathomable. Master Higgins knows what he must do... once again...

With six worlds of four stages each, the Master has his work cut out for him. The game plays like the original Adventure Island and features four weapons: the axe, the boomerang, fireballs, and arrows (which had not been seen in an Adventure Island game yet). Other than that, it was a back-to-basics approach to the series. Unfortunately, due to the console's poor reception overseas, New Adventure Island never really took off outside of Japan.

Super Adventure Island II
(SNES, 1995)

Tina's back. Master Higgins and Tina are indeed married in this installment; the big lug proves that he can commit to one woman and stay there. But all will not be well for these two lovebirds. As they sail across the sea on their yacht -- er, sorry, raft -- a wild tempest suddenly strikes, separating the two to different locations in the area. Both suffer from amnesia after washing up on shore. Tina finds herself in front of Waku-Waku Castle, where the king becomes smitten with her and they decide to marry. Meanwhile, Master Higgins pops up somewhere entirely different with no recollection of why he is there. He must regain his memory and win back his lady love once again!

Super Adventure Island II bears a strong spiritual resemblance to Takahashi Meijin no Bouken Jima IV for the Famicom in that it's less of a straightforward platformer and more of an adventure title. Master Higgins visits different island regions and collects items that helps him access other areas. It is, however, somewhat like an RPG in that, while traveling over the water via his special raft, he can be attacked at random and is forced to fight his way through a barrage of enemies in a similar fashion to the side-scrolling encounters of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. He can also get some shopping done if need be. Overall, it's a unique experience that was thankfully released overseas. It would also be the final Adventure Island game for 14 years...

Adventure Island: The Beginning
(Wii, 2009)

After 14 years of hiding in the depths of an abandoned cave, Master Higgins finally stepped back into the island sunlight for one more adventure. Hudson Soft once again returned to the series' roots when developing this title. He must consistently run through four islands, divided into four sections (are these games getting shorter?), while avoiding the local wildlife or destroying it courtesy of the usual axe, boomerang, or spear to the forehead. As well, Master Higgins will need to always munch on delicious fruit to keep his health bar full. In this game, he can actually increase his life meter to almost double its size.

How? Through the game's new shop. By finding Golden Melons hidden throughout all the stages, Master Higgins can visit the shop on the overworld map and buy health upgrades, new moves, and weapon enhancements. That's all well and good, but I think this feature has been included to appease younger gamers who aren't used to the olden days where skilful tactics were required for this style of game. Now you can just buy your way to success. But as if that weren't enough, Hudson Soft threw in four mini-games, ranging from a third-person skateboarding match to a test of thumb power to see how many times you can press the fire button per second, la Takahashi Meijin's infamous "16 Shots Per Second" record. Adventure Island: The Beginning also features many special goals (similar to Trophies/Achievements in other games) to unlock extra clothing, if you need that.

The graphics took a step up for sure, although they didn't exactly meet the standards at the time. The controls could have used some extra work, though; from a game where accuracy is everything, a bit too much floatiness can be the difference between survival and controller-tossing frustration. Still, for Adventure Island fans and those who have never played one, this is a remake worth checking out.


Thus ends our Adventure Island retrospective. So, will we ever see another game starring our favourite island inhabitant, Master Higgins? It seems quite unlikely now as its developer, Hudson Soft, ceased to be as of March 2012, having been absorbed into Konami. Hopefully, Konami will be smart and revive some of the beloved Hudson Soft brands in the future, including Adventure Island (and Bomberman -- don't forget Bomberman!).

(Screenshot for Adventure Island: The Beginning provided courtesy of GameFAQs.)


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