12 August 2007
In the spirit of so many games before it, like Ghouls 'N Ghosts, Golden Axe, and Jackie Chan's Kung Fu, New Adventure Island begins with our hero trotting across a map. Don't be fooled by the picturesque palm trees and water. The journey is long and fraught with danger—anything that breathes.
The controls are very similar to Super Mario Brothers. You jump with one button, and the other one lets you attack and by holding it down you can sprint. Unlike Mario, you can pick up numerous weapons, ranging from axes and boomerangs to arrows. Each level is a race against the clock, but the clock is represented by the ticking of your depleting life points. Luckily our hero, Takahashi Meijin, has a large appetite and by consuming various types of fruit scattered throughout the levels his life meter can be replenished.
Since you're always in a rush, dodging enemies is often better than wasting time to kill them. Note the clean and colorful graphics. Look at how the stones outline the level, combined with the vines hanging down and the glowing rocks in the background provide depth to the cavern.
The best way to speed through levels is to do it in style, on a skateboard, which is lifted directly from Adventure Island's original debut on Nintendo. Not only does skating through levels help you beat the clock, it also provides a shield of sorts, since your first hit from an enemy merely destroys the board.
The red curtains for the first boss battle remind me of Zelda II. Remember when you finally manage to wind your way through those dungeons, and the draperies warned you that the final struggle was about to ensue? For Takahashi those curtains are a lot scarier, because there is no such thing as backtracking or waiting until your ready; your depleting life forces you onward! On the plus side, during boss battles you don't face a time limit. Still, one hit is all it takes to get sent back to the beginning of the level.
These are some of the most colorful graphics you'll find in a TurboGrafx-16 platformer. The levels are vibrant and detailed. You'll also be amused to see the protagonist sweat as he sprints through levels.
The music is original and surprisingly addictive. It has a frolicsome sound that fits the mood perfectly as the goofy main character dodges enemies and maneuvers—or blunders as the case me be—through each stage.
Takahashi moves very fluidly, and he can chuck various weapons with ease. The run button gets you moving fast, and despite rushing through every stage you rarely feel out of control. However, the gameplay in general is a little short on depth. Every level consists of running to beat the clock, dodging or shooting enemies, and little else.
This is one of the most challenging and vibrant platformers available for the TG-16. Unlike its brethren, Adventure Island pushes your gameplay skills from the very start, thanks to the aggressive time limits on each stage. This is a tough game, but at least you have unlimited continues. You're going to need them!
I also highly recommend checking out Chris Bucci's 13 April 2009 Review.