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Who doesn't enjoy a tale of a handsome, dashing young knight rescuing his fair damsel in distress from a wicked dragon high atop a castle? That's what Adventure Island game is all about, except the knight is replaced with a chubby gentleman wearing nothing but a baseball cap and grass skirt, the fair damsel is similarly wearing a two-piece bikini, the dragon is a large, humanoid creature that appears in all 8 levels, and the castle is an exotic island off the South Pacific, complete with rolling boulders, jumping octopuses, spitting snakes, and friendly fairies.
Players expecting a serious game will be disappointed with Adventure Island, but the rest wanting an action-packed side-scroller will be delighted. The premise of Adventure Island is simple enough: our hero's woman gets kidnapped and spirited away to an island, and it's up to him to rescue her. The game is actually a copy of another game called Wonder Boy, but has received much more popularity compared to its twin. The developer of Adventure Island, Hudson Soft, released the game in 1986 and has since created a slew of sequels on other platforms. Much of the game's appeal lies in its lighthearted nature, item collecting, hidden objects, and challenging gameplay.
In Adventure Island, you continuously run across the screen, collecting fruits and dispatching enemies while you're at it. Staying in one spot for too long and refusing to collect fruits will result in your character's life being slowly depleted; the fruits replenish vitality. In the beginning, you only have the ability to jump, but as the levels progress, mysterious dinosaur-sized eggs with a power-up inside will present themselves. These include a hammer for knocking out foes, a skateboard for quickly zooming past levels, milk to replenish vitality to its maximum capacity, a flower that increases game points, and a fairy that grants temporary invulnerability. There's also an occasional eggplant which depletes life, as well as hidden eggs that contain super power-ups such as a flaming hammer, ruby ring, and life doll.
Adventure Island foes are plenty: swine, vipers, slugs, practically all manner of ocean life, stationary pots of fire, rolling boulders, confusing clouds... you get the picture. At the end of each level, you get to battle a walking, mutant animal of some sort. It's exciting at first, but the boss is practically the same for all levels, even the last one. We never really get to see or defeat the main villain, said to be an evil doctor who kidnapped the hero's lady, unless he happens to be one of the generic bosses. It's hard to tell. But that's a minor flaw compared to the hours of enjoyment this game delivers, as well as hours of frustration, because despite the simple controls, this game is extremely difficult to beat due to the speed of play.
Adventure Island is another timeless classic that many of today's adults will probably remember playing in their youth. In fact, one quick game with Adventure Island online will probably bring back that nostalgia in waves.
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