Monday, October 15, 2012

NES Replay: Adventure Island II

Developer: Now Production
Publisher: Hudson
Released: 1990
This Game: The whole reason I did this series
In NES Replay, we go through each NES game from A-Z to see if they're any good. Today: Adventure Island II.

I have a secret.

There are four NES games that cause me to lose all objectivity. Three of them are Mario 2, Mario 3 and Kirby's Adventure. The final one is Adventure Island II.

Adventure Island II and I have a history. It was 1991, and I was invited over to my friend Stephen's house. He had rented a few games from Preferred Video, and we sat down to play for the evening.

The first one was Back to the Future. We'll get to that one at a later date, but it wasn't great.

Adventure Island II, though, was something different. In Adventure Island II, you got to ride dinosaurs, and throw hammers, and... my lord... walk up inclines!

Yes, walking up an incline in a game absolutely blew my 10-year-old mind. Super Mario 3 was out, but I hadn't had a chance to play it yet. That meant that this was the first time I saw an incline in a video game with my own two eyes was in Adventure Island II. It sounds like a really dumb thing to geek out over, but really, you had to be there.

And the music! My goodness, the music. I can honestly say that the first time that video game music really moved me was with Adventure Island II. Up until then, I liked the little tunes coming out of the NES, but I had no idea that you could coax such graceful music out of a mere toy.

One of the features that I specifically singled out as being awesome was the ability to store your dinosaur buddies until you wanted to use them again. A level giving you a hard time? Use a stored pterodactyl so you can fly over the level. Is there a level with lava? Use a red dinosaur so you can walk through the lava safe and sound.

Was the level design great? I don't really know. Some of the later levels were punishing, but most of the time the game at least seemed fair. There were secrets everywhere that would enable you to skip whole worlds, find areas full of delicious, life-giving fruit, and give you extra items for use later. There was just so much more in this game than I was used to seeing, and it just scrambled my brain.

After we were done playing, I declared Adventure Island II's music to be the best game music of 1989, and Adventure Island II as the game of the year. Never mind that I hadn't actually played any other games from that year as far as I knew. Adventure Island II was my Game of the Year, and I declared it as such right then and there.

Looking back, that's probably the first time I tried my hand at game criticism. Sure, I just went on and on about how great Adventure Island II was, but I attempted to at least explain why it was so great.

Adventure Island II was a very formative game for me. As such, I can't tell you if it's any good, to be perfectly honest. I can't tell you specifics about the level design, or put it in perspective compared to other games of its time. All I can say is that it's always going to be a great game for me.

Final Rating:

Next week: Adventure Island III

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