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There were a lot of Super Mario Brothers clones on the NES. I can't really blame them because SMB was really popular, and the NES was limited in what it could do in terms of innovative gameplay. So, in 1986 Hudson released Adventure Island in Japan, and the U.S. got it two years later. While it is a lot like Super Mario Brothers it has enough unique features to make it a solid game on its own.
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Yes, there is a story behind Adventure Island. Okay, so you play as Master Higgins (I couldn't make that up), who is trying to rescue his 'friend' from a tropical island full of danger. I applaud Hudson for making quite probably the first gay game hero ever. Let's look at the facts: No. 1 - Master Higgins looks like Mario in a green speedo (which has suspenders, for some reason). No. 2 - Master Higgins is going through a whole lot of crap to rescue a guy. Not a princess, a dude.
If we add up the gay points we get one for Master Higgins' Mario mustache, one for the speedo (since both mustaches and speedos are very gay), and one for rescuing his lover, er, I mean 'friend.' And who can't picture Master Higgins waving a rainbow flag? I know I can, and it's awesome.
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NES games are never very difficult to figure out, and Adventure Island is no exception. The directional pad controls movement and the 1 button is jump while the 2 button is used for throwing weapons. You do run along the screen sideways, like SMB, and you can't go back once you have passed a point. However, unlike SMB you cannot jump on enemy's heads. That will kill you! You must crack open eggs and get a weapon (usually an axe) to throw at enemies before you get to them. You also can get skateboards (complete with helmet and knee pads) to ride on, fairies to help you and other things from eggs.
Oh, and since Master Higgins is always jogging he needs a constant supply of food. You need to fill him up on as many bananas, pineapple and other food items as possible as you race through each level, or he will keel over from exhaustion.
Adventure Island is also much faster than Super Mario Brothers. Master Higgins runs at a breakneck speed, so you need to be ready to jump and throw axes at a moments notice. The pace is fun, but it can get repetitive since all you are doing is running and jumping. The eggs are conveniently placed on the ground, so Master Higgins just runs right into them. There is virtually no exploration in the levels. There are bosses at the end of the every forth level, but they aren't too hard to kill. This part is actually easier than SMB because all you have too do is throw a few axes until they die.
Since you have so much stuff to keep in mind (feeding Higgins, running and jumping) and you have very few lives, and everything (save rocks) kills you after one hit, the game is much more difficult than Super Mario Brothers.
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Graphics and Sound
The graphics are okay, for an NES game. I wasn't that impressed, but the colors are bright and bring to mind Saturday morning cartoons set in tropical locations. Master Higgins is very cartoony, as are the enemies. Since there is no exploration the levels all start to look the same though, and that isn't very adventurous.
The music is definitely worse than the graphics. I understand the limitations of the NES, but why did so many games have the most annoying midi tunes out there as their soundtracks? It's upbeat and silly, but it's not catchy. BurgerTime has better music, in fact, and that's saying something.
Graphics wise and music wise Super Mario Brothers does it better.
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Yeah, for a mindless gay friendly platformer, Adventure Island is fun. However, I'm not sure if it has the replayability that other better NES platformers have. Once I finished it, I was not compelled to ever play it again, while I play Super Mario Brothers all the time. The difficulty might throw some people off, but if you just want to run around and mash buttons, you'll love it.
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Adventure Island isn't half bad. It's fun for a laugh (Master Higgins jogging in place is hilarious), but once it's over there isn't much left. If you really love NES platformers and must play them all, spend the 500 points on it and enjoy. However, if you just want to play a game like Super Mario Brothers, play New Super Mario Brothers for the DS instead. At least that game is good for the replay value.