Review: Adventure Island (Game Boy)

In this review, we ride the dinosaurs in the Game Boy game Adventure Island. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1992. It is a port from the NES game Adventure Island II.

You play a caveman protagonist. Your mission is to rescue a woman after liberating 9 islands from enemy control.

Aiding you along the way are four dinosaurs. Two of them walk along the ground. One of those dinosaurs uses a powerful tail kick that sends a shock wave at enemies. The lesser common walking dinosaur looks very similar, but breathes fire instead.

A third dinosaur crawls along the ground. The strength this dinosaur has is that it is able to swim under water. While it doesn’t have an attack, your caveman can still throw stone axes to compensate.

The fourth and final dinosaur is a pterodactyl. You gain the ability to fly riding this dinosaur. While in flight, you can also throw rocks as well.

Each dinosaur can be found in the eggs scattered throughout the land. The way you find out if you found the right egg is if you open it up and find a playing card symbol (diamond, heart, club, or spade). Each symbol represents one of the dinosaurs you can earn.

As an added bonus, it is possible to collect dinosaurs and amass a reserve in the process. To do so, you need to find a symbol while riding a dinosaur. The dinosaur you are riding will transform into whatever you earn. The previous dinosaur will be added to your inventory you can choose from between levels.

Also found in the inventory is your stone axes. If you collect a stone axe while carrying the stone ax ability, this too will be added to the inventory (accounting for that fifth egg).

Each island contains a handful of levels. Beat the levels and you’ll eventually make it to the boss at the end of the last level. Defeat the boss and you advance on to the next island.

Another note about levels is the fact that at the end of each level, you get to access an extra bonus screen. You get a choice of six randomly generated eggs. The prizes I’ve seen are: 50 points, 100 points, 500 points, 1,000 points, 2,000 points, and a free life. The better the prize, the more rare you’ll win it.

While eggs do carry symbols, that is not all they carry. Sometimes, they carry an ability to get to a bonus area. Another item they carry are points. In addition, if you are not riding a dinosaur, these eggs can reveal a skate board. Great for moving along more quickly, but more easy to get yourself killed in the process. On occasion, these eggs may also carry a milk bottle.

Probably one of the biggest factor in this game that affects your survival is the energy bar. Throughout the level, you’ll constantly consume energy. Run out of energy, and you die. To keep the energy topped off, you need to collect the various fruits you find throughout the stage. On occasion, you may also encounter a milk bottle. The milk bottle will restore your energy completely. The energy is probably the biggest challenge throughout the game.

In addition to this, if you are riding a dinosaur, any hit will kill off the dinosaur. This leaves you wandering on foot. If you get hit while on foot, then you lose a life. You start off with three lives, but for every 20,000 points, you gain a free life. You can carry a maximum of 9 lives. Another way to earn free lives in this game.

One thing I found with this game is the difficulty. Unlike a number of other games I’ve played, I found this game to be a little too easy. The only real challenge besides the energy bar was a particularly difficult jump on the last level. I don’t know if this is partly because I got through playing Operation C and Gremlins 2 – The New Batch and allowing that to color my opinion of this game or what, but I didn’t find a lot of challenge to this game. At the risk of playing games much more difficult than this, I’d say this game is definitely for those who don’t want a game that is too hard. For the casual gamer who wants to give an adventure game a try that won’t annoy them, this is a great candidate.

In a related criticism, most of the boss battles just seems way too easy. Most of the fights involve my going to the middle of the screen and waiting for the boss to appear. Once the boss appears, I just run up to it and mash the “B” button. Most of the time, the boss barely gets off a single shot before I obliterate it.

Another problem I have with this game is that there are a number of repeating level areas. This is mainly thanks to the intro area for caves and water areas. In fact, the cave climbing levels feel like they have the same layout, but swap out some of the enemies. Don’t know if that’s just my imagination, really. Either way, there is a definite sense of level repetition in this game.

On a somewhat related criticism, I found that the levels were a bit on the short side. Often, I would end the level and think, “that was it? That’s all this level has to offer?” Because of the difficulty being on the easy side already, it made beating levels feel like less of an accomplishment.

What I do like about this game is the number of different locations. There are ice stages, water stages, volcanic levels, caves, jungles, and even a few sky levels. This variety really does boost the quality of the gaming experience.

The dynamics of the different dinosaurs that help the player also made things a more interesting play. The fact that the extras can be selected prior to every level made things much more interesting.

Generally speaking, the easy difficulty and short levels didn’t help this games quality that much (easy boss fights only increased that feeling). While it may be more accessible to those who don’t game much, more experienced adventure game players may find this game a bit too much of a breeze to go through. The dynamic dinosaur selection screen makes things interesting. The different environments the player goes through also helps make this game feel like a full game experience. So, it’s a decent enough game, but not something you can get a challenge out of that much.

The graphics are pretty decent. Blurring from fast movements are fairly minimal. The backgrounds used are nicely detailed. Can’t say I have much to complain about here. It’s a pretty solid effort, though the water sections do have a little bit of blank space in spite of the grey background.

The audio is OK. I didn’t find the music to be particularly memorable, but the sound effects are OK. Fairly average if you ask me.

Overall, if you are after an easy adventure game on this system, this game is a great candidate. As an experienced player, the boss fights and many of the levels just seemed too easy. The dynamics of the different dinosaurs did work in this games favor. The different environments also helped to make this game a more fulfilling experience. The graphics are decent enough with only water levels seemingly a bit bleak at times. Blurring is minimal. The music is alright, but nothing memorable. OK sound effects. An alright game, but a little too easy.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game.

General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 68%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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