Friday, February 27, 2009

New Adventure Island

Hudson Soft / TTI

I've always liked NAI's little introductory sequence, during which kidnappings take place and angry Master Higgins holds up his fist against a fiery backdrop. In fact, that depiction of the vengeance-minded fellow is even more awesome than Last Alert's famous BURNING KAZAMA scene...

...Well, no... no, it isn't... but it definitely beats the "Mode 7 falling fat man" nonsense in Super Adventure Island for the SNES.

Sadly, I can't say I'm quite as fond of the silly post-stage sketches (during which our chubby hero prances and dances about with gaggles of goofy animals). Even less appealing is the game's repetitive, obnoxious music; and while there are some impressive multilayer scenes to behold, the visuals seldom deviate from typical old-school-platformer fare. Don't count on a high level of challenge offsetting the aesthetic disappointments, as almost the entire adventure is cake, with no truly tricky spots until Stage 6 (of 7), and every boss (including the last one) is easy to defeat.

You'd think that all of those factors would add up to something no better than mediocre, but New Adventure Island is actually one of the most enjoyable HuCard games around. The nonstop action is its bread and butter. While it's not particularly tough, it constantly has you leaping, dashing, and tossing weaponry, all at a quick, unabated pace. You've always got to be on your toes, and the smooth controls really allow you to get in a zone and just enjoy the breezy ride, making NAI a perfect biding-time, pick-up-and-play sort of title (make sure you have a fair amount of time to bide, though, as once you get going with the chip, you may find that you simply can't stop playing it). It doesn't feature any memorable moments that will stick with you forever, but its pure playability will make you return to it often, making its general lack of difficulty forgivable.

These shadowy fools should've known better than to mess with Master Higgins on his wedding day.

We're presented with a Mario-style agenda: most of the island realms consist of four sub-stages, with every fourth one taking place in a boss's lair.

There's more than just "sunny island" stuff to be found here.

You can see some appealing multilayer scrolling in a few of the cavern levels.

I suppose that these guys loosely qualify as "mini-bosses."

Despite Higgins' concerned countenance, the bosses are easy to beat. The bear can cause some trouble with his "ice wall" attack, though.

Bozhe moi.

Beat this bum and get your woman back.

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