Thursday, August 20, 2015

Game 24: Adventure Island

Adventure Island has a long and storied history, and is almost as synonymous with the name Hudson as Bomberman is.

I have no idea about any of that, of course. This is the first time I've played an Adventure Island game, although a source tells me that this won't be the last one I play.

To be clear, there's a sequel on the Game Boy, and my source is named Looking At A List Of Files.

In any case, I think that it's important that we look at Adventure Island as a historic game before we just jump in to me saying "oh look I played a game, blah blah blah"

Actually let's skip all that. I'm just going to tell you why this game is super, super weird.

The basics, first. Adventure Island is a platformer in the vein of Mario, i.e. run to the right and jump on baddies. There are a few important changes, though. First of all, instead of a timer you have what amounts to a hunger bar. Get too hungry and you die. Secondly, the main character is wearing a diaper. Third, seriously the main character is a full grown man wearing a diaper and I really don't understand that at all.

In any case, the hunger bar made a major difference in the way that I play the game. It drains really fast and so I either had to keep moving at a very fast clip, or die. Picking up food helps a little but it's definitely not enough for any dawdling.

But that's all pretty normal. Adventure Island is, in fact, not normal. Here's a series of interactions spanning approximately 3 seconds: I was riding a dinosaur and threw a star from the dinosaur's tail. The star hit an egg and from the egg hatched a spade playing card. I touched the spade playing card which changed how my dinosaur looked, plus it let the dino shoot fire.

Also, the main character is definitely wearing a diaper 
That pretty much sums up Adventure Island: it's a lot like Mario but absolutely baffling.

Here are some things that happened: I threw hammers that sometimes made tomatoes appear without any visible reason. I tripped on a rock. Once, I broke a rock with Flame-Dino's breath and it turned into milk. Milk is worth 1000 points and restores more hunger than a pizza.

(As an aside, has anyone else discovered the sublime pleasure that is eating pizza and drinking milk afterwards? The rich, spicy, greasiness of the pizza washed away in one cool gulp of milk? Perfection.)

There are some really cool idea in this game though! For instance, there's this weird screen that completely made no sense to me when I first saw it:
Neither A nor B did anything except make a big ol' HONK sound to let me know that I screwed something up. Amazing.

But it turns out this is actually very nifty! It allows you to store any powerups you got in the last level, so you can use them on future levels. That includes your throwing hammers and the dinosaur/plesiosaur friends that you can ride, plus at least one thing I never saw. It's kind of like the item bar from Mario 3, except you have much more control over it. Pretty neat!

And there's also a skateboard:
Hey good lookin' with the helmet on
When you're on a skateboard, you can't stop. You can slow down, but that's all. At the same time, with the hunger meter constantly pushing you forward, the added speed bonus is nice. It's a risk/reward situation is what I'm saying, and I am a big fan of those.

In the end, Adventure Island is definitely A Game. The weirdness slowly fell away as I got used to the systems. I started throwing hammers at eggs like an Olympian, if the Olympics involved smashing groceries with projectiles. I rode dinosaurs and skateboarded into caves. I found a warp zone by throwing a hammer at a tree (I think), wherein a pterodactyl took me away to another land.

Also, stared at me with her glassy, soulless eyes

In fact, I got so good that I didn't even get hit once until the second boss, which is when I figured out this important fact: diaper man can only get hit once, and then he dies.

Not pictured: me getting hit immediately after and dying
See, I'd assumed that the hunger meter was also a life meter of sorts, and that getting hit would just take away time. Nope, every hit is an insta-kill. 

Well, except tripping on rocks which is actually does take a small chunk off the hunger meter, and nothing else.


Anyway, after this boss the game gets pretty merciless. Food is less and less present, enemies are everywhere, powerups are scarce.

And then there are the bats.

This is much more pleasant than Pugsley's death animation, at least
Screw the bats. I lost at least 3 lives to bats alone. They're fairly unpredictable and have a weird motion. They're placed at weird heights so you're either jumping just too low to bop them or just too high and hit your head.

They are evil.

Even choosing an egg is not going to make up for the bat-pain, okay?
And so that's basically where my game ended. I got to the third island, got killed a bunch by bats (and one coconut to the head) and got a Game Over. There was an option to Continue from the beginning of the island, which is more forgiving than I am used to. I started there and had a thought.

"Do I remember any of the levels I've played?" I said out loud to myself, except in my head with thoughts instead of words and without using my vocal cords.


Anyway, the answer was NO, I don't remember any of the levels I played in this game. It's actually really forgettable, which is the core paradox of this game. It's really weird, and really boring at the same time.

Except for this smug-ass snake that vomits fire.
I mean, it's fine. I don't have a problem with it, it just...didn't do anything for me, I guess. Just another game to throw on the pile of "things I experienced" and leave it at that.

And that's why I'm really looking forward to playing Adventure Island 2! I'm lying.


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