Hudson Soft's main master of disaster and island hoppin' homey, Master Higgins, has stamped his jungle jumpin' time card four times on three Nintendo game systems. Well, Adventure Island III puts the Master's retirement plans on hold once again. Jeannie Jungle is abducted by space mutants!
That's right, outer space creeps make off with Higgins' fave babe-a-lidous companion. To save face and friend, the Master must plow through eight all-new, but still familiar, NES islands of adventure. Hudson's third Island installment follows the established format and doesn't stray in the slightest from the beaten path.
The Danger Zones
The space goons learn a lesson from the Master's old nemesis, the Witch Doctor, and set up a similar eight island obstacle course to confound Higgins. Our heroic jungle man hops through deserts, forests, waterfalls, volcanoes, caverns, and lakes in search of Jeannie J. The side-view levels are colorful but blocky looking. A few days in this paradise is a big dose of déjà vu. After a while, it all looks the same. Island II vets will also recognize the decent sounding, but recycled, jungle tunes.
ProTip: Walk slowly forward in Island 8's volcano areas. Stand in the center of a lava shower to avoid being scorched.
As always, Higgins' control is sweet and simple. His tried-and-true moves include running, jumping, ducking, swimming, and shooting. The Master's attacking arsenal is nearly unchanged from Adventure Island II. His primary weapons are an axe and a boomerang. He can also catch a ride aboard five varieties of friendly dinosaurs: Taylor flicks his tail, Magma breathes fire, Don-Don flies in the sky, Classie swims undersea, and a new steed, Poley, rolls and bowls over enemies. Higgins can also cruise the beaches on his trademark skateboard.
- Toss boomerangs to knockout boulders. Don't try this stunt with an axe.
- Roll Poley down hills to defeat gangs of island enemies.
A handy feature from the last Island is back in full force. Upon completing an area, Higgins can horde his weapons and dino buds for future use! This is especially helpful in the later, more lethal levels. The Master gets unlimited continues, and he keeps his full stock of items even when the game's over.
The Master's prehistoric pals aren't the only feature back from extinction. The ever popular egg items have also been reincarnated. Higgins must crack open the eggs to win prizes. In addition to weapons and dinosaurs, he'll find the Honey Girl for invincibility, a time stopper, and keys which lead to bonus rounds. More valuable hidden eggs can warp the Master past an entire island!
- Hidden eggs absorb your shots. Throw axes or boomerangs everywhere to pinpoint their locations.
- Leap directly on top of eggs to avoid knocking them into bottomless pits.
- You'll find a pterodactyl warp on Island 2-3, the Ice Cave. Look for another warp on Island 5.
Higgins' lifeline is on automatic countdown, so he's in constant danger of keeling over due to malnutrition. Don't fret, the Master gets the pick of the fruit and vegetable crop. Bananas, berries, pineapples, milk, and even pork chops extend his strength, and 100 such collectable delectables translates into an extra life.
Like much of Adventure Island III, the jungle nasties are old hat for Higgins. He matches wits with uninspired, but ever-dangerous, creatures such as flying swordfish, springing octopuses, bats, fire-breathing snakes, and pig-headed warriors. The space mutants deposit a big, ugly, boss baddie at the end of each island.
Duck on the left hillside and toss axes to sting Island 1's Scorpion boss.
Join the Club
Playing the latest NES Adventure Island game is like watching a new episode of "Gilligan's Island". You've never seen it before, but it still seems like a rerun. Adventure Island III is another massive, ultra-challenging, island-hopping addition to a classic series, but the game's structure and presentation are nearly identical to its forefathers'. The action's solid, but it's repetitive and familiar side-scrolling fare. The graphics and sounds are a grade or two below top-of-the-line NES games, such as Super Mario Bros. 3.
Despite the predictable failings, Adventure Island III is a good choice for first-time Islanders and those itching to rescue Jeannie J. one more time. Like the earlier 8-bit entries, the third should induce a mild case of Island Fever.