Monday 10 July 2017

Hudson's Adventure Island (NES review)

Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Released: 1988

Hudson's Adventure Island is a platform game that was also released on MSX computers in 1986.

Playing as Master Higgins, your mission is to travel through eight worlds (with four levels each), defeat the Evil Witch Doctor and rescue Princess Leilani. Your weapons are a Stone Axe and Fireballs, but a Skateboard can also be collected to afford you a second hit before losing a life. As you play, an energy metre constantly depletes and to stay alive you'll need to collect fruit scattered around the area. While the game has a cute exterior, the action is hard-as-nails! Enemies are always in tough spots and beating most levels relies on pattern recognition and pixel-perfect jumps. The collision detection and controls are excellent though, leading to extreme satisfaction when you do manage to beat a tough level. It's a real thrill when you get on a roll, and pummelling through enemies with the Invincibility power-up is just as satisfying as Super Mario Bros (1985, NES). The action is simple, yet charming, and strikes a great balance of risk-reward whereby you instinctively want to rush through the level to avoid running out of fruit, yet, speeding along too fast will likely see you reaching an early grave! The levels are just the right length to give you a tough, yet realistic challenge too, and don't outstay their welcome. The main gameplay concept is admittedly repetitive, but the interesting and varied level design (including caves, forests and air-based sections) help to keep things feeling fresh. The biggest disappointment are the bosses, as they're almost identical to each other and have an easy-to-spot pattern. There's also some flicker and a ton of slowdown later in the game that can affect your timing and precision.
Hudson's Adventure Island definitely isn't for the faint-of-heart and if you're easily frustrated you should perhaps look elsewhere. However, if you like a real challenge there's a great little platformer here, and as long as you head into the game with the right mind-set there's plenty of fun to be had.
Random trivia: An in-game cheat allows you to continue at the same level with a full stock of lives.

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