Thursday, February 4, 2016

Game 25: Adventure Island II

I did a quick calculation before writing this, and if I keep up this pace, it will take me approximately 201 years to play and write about every game released for the Game Boy. I just thought you'd be interested in knowing this.

Look, it's Adventure Island 2! Who would have thought that the game that everyone knew had a sequel would be next? Who could have fathomed this??

So here we are again on Adventure Island, and judging from the title screen it's quite a small island. It makes me wonder how many adventures one could even have on an island of such stature. I mean, sure, getting abducted by aliens, but that's pretty routine.

As you can tell from the GIF above, the story to Adventure Island 2 is the classic three act structure that's used in most modern media. In Act I, our hero loses his best friend to aliens. That's the conflict. In Act II, he struggles, running back on forth on the tiny adventure island. That's the lowest moment. In Act III, he finds solace in a passing Loch Ness monster, and rides off into the distance. That's the resolution.

Alright, I think we're done here! Don't have to worry about playing this game at all, no-sir-ee, this is all wrapped up in a little bow. Yep. Just going to turn it off n-

Oh, wait, there's a whole game. Got it.
So I guess after finding his wonderful Loch Ness companion, Diaper Man is off to find a more fulfilling relationship. Will it be with a rock? A dinosaur that shoots fire? A vulture? Let's find out!

But first, the changes from Diaper Man 1. You may have noticed that the main menu now features not only a Start button, but also a Continue button AND a Password button! What is this malarkey? Password and continue at the same time? That makes no sense!

But it does! See, Continue does what Passwordon't. If you lose all of your lives, you can hit Continue and it'll take you right back to where you left off, items and all! Password only saves your progress in the world at large. The catch here is that when you turn off the Game Boy, the Continue option doesn't do anything but take you to the first level. That's why you have both, see?

Okay so honestly they could have just moved the Continue button to the Game Over screen and it would have made literally no difference, but I think it's more of a marketing thing. It makes people feel like the game is saving their progress, even though it's no different from having infinite continues. 

Menu nitpickage aside, there's also a ton of new items and companions, and a neat system where picking up duplicate items will actually save them to the inventory. It makes managing the inventory less of a trial and error thing. If you go into a level with a hammer, then immediately find another hammer, it's not lost. It just gets saved for next time.

Also, boomerangs and star blocks??
Alright, let's get started for real now. I'm obviously an expert at this game having played the original for 35 minutes and change. Let's get to beating this thing.

Okay, first level, no big deal. Just some snails and birds, and I already have a hammer. This is a breeze!

Is my face under the ground? Christ
So I just walked into a snail. This is my life. All the confidence in the world does me no good when I can't even dodge a (very large) snail. I mean, dodge is really a strong word for "hit the jump button before I walk straight into it." That's like calling it juggling when you toss a single apple in the air a couple of times before dropping it.

Okay, so the next attempt goes much better. Adventure Island 2 has the same problems from the last game, inasmuch as it's boring and the ground is mostly just flat, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. It even features the return of the skateboard, which is great fun, even if they gave it to me about 5 seconds before taking it away at the end of the level. 

I go through the treacherous Coastal Clash and end up in a Bottomless Pit. It's actually pretty grim looking, with skulls and bats, but it definitely has a bottom. Heck, it even has little water pits. Not exactly an accurate name but hey, could be worse.

Could've been called "Cheery Sunshine Lane with No Obstacles or Danger"
I even meet up with my old dino friend from Diaper Man 1! She shoots fire and apparently can swim, so that's nice.

Next up is the Oak Forest, which has some strange looking trees, spiders, and not much else. Then we get to In the Abyss, which is a water level, hooray. Swimming is a huge pain, because the main character is about as slow as I've ever seen in a game, and the enemies are very quick. Luckily, there's a nice Loch Ness monster waiting for us, straight from the title screen.
Hey Lochy. It's been a while, and I know things ended abruptly but...I was hoping we could swim together one last time.
She swiftly brings me to the next level, titled...Coastal Clash? That was the name of the first level, right? Yeah I just checked, that was the name of the first level.

Well, alright, whatever.

It's much harder than the first level though, with big lobsters and hermit crabs and flying octopus. It's starting to get (a little) harder. Of course, it could just be that I'm awful at games, because the one time I die on this level, it's to a little, immobile hermit crab. What is it with me and shelled animals?

Also this seems somewhat unlikely for an octopus to do. 
Welp, things are going smoothly for me. Let's see, what's this next level called?

Yay! The Desolation! Hooray!
These level names are sort of terrifying taken as a whole. The Abyss. The Desolation. The Bottomless Pit. Who names these things? The tourism board must have a hell of a time getting anyone to visit. Other than aliens.

Anyway, in case the name did not tip you off, this level is a holy nightmare. This game went from "intro world of Super Mario Bros." difficulty straight to "World 8 in the Lost Levels." Everything has bizarre movement patterns, including hopping scorpions and swooping vultures. There's quicksand everywhere. There are no powerups except one dino in the middle of the level.

This also happens
I lose all my lives trying to take this on without any powerups, the last of which is in a pit of quicksand which I didn't actually know would harm me.

Two words: diaper sand.
I decide to use all of my items to beat this level. It's really a no win situation if I end up dying, but I'm determined. 

And I actually get to the end of the level! I use almost everything I have over about 4 attempts but hey, whatever it takes. This is journalism after all.
Pictured: journalism
But that's not really the end of the level. There's a boss here, if you didn't take a clue from the world map. And it's a doozy. First of all, I think you have to have a powerup to defeat it, so god forbid you got there with no hammer. Second of all, it takes a lot of hits. And third of all, our hero's jumps barely clear the full height of the boss.
Also it's really unclear on what it wants to be. Is it a stag beetle? An antlion? Who knows.
Anyway, it kills me. And that sends me back to the beginning of the I have no items at all now. Except one boomerang. 

Okay that's it, I'm done with this. There was a time when I would have persevered, but no, I'm not going back to old levels to get new powerups. I'm not doing it without any powerups, that's for sure. I'm not wasting any more time on this game that I will almost assuredly forget in a month. 

Look, I liked these games alright. But there's a reason they don't make them anymore. They're forgettable, and they're really unforgivably hard in the most random spots. I'm done.

Goodbye, adventure island. I hope you find better exterminators

Next time, we'll be covering an NES classic with links to the Kirby series! Except it's on the Game Boy!

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