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Video Game: Adventure Island

Adventure Island is a 1986 side-scrolling platform game by Hudson Soft for the Nintendo Entertainment System and MSX, where the player controls a tropical warrior named Master Higgins (known in Japan as Takahashi Meijin, after Hudson's spokesman Toshiyuki Takahashi) on his quest to rescue his "favorite lady" (wife in later games) from King Quiller (AKA the Evil Witch Doctor), and stuff his face full of whatever food he can find, lest he drop dead. The more well-known NES version is a licensed re-release of the original Wonder Boy with the characters swapped out, which was possible thanks to the fact that Wonder Boy developer Westone was an independent company from Sega and owned the code to the game, despite the fact that Sega owned the Wonder Boy trademark (hence the name and graphical changes).

Original sequels were made by Hudson Soft without Westone's involvement. They include:
  • Adventure Island II (1991). For NES and Game Boy.
  • Super Adventure Island (1992). For Super NES.
  • New Adventure Island (1992). For TurboGrafx-16.
  • Adventure Island 3 (1992). For NES and Game Boy.
  • Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV (1994). Japanese-only; the final game ever officially released for the Famicom.
  • Super Adventure Island II (1995). For Super NES.
  • Adventure Island: The Beginning (2009). For WiiWare.

Hudson also commissioned a 51-episode anime TV series, "Bug-tte Honey" (lit. "Honey the Bug"), which was produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha and aired in 1986-87. The plot centers around Takahashi (Master Higgins) being kidnapped and his girlfriend, Honey Girl (the bee-like fairy who granted Higgins temporary invincibility in the first several games), trying to rescue him by enlisting the help of three Earth kids. This anime in turn inspired its own Famicom game in 1987. Neither the anime nor the spinoff game were released outside Japan (although it was shopped around under the title of Honey Bee in Toycomland). There was also a theatrical anime film.


The series provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Picking up an eggplant will seriously ruin Higgins' day. And yours.
  • Acrofatic: Master Higgins
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: The original Adventure Island was literally an NES counterpart to Sega's Wonder Boy,as Hudson was given the rights to the game's code from original developer Westone, but not the rights to the game's title and characters (since they belonged to Sega). Subverted with the sequels, which were developed independently by Hudson and were not adaptations of any Wonder Boy games (although Super Adventure Island II did adopt an action RPG format similar to the Monster World series spun-off from Wonder Boy).
  • Asteroids Monster: A boss example is found at the end of Lethal Lava Land in Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV".
  • Author Avatar: Takahashi Meijin is considered himself to be Master Higgins.
  • Art Evolution: While the character sprites have been mostly constant throughout the series (except Higgins' red cap in the SNES games, his outfit in New and Tina herself in New, Super II and The Beginning), the artwork has evolved over the years. Higgins was depicted with a caveman-like leopard skin in the Adventure Island cover and the Japanese Adventure Island II localization, but this was soon replaced with clothing that resembled his in-game sprites. His character design were also changed entirely in the North American covers of III, Super, and the Game Boy ports to more realistic proportions, dried leaves and a ponytail. Tina had the most changes even in Japanese artwork, despite her usual sprite depicting a simple two-piece bikini as her casual wear - in the original Wonder Boy game she had a headband and more wild hair (she looked more or less identical in the MSX version), she wore an exotic regal attire in the original game's box art and the first Game Boy port, wedding gown in New and low cut dress in Super II, and finally a long grass skirt to match her husband's tropical cloth in The Beginning (not to mention her model kept changing in the artwork, such as the one-piece leopard skin she never wore in-game on the cover of New, and her inconsistent hair color and flower, as well as body frame and height, accessories and jewelry, etc.).
  • Awesome but Impractical: The skateboard seems like a great way to get around. Until you figure out that there are no brakes...
  • Bad with the Bone: Master Higgins can throw bones as a weapon in Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV
  • Bottomless Pits
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: From Adventure Island II, bosses are rather explosive when damaged enough.
  • Check Point Starvation: Adventure Island II and 3 have no checkpoints within stages, in contrast to four for each level in the first Adventure Island. At least the stages are shorter.
  • Collision Damage: Master Higgins is allergic to wildlife.
  • Critical Annoyance: The constant bleeping in Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV when being at one health left.
  • Cultural Translation: Master Higgins in the Japanese version was a caricature of Takahashi Meijin, a real-life video game expert who has served as the official spokesman and executive for Hudson Soft in Japan since the 80's (indeed the series is called Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima or "Master Takahashi's Adventure Island" in Japan).
  • Damsel in Distress: Tina, Master Higgins's lady friend and later wife (also debatably Jeannie Jungle and, to a lesser extent, Princess Leilani).
  • Death Throws
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Most of the games after the first made use of these.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: First ones that can be found, are moving ones in the first game.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The first game is a graphic swap of the Sega game Wonder Boy. In fact, it was even made by the same developers.note  Ironically, this continued with the 2005 cell phone game called Super Adventure Island, which in reality is a graphic swap of Wonder Boy In Monster Land.
  • Drought Level of Doom: In the first NES game, sections of mountain levels had no food in them, forcing the player to be in a hurry. Some stages in the second and third games have little food as well.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Tina was supposed to be renamed "Princess Leilani" in the localization of the first game, but her name was only changed in the manual and not in the game's actual ending text. To fix this, Princess Leilani was revealed to be a separate character, Tina's sister, in the sequel (perhaps intended to be the green-haired proto-Tina from Wonder Boy). However, the blunder continued in the manual translations of the third NES game and its Game Boy port (which called her "Jeannie Jungle"); she was also called "Princess Tina" in the Game Boy port of the second NES game.
  • Every 10,000 Points: In the first game, it's possible to get extra lives when getting a lot of points. However, it takes a lot of time to get one that way.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Touching pretty much anything in the game will hurt or kill you, barring eggs. And those have a decent chance of containing eggplants...
  • Extreme Omnivore: Higgins is more of an Extreme Vegetarian in the first game. Later games also add meat.
  • Flash of Pain: Hitting bosses really lightens them up from Adventure Island II on. In the first installment, it makes their face turn purple instead.
  • Floating Platforms
  • Graceful in Their Element: In the NES sequels, Elasmosaurus and Pteranodon are very clumsy on land, but they are very good swimmers and flyers respectively.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The levels can be borderline impossible, but the bosses are all slow moving and throw easy to dodge fireballs.
  • Hard Mode Filler: The first game has tons of them.
  • Head Swap: The Evil Witch Doctor in the first game literally does this. At the end of each world, he will lose his head and get a new one after being defeated by the player.
  • Heart Container: In IV, usually requiring you to solve a jumping puzzle to obtain them. They come in a variety of full and half heart containers.
  • Hearts Are Health: In IV.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In Super, Dark Cloak in his second form will try to squash the life out of Higgins, only to break the floor and fall into the fire.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: So hyperactive, in fact, that if Higgins doesn't get enough food in most games except IV and Super II, he'll die of starvation.
  • Hyperactive Sprite: Higgins couldn't stand still in Adventure Island, Adventure Island II, Super Adventure Island, New Adventure Island, Adventure Island 3, Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV. This trend finally stopped in Super Adventure Island II, and remained that way in the 2.5D titles Adventure Island: The Beginning and 2003's Hudson Selection Vol. 4: Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima.
  • Ice Palace
  • Invincibility Power-Up: Honey Girl the fairy will make ol' Higgins invincible for 15 seconds, allowing him to bump into and kill anything with a touch. In Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV, an actual star takes over her role.
    • The anime series Bug-tte Honey features Honey trying to rescue Higgins with the help of three Earth kids. Seems Higgins would be lost without her.
  • Life Meter: Played straight in Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV and Super Adventure Island II. The early versions used a hunger meter instead.
  • Market-Based Title: Somewhat. The Game Boy version of Adventure Island is actually a port of Adventure Island II for the NES, while Adventure Island II: Aliens in Paradise is a port of 3. In Japan, they just kept the same numbers.
  • Metroidvania: Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV and Super Adventure Island II.
  • Nintendo Hard: Most notably the first game. Particularly when you wind up without a weapon. Fourth Famicom game is rather easy though.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Except in IV, Super II, and The Beginning. One hit kills are prominent, unless Higgins is riding or has a special gem.
  • Playing with Fire: Fireballs are your best friend when it comes to staying alive.
  • Personal Space Invader: One of the bats in Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV takes away all collected food this way.
  • Poison Mushroom: Some item eggs contain ... eggplant, Higgins's least favorite food. If opened, the eggplant will follow him around until it has drained his HP down to two bars. You can't get rid of it, but you can get a points bonus if you can survive the rest of the level in this condition.
  • Power-Up Letdown: The skateboard in the first game, II, Super, New, 3 and The Beginning which makes you unable to stop.
  • Power-Up Mount: Dinosaurs.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Present in later installments.
  • Promoted to Playable: Tina (or is that Princess Leilani?) in the 2004 cell phone rendition of the original Adventure Island.
  • Recurring Boss: Each end level boss in the original is the same, but with a different head. Seriously.
  • Reformulated Game: The Japan-only MSX version is far less known today, but actually has an original set of levels and slightly different gameplay features, slightly distancing it from its Wonder Boy origins (although still obviously based on it).
  • Relationship Upgrade: At first, "sweet Tina" is Master Higgins's "favorite lady", and thinks of "how grateful she'll be" when he sets out to save his "honey" (she was apparently first rescued in Adventure Island II, if the language of the manual is to be believed). Evidently there is no problem with this line of thinking with the women of this seemingly tribal culture (or at least Tina), as they quickly got married in New, are later seen living together in the same hut in IV, and then had an ultimately successful (if slightly troubled) honeymoon in Super II.
  • Save the Princess: Or as least, a princess's sibling, as Tina is not said to be royalty for some reason (except in her apearance in one of the Game Boy ports).
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Oddly enough, a rare video game example where this exists in the original version, as the Japanese version of Super Adventure Island writes the girl's name differently (Jīna). This could be a simple transcription error, or perhaps she was meant to be an Expy all along (in which case, Miss Jungle is actually supposed to be a separate character from Tina, but this was seemingly corrected in the next occurrence of "Jeannie Jungle").
  • Springs Springs Everywhere: Springboards can be found in numerous places, sometimes hanging even mid-air.
  • Stalactite Spite: All four NES games.
  • Stationary Boss: The first boss of Adventure Island II.
  • Stock Femur Bone: Master Higgins can throw these in Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima IV.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Played straight in the first game. Averted in most sequels.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Adventure Island II, 3 and IV (especially the last one since there isn't a time limit). Selectively in Super.
  • Taken for Granite: Miss Jungle (temporarily) when the two were clearly about to make out on the treetops in Super... and Master Higgins himself in the boss battle against Dark Cloak's first form, in an unusual death animation in which Higgins angrily struggles as he is slowly enchanted to stone by the spell from bottom to top (as opposed to Miss Jungle's instant and presumably painless transformation) while Dark Cloak chuckles at the petrified corpse as it is cast into the flames below. Fortunately, while Miss Jungle didn't see it coming, Higgins can actually break free and survive if the player mashes buttons in time.
  • Timed Mission: First three NES games. Collecting food and milk recharges the energy though.
  • Too Fast to Stop: The skateboard.
  • The Unfought: Despite returning as the main antagonist in Adventure Island II (according to the manual), only the Evil Doctor's monsters are ever seen and fought in the game.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The game is harder when you don't have a hammer. The skateboard is a mixed blessing but is very helpful in some levels.
  • Unwinnable: The later levels, if Higgins dies and loses his weapon in the wrong place.
  • A Winner Is You: The end of the first game.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Except in IV and Super II.