Everyone loves an established video game franchise. After all, some of gaming’s best loved characters have been going on adventure after adventure for years, prompting players to line up to reserve the next installment of Super Mario, Link, Samus Aran, or Sonic the Hedgehog. Over the years, however, some games just haven’t struck gold; they’ve been overshadowed by more popular fare that shares the store shelf or are even passed over due to something as petty as unimpressive box art or an unusual premise. They deserve to be remembered and revived, but instead they are The Forgotten.
Developed by Hudson Soft
Released for NES, Super NES, Game Boy, and TG-16
Another of the "also-ran" mascot platformers born in the 1980s, Hudson's Adventure Island follows the adventures of tropical islander Master Higgins as he journeys across a series of islands in search of his beloved girlfriend Tina who is being held captive by the diabolical Witch Doctor (and later, space aliens). A full-on run-and-jump game, Higgins makes use of weapons such as a stone ax and fireballs in addition to skateboards for transportation, milk for energy, and in later games a collection of friendly dinosaur pals. Each level has a notoriously short time limit which can be slightly extended by collecting piece after piece of island fruit. Nevertheless, Higgins must keep moving and keep collecting fruit in order to finish each level before time runs out.
Four games were released for the NES (two of which were ported to the Game Boy), two new games were released for the Super NES, and one game made it to the TurboGrafx-16. The games of the Adventure Island series follow the same formula for every game with two exceptions: Adventure Island IV (which went unreleased outside of Japan) combined the familiar play mechanic with the style of Metroid in which Higgins backtracked across levels to gather new items and open new paths, while Super Adventure Island II crossed further into the action/RPG realm by equipping our hero with customizable swords, armor, and magic spells (all of which are quite out of place in a tropical island setting).
Master Higgins was retired after Super Adventure Island II (which was an average game at best), but what really needs to make a appearance from the Adventure Island canon is the fourth game in the series that was not released worldwide. Adventure Island IV infused a fresh direction into a rapidly graying series while retaining the best aspects of the character and original games. While a new Adventure Island game would be nice, Hudson is planning an Adventure Island collection for the Game Boy Advance in Japan featuring all four original NES games. Here's hoping they release it elsewhere as well. Master Higgins deserves a respectable final send-off.