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Adventure Island II
One of the most underrated gaming series' of all-time has to be Adventure Island. While the games can be seen as Super Mario clones they are anything but clones, containing harder difficulty, unique power-ups and great level designs.
Adventure Island II is the sequel to the highly successful Adventure Island and once again has you taking on the role of Master Higgins trying to save his kidnapped girlfriend Tina across eight different islands.
Adventure Island II's presentation is highly similar to its predecessor (which is ok) but it is the gameplay where this game comes into its own. Adventure Island II feels much more like an adventure than the first game. The game contains a colourful overworld map showing each of the islands (as well as detailed maps of each individual island) creating a greater sense of exploration than the first game.
Adventure Island II still contains the same core gameplay of collecting food and breaking open eggs to collect power-ups (if it ain't broke don't fix it) but with some great new additions. Firstly, the game has a continue feature which is great because due to the high difficulty of the game you will need it. It also makes the game feel less cheap than the first Adventure Island and gives you a fairer chance of completing the game. The second great addition is the dinosaur allies you meet during the game who once hatched help you in saving Tina. Each of the dinosaur's have a different attack when ridden by Master Higgin's but you have to be careful because if they are hit once they disapper creating a sense of strategy to the gameplay and use of the dinosaurs.
In terms of difficulty, the game is difficult but not as hard as the first game due to the continue option and the overall level design as well as the ability to store power-ups which then can be chosen for use at the start of the level. The boss fights are great fun and have lots of variety as do each of the eight island levels. The presentation of the game is great with great colourful graphics and brilliant 8-bit music which really creates a fun overall experience.
To conclude, Adventure Island II is one of the best overall platforming experiences on the NES besides Super Mario Bros. With great power-ups, challenging but fun gameplay, as well as brilliant presentation Adventure Island II needs to appreciated as one of the best games on the NES (as well as one of the best sequels of all-time). The game has been re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console meaning everyone can play this classic cult platformer once more and give it the love it deserves.