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Adventure Island, also known as Hudson's Adventure Island, known as Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima (高橋名人の冒険島, "Master Takahashi's Adventure Island") in Japan, is the first game from the Adventure Island series, a side-scrolling platform game produced by Hudson Soft that was first released in Japan for the Famicom and MSX on September 12, 1986. It was later released in North America for the Nintendo Entertainment System on September 1988 and in the PAL region in 1992 under the title of Adventure Island Classic.
Adventure Island began development as a direct port of the Sega arcade game Wonder Boy, to which Hudson Soft obtained the rights from developer Escape (later known as Westone Bit Entertainment). During the development of the port, the decision was made to change the character design of the protagonist, modeling him and naming him after Hudson Soft's spokesman Takahashi Meijin. In the western version of Adventure Island, the Takahashi Meijin character was renamed Master Higgins.
The player controls Master Higgins, a young man who ventured to Adventure Island in the South Pacific after hearing that the Evil Witch Doctor kidnapped Princess Leilani. Although she is referred as Princess Leilani in the English version's manual, the character is identified at the end of the game and both in the Japanese version and the original Wonder Boy as Tina. The Evil Witch Doctor may also be alternatively known as King Quiller, although this is not made clear in the game manual which lists it as a separate mystery enemy. Their names would be largely standardized in later localizations. To rescue her, Higgins must survive a series of 32 stages. There are eight worlds called "areas", which are divided four stages or "rounds" each, which are further divided into four checkpoints. When the player reaches the fourth round of each area, he must confront a boss at the end to continue to the next area. The game is completed when the player saves the girl after defeating the eighth and final form of the evil lord.
- For additional details, see Wonder Boy.
Master Higgins (the player character) loses a life whenever he touches an enemy, an enemy's attack or a fire roast, or when he falls into a pitfall or a body of water. Moreover, the player also has a health gauge that starts out with 11 points, which gradually depletes over time or whenever Higgins trips on a rock in his path. When Higgins' health gauge reaches zero, he will lose a life as well. If Higgins still has extra lives left, he will revive at the last checkpoint he passed through. The game ends when all of Higgins' lives runs out. To replenish his health, Higgins can pick up numerous fruits (or a milk bottle) on his path (his maximum health reaches up to 13 points). When the player's score reaches 50,000 points, 100,000 points, and 200,000 points, Higgins will receive an extra life. Finding a bee-like fairy known as Honey Girl will grant Higgins invincibility for fifteen seconds and allow him to kill enemies with a single touch. Also hidden somewhere in each stage is a special pot, which, when collected, gives the player a bonus, effectively doubling their stage score.
Higgins starts off each life without the ability to attack and can only gain the ability to attack by picking up a stone axe, which can be found in specific spots in each stage. When Higgins is wielding the stone axe, he can trade it for magical fireballs that have longer range and are capable of destroying rocks and rolling stones (which are invulnerable to the stone axe).
To break an egg, the player must touch it or hit with a weapon twice. In addition to weapons, there are numerous bonus items stuck inside. There is also a negative item, the "eggplant", which drains Higgins' life meter. Some of the eggs are not immediately visible in plain sight. The locations of these "hidden eggs" are usually indicated when a weapon thrown by a player disappears before falling to the ground and are uncovered by jumping at the indicated spot. Some of these hidden spots don't contain hidden eggs, but instead a cloud that will warp the player to a bonus stage, which is instead uncovered by standing still for a short period of time. At the bonus stages, the player can collect a series of fruits (each worth 500 points regardless of the type) until Higgins falls into a pitfall. However, instead of losing a life, he will return to the regular stage at the next checkpoint.
At the fourth round of each area, Higgins will confront a different form of the Evil Witch Doctor, the game's boss character. He has the ability to change his head by up to eight different types. Higgins must defeat him by striking his head a specific amount of times with his weapon. The number of hits required to defeat him increases with each area (his first form requires eight hits and every subsequent form requires two additional hits until the eighth and final form, which requires 22 hits). When the Evil Witch Doctor is defeated, he will change his head and escape to the next area. He uses the same attack in each form, with the only thing that changes besides his durability are his mobility speed and the speed of his fireball attacks. When Higgins defeats his final form, the Evil Witch Doctor will fall into a pit and the girl will be rescued.
The NES version of Adventure Island was re-released in Japan for the Game Boy Advance as a Famicom Mini title on May 21, 2004. It was later re-released internationally for the Virtual Console service in 2008 for the Wii and in 2014 for the Wii U. It is also part of the Japanese exclusive Hudson Best Collection Vol 6: Bōken Jima Collection, released for Game Boy Advance in 2006.
A remake was developed for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube titled Hudson Selection Vol. 4: Takahashi Meijin no Bōken Jima, which was released exclusively in Japan on December 18, 2003.