Blast from the Past: Adventure Island (Gameboy)




I have a long-standing love/hate relationship with the Adventure Island games. It started many years ago at the arcade, where I’d unload 50 cent piece after 50 cent piece trying to beat the game. I was hooked on this wonderfully addictive and fun game, yet could not finish it. After seeing Adventure Island on the 3DS virtual console, I decided to revisit the hazardous islands as Master Higgins yet again.

The Gameboy version of Adventure Island isn’t actually the first game in the series, but rather the second, Adventure Island II. Why the sequel was ported to the Gameboy is beyond me, but, fortunately, it’s just as much fun as the first game.

Saving the Princess

Master Higgins is now adventuring in what looks like a prehistoric location. An evil witch doctor has kidnapped Princess Leilani’s sister, Tina, and you need to save her. That’s pretty much the story. Nothing new or original, but that was never the strong point of Adventure Island.

Adventure Island 3

The game is mainly a platformer that forces you to be both skillful and resource-minded. It’s is split up into eight sections, with each section having about five levels and a boss. In each level, you’ll need to run and jump to safety and throw an axe or two to kill enemies. You can also find little eggs that contain skateboards (to help you move faster) and dinosaurs, which can be used to attack, fly or swim with.

So where’s the challenge?

While you run around the level and throw your axe, you deplete your life gauge. You can fill it up by eating fruit found throughout the stage, but you still need to be careful if you don’t want to lose a life. The level layout is also a challenge, some cliffs require you to leap at the very last step to make it to the edge of the next cliff. Sometimes you’ll even have to contend with a flying enemy mid-jump. It’s very tricky and requires precise movements, which leads me to the next challenging aspect of the game – the controls.

adventure island

It’s a fairly simple control set-up: d-pad to move, A to jump and B to fire an axe or to run. However, there’s a slight give when jumping and landing, and that’s the hard part. Some sections of the game require pin-point accuracy so even just a little give may cause you to fall into a pit. Figuring that out is one of the main ways for you to succeed. The good news is, you have the restore point system at your disposal and it really will help you.

The look and sound

What took me by surprise was how well the game looked and ran on the Gameboy system. There’s a lot of detail in this black and white title, both in the sprite work and the background images. It’s not as fantastic as the colourful arcade version I grew to love (and hate), but it was nice to see something fit well within the handheld. The music however, was not to my taste. It didn’t always match the area and didn’t add much to the atmosphere of the game.


All-in-all, Adventure Island for the Gameboy wasn’t a bad game. It wasn’t the original Adventure Island I was expecting, but it was a fun game to play. It’s a little longer than I expected, taking me about 3 hours to complete, so there’s a little meat to the game. It’s also not very pricey for a virtual console game. If you’re a fan of old arcade games, you might want to give it a go.


  • Fun | Challenging | Black and White Visuals | Dinosaurs


  • Music | Easy Boss Battles


Arm yourself with an axe and a loincloth, we’re going adventuring.


Gameplay - 7
Visuals - 7
Audio - 4
Gratification - 6
Value for money - 8

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