Meet Master Higgings, anorexia’s worst enemy.
The current trend: All of the old franchises from our childhood are making a comeback… for better or worse. Among the latest adopters of this trend is Hudson’s Adventure Island: The Beginning, a remake of the original Adventure Island, on Wiiware. And unfortunately, unlike other revivals, it’s one of the best examples of how to do a remake wrong.
[image1]Master Higgins makes a faux-3D (that is, 3D 2D or 2.5D) return in a side-scrolling platformer that does not stray too far from the original formula set plus twenty years ago. It’s a standard platformer, just like the waves and waves of similar games for NES and SNES, with a few particular differences: one is the persistent need to feed the hero with food found throughout the levels. This works as a continuously depleting meter on the top of the screen that needs to be kept full in order for the hero to survive the level. Luckily for him, food is everywhere, in the form of fruit and hunks of meat. There are special items in the form of golden melons as well, which can be traded in for an expanded ‘hunger’ meter at later levels in stores. It does not, however, throw the need to feed Higgins completely out the window.
Other bonuses include higher jumping and the ability to float. It’s not all that special and it’s not used often, and to be frank, the game’s not hard to begin with to warrant such upgrades. In fact, since the game’s already easy and continues to be so until the end, the more upgrades you buy (that, by the way, you cannot sell back or deactivate), the easier and more brainlessly boring it becomes.
[image2]There are four basic environments joined by an overworld map, each environment containing four sections, ranging in themes that all play just like the initial jungle stage and do not range in difficulty at all. Anything that is standing in your way can be knocked over by a variety of crude weapons found in eggs – yes, you read that right, eggs. Higgins has so much additional firepower from eggs, like boomerangs, axes, and spears, that it puts Yoshi to shame. You can even find a skateboard, just like the original game, which speeds up Higgins’ walking speed, but it doesn’t really do anything else beyond that.
The controls mainly use the NES-style sideways controller configuration – the Virtual Console apple doesn’t stray too far from the NES tree. Some mini-games try to mix that up, using some of the Wii-mote’s unique capabilities like tilt-sensing and on-screen aiming to break up the platforming. These mostly serve as a cheap way to pad an otherwise shallow main game and will mostly be fun only once.
[image3]Adding to the shallow game padding, there’s an Xbox Live Achievements-like system that rewards you cosmestic items like different caps and grass skirts for Higgins for performing specific feats in the game. None of these bonuses are substantial and only lengthen the artificial extension for an otherwise unimpressive revival.
There’s nothing here that will really pull new players into playing Adventure Island: The Beginning, other than nostalgia for an audience who is familiar with the name. That’s not to say the game is bad, but it shows that the developers poured in little effort into trying to attract a new audience. This is basically a prettier version of a game from the 1980’s, though the presentation is bland and there are other offerings that are vastly more interesting and prettier to look at on Wiiware, or even the older entries in the Adventure Island series available on the Virtual Console service. The Beginning will only satisfy your hunger for so far, pun intended.