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Retro Review: Super Adventure Island II

On 11/25/2023 at 11:00 AM by The Last Ninja

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This sequel has a little bit of everything—does it all work? 

The Adventure Island series started on the NES. You played as Higgins, who was usually trying to save his girlfriend Tina from disaster. Then the series jumped onto the SNES in 1992 with Super Adventure Island (you can read my review here). It’s a very straightforward game. Well, jump to 1994 and we have Super Adventure Island II, which is nothing like its predecessor. Developed by Make Software, Inc. and published by Hudson, this game borrows a lot of elements from other games and genres. 

The story goes that Master Higgins and his wife Tina are on their honeymoon. They’re traveling the ocean on a small raft (couldn’t they get a boat?). Suddenly—you knew this would happen—a storm shows up and they are separated. When Higgins wakes up, he’s on an island and can’t remember anything. Tina wakes up on a different island, can’t remember anything, and is quickly engaged to the king of the land! So it’s double amnesia, AND Tina is getting married for the second time, AND Higgins has to find out what’s going on. But the story isn’t over. Tina also gets captured by the evil wizard, so the king asks Higgins to rescue her. It’s all so ridiculous, and over the course of the game, Higgins talks to Tina in visions and she says, “Y’know, you look familiar.” LOL 

pic 1

Waku-waku Island is a hub world of sorts. You can talk to the king, sleep at the inn, and from there sail out to different islands on the overworld. While on the overworld, Higgins can be attacked via random encounters (Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest). These are mostly annoying because you will just have to move left or right and deal with some enemies along the way. Sometimes the enemies will drop coins or health potions, but the random encounters usually felt like useless moments of gameplay. Over the course of the game, you will have to get specific stones, and these stones can be used to open new areas. It was actually a very satisfying gameplay loop. 

When you finally start playing a “level,” you will discover that it’s quite large and very non-linear. You can even open the start menu and look at a map. This most closely resembles Sega’s Wonder Boy games, but I couldn’t help but compare it to today’s Metroidvanias. That’s right, the levels are large and interconnected, forcing you to explore. As you do so, you’ll see transparent blocks in certain places. Find the room with that specific symbol (sun, moon, star, etc.) and then activate the switch. Now those blocks are solid, opening up new areas. Sometimes you have to push a large lever that shifts something in the level. The different worlds are quite typical: tropical island, water land, ice land, volcano, and Egyptian themed desert world. 

pic 2

Higgins can attack, jump, and use magic. Your main weapon is a sword, and as you progress, you will find swords that are more powerful in certain worlds (fire sword, ice sword, etc.). You can also find weapons such as the boomerang, daggers, and axes. You can also find and equip different sets of armor and shields (Final Fantasy again). You can also find life bottles, which are literally heart containers to upgrade your HP (Legend of Zelda), as well as magic bottles, which allow you to use magic spells. The game has a surprising amount of magic spells, some of which are very useful. 

The level design is very good. Enemy placement can be a pain, and they respawn the moment you leave the screen and return, but actions such as activating something or pushing a block down will remain permanent, even if you leave the world and come back. The Egyptian world has a section where you jump onto a platform that follows a track that winds around while enemies float close by (major Mega Man vibes). The bosses aren’t great. On one hand, they’re very simple and easy. On the other hand, they take way too many hits to kill. 

pic 3

But the worst part of the game is easily the casino. There are four games you can play, such as Slots and Horse Racing (except instead of horses it’s monsters from the game). However, these are truly chance-based games, and you’ll probably lose a lot. The problem is that the casino is the only place where you can get the most powerful armor, sword, and shield in the game! So if you’re a completionist, you will have to play these games for a loooooong time before you can afford these items (which are very expensive). 

It seems that Hudson was aiming at a younger audience with this game. It’s not too difficult, and the animations are quite simple, but the levels are very good, and the gameplay is quite satisfying. The final boss can be difficult, so I can see a lot of kids getting stuck on him. Also, the music here is very good. This time Yuzo Koshiro did not compose the music, so they brought in some other guys, and they did a great job. Most the time the music is very upbeat and enjoyable. I’ll put a couple of my favorite songs below. 

pic 4

Final Verdict—4 Stars: Recommended 

Even though this game is all over the place with mechanics, I think it’s better than the first game. Sure, the random encounters are stupid, but the gameplay at its core is solid, and the level design is excellent. I found myself enjoying this one, and wanting to see the ending. Unfortunately, it was only ever re-released on the Wii Virtual Console (which is now no longer available), meaning that if you want to play it, you’ll have to buy the cartridge, and it’s quite pricey. Still, I think that SAI 2 is one of those overlooked gems on the SNES, so if you get the chance, give it a try. 



Cary Woodham

11/26/2023 at 08:17 PM

I never played the sequel because it was never available to rent at my local video and game rental place, but the first one was and I rented that a few times.  I loved Yuzo Koshiro's music in the first one.

The Last Ninja

11/27/2023 at 01:22 AM

Yuzo Koshiro never disappoints (except for Beyond Oasis, that OST was surprisingly bland for being composed by Koshiro). 


12/01/2023 at 12:41 PM

Looks interesting. I will not overlook it if I get a chance to buy it for a resonable price. 

The Last Ninja

12/01/2023 at 05:13 PM

You should get it, but it usually goes for about $120. That's what I paid at least

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