The other Turbografx platforming star is another caveman. The console certainly wasn’t living in the past back in the early 90’s, I guess they just loved those prehistoric duds, though New Adventure Island is certainly no dinosaur today. Because of the title, it shall always be new, just like New Super Mario Bros., or New Style Boutique!
New Adventure Island differs from the other caveman Turbografx 16 mascot platformer Bonk’s Adventure by being part of an already established series. It takes a few entries before the word ‘New’ can be stuck onto the title, and the NES and Game Boy saw a handful of games, each iteration more refined than the last.
The first Adventure Island is all about running to the end of each stage whilst collecting fruit to stay alive, chucking axes at any enemies that attempt to get in your way. It was a brutally difficult game, with obscene pixel perfect jumps, something which the sequel attempted to rectify by providing a number of animal buddies to ride or fly, though this made the game too much of an island hopping cakewalk. Come New Adventure Island and we have a game which hits the right balance, making for one of the Turbografx 16’s must have games, purging the animal buddies in place of real fixes to the level design.
With chunky visuals, numerous audio hookworms, and tight controls, New Adventure Island is one of those games which just feels so right. When everything comes together to make one satisfying whole, it’s hard not to smile. Levels feature more slopes and obstacles compared to the flat plains of Bonk’s Adventure, with the constant need to run and grab fruit for the ever decreasing health meter always ensuring the game has a snappy pace. Very rarely are you required to stand still thanks to the momentum carefully built from item placement, enemy placement and jumping challenges, making it feeling speedier than the average Sonic.
In fact New Adventure Island feels like the precursor to the endless runner. You always need to keep moving thanks to the health bar always dropping, combat is reflex focused, as are jumps. It isn’t about careful prevision as seen in Mario, nor is it about brawling for goodies as seen in Bonk’s Adventure, it’s simply a game which only stops when the world boss appears, a terrifying human figure wearing an animal head. Throw away the directional controls in place of auto running and it wouldn’t really be a different game.
When people think endless runners, they typically think of those cheap mobile games, I certainly do, but with New Adventure Island, think more Bit Trip Runner, think 2 Fast 4 Gnomes. There are the games which have taken New Adventure Island’s concept and made it their own, but as it stands, this Turbografx 16 platformer stands above them all.