The History of Hudson’s Adventure Island

hudsonbee The History of Hudsons Adventure Island NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotRead the review for Hudson’s Adventure Island NES game, providing further information on the creation of Master Higgins and his real-life counterpart, Takahashi Meijin.

Hudson’s Adventure Island series has one of the most complex and easily confused histories of any line of games to appear on Nintendo’s 8-bit system. Eventually ported to nine different platforms (excluding rereleases, such as those on the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console), the original Adventure Island was a graphically altered version of Sega’s 1986 arcade hit, Wonder Boy.

All titles in red link to images captured from the version being discussed. The image gallery for Hudson’s Adventure Island may be found here.

Wonder Boy 1986, Arcade

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Later that same year, Sega produced a home version of Wonder Boy for their aging console, the SG-1000, released in 1983. The SG-1000 port was a valiant attempt to bring the arcade experience home, but by 1986, the console’s hardware was hopelessly outdated compared to the power  of the coin-op’s. The game suffered immensely because of this, as the graphics flickered constantly and slowed down with seemingly little cause. The game’s horizontal screen scrolling is choppy and jarring, and often ruins any sense of timing while jumping between platforms. The SG-1000’s Wonder Boy has also been cut down to five stages (from the 32 stages present in the arcade version). The skateboard is missing, and every level has at least one area that, if entered, will glitch the game’s graphics and crash the game (pictured in the gallery).

Wonder Boy 1986, Sega SG-1000

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Escape (later known as WestOne), the developer that produced the original Wonder Boy for Sega, also granted rights to the game and the use of its FAMI TITLE The History of Hudsons Adventure Island NES Nintendo Review Screenshotcharacters to Hudson. Hudson produced a Famicom port which closely mimicked the look and play of the original. Though the characters had been changed, the music completely altered (arguably for the better), and the graphics somewhat downgraded, the gameplay was kept completely intact, unlike the other ports released through 1986 and the computer ports in 1987. A GameBoy game titled Adventure Island was released in 1992 worldwide, though its title is somewhat a misnomer, as it is a handheld monochromatic port of the NES 1991 followup game, Adventure Island II. Oddly enough, the Famicom port would not see a PAL release until 1992. Despite the new title featured on the PAL territory’s packaging, “Adventure Island Classic,” the only alteration made to the game itself was in the “small print” of the title screen: the new name never appears during the game.

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It is important to note that though Adventure Island and Wonder Boy are essentially the same game, each game spawned its own, very different, series. While WestOne followed up Wonder Boy with Wonder Boy in Monster Land, an action RPG, Hudson’s Adventure Island II kept the platforming gameplay largely the same as the original while making huge upgrades to the graphics and sound. The Famicom only release of Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima IV (Hudson, 1994) and AdvIslandClassic Box 188x266 The History of Hudsons Adventure Island NES Nintendo Review Screenshotthe Super NES Super Adventure Island II (Hudson, 1995) are more comparable to the later Wonder Boy games than they are later Adventure Island games.

Hudson also released a port in 1986 to the MSX, a computer popular in Japan and Europe through the 1980s. This version suffers from many of the same problems that the SG-1000 port does. The graphics have a decent amount of color in them, but horizontal screen scrolling is still choppy, causing many headaches while trying to jump as the screen is moving. The game has only a quarter of the number of levels as the arcade version, and the oversimplification of enemy sprites renders many of them unrecognizable. The game does control reasonably well, however, and the main music is largely kept intact.

Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima
高橋名人の冒険島 / Master Takahashi’s Adventure Island
1986, MSX

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In 1987, Activision released ports of Wonder Boy to three popular 8-bit computers: the Amstrad CPC, the Commodore 64, and the ZX Spectrum. All three versions are plagued with the horrendous load time common to computer games of the era (each of the three ports must load for several minutes before the game can be played).

The graphics in the C64 and the CPC versions appear nearly identical in static screenshots, but for the better use of color in the CPC version. The major difference between them lies in the C64’s ability to smoothly scroll the screen, though the CPC version’s scrolling isn’t nearly as poor as it is in the MSX and the SG-1000 versions. The ZX Spectrum graphics are extremely detailed but monochromatic, making it impossible at times to discern enemies and objects from the backdrops. It also slows down with any movement on screen.

Wonder Boy 1987, Amstrad CPC

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The music on the C64 is relatively close to the arcade machine’s music, though the Amstrad and Spectrum renditions of the main song are awful, repeating the same off-key loop ad nauseum.

Wonder Boy 1987, Commodore 64

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The C64 version is the most accurate of Activision’s three computer ports. While the CPC and Spectrum games are excessively difficult due to their technical quirks, the C64 is more forgiving and easier to beat than any of the other ports. The ZX Spectrum version is impossible to finish when the machine is in 128k mode (though this mode is recommended by the publisher for access to all features), as the graphics at the beginning of 1-4 corrupt themselves and crash the game. The game can be finished in 48k mode, however.

Wonder Boy 1987, ZX Spectrum

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The most accurate home versions by far, Sega’s self-produced Sega Master System and Game Gear ports are excellent. The graphics are vibrant and large, and contain most of the details featured in their arcade counterparts. The music is somewhat tinnier and more hollow than the coin-op’s, but does extremely well considering the inherent limitations of the SMS’s sound chip. Sega’s ports of Wonder Boy also featured eight extra stages beyond what the arcade edition offered (Stages 4-1 through 4-4, and 8-1 through 8-4), raising the number of levels from 32 to 40. These levels are well-designed and keep in spirit with the originals, but they do further extend the length of an already extremely long game. The controls on both ports are also excellent, though the Game Gear controls tend to feel more solid.

Wonder Boy (US, EU)
Super Wonder Boy (JP)
1987, Sega Master System / Mark III

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Revenge of Drancon (US)
Wonder Boy (EU, JP)
1991, Sega Game Gear

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A reimagining of the original NES Adventure Island with brand new graphics and sound was released in 2004 for phones capable of running the DoCoMo JAVA application environment profile, featuring brand new graphics and sound. The new music is catchy, though very different from the source’s, and the graphics are well done, being comparable to those on 16-bit machines (though it seems that Master Higgins has lost his eyelids since his last adventure!). The game is extremely short and easy, but a respectable port for such unlikely hardware.

Adventure Island 2004, Mobile Phone

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Both Wonder Boy and the Adventure Island saw numerous followups to the original games  of their respective series. The future of the series is uncertain, owing to Konami‘s absorption of all of Hudson‘s remaining assets following the lamentable dissolution of the company in March of 2012. Considering the classic publisher’s reprehensible treatment of the beloved icon Bomberman in the 2006 Konami published Bomberman: Act Zero, it might indeed be best to lay Master Higgins to rest, leaving his 8 and 16 bit era triumphs as proud symbols of a company that once sat among the superstars of the video gaming world.

 

Core Games and Ports / Remakes

Title System Developer Publisher Released
Wonder Boy Arcade Escape Sega 1986
Wonder Boy Sega SG-1000 (JP) Sega Sega 1986
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima Famicom (JP) Hudson Hudson 1986
Wonder Boy Deluxe (PIRATE) Arcade Escape Sega 1986
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima MSX (JP) Hudson Hudson 1986
Wonder Boy Sega Master System (US/EU) Escape Sega 1987
Super Wonder Boy Sega Mark III (JP) Sega Sega 1987
Wonder Boy Sinclair ZX Spectrum Activision Activision 1987
Wonder Boy Commodore 64/128 Activision Activision 1987
Wonder Boy Amstrad CPC Activision Activision 1987
Wonder Boy in
Monster Land
Arcade Escape Sega 1987
Adventure Island NES (US) Hudson Hudson 1988
Revenge of Drancon Sega Game Gear (US) Sega Sega 1991
Wonder Boy Sega Game Gear (EU/JP) Sega Sega 1991
Adventure Island Classic NES (EU) Hudson Hudson 1992

 

Hudson’s Adventure Island
Followups / Sequels / Remakes

Title System Developer Publisher Released
Takahashi-meijin no
Bug-tte Honey
Famicom (JP) Hudson Hudson 1987
Adventure Island II NES (US) Now Production Hudson 1991
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima II Famicom (JP) Now Production Hudson 1991
The Adventure Island
Part II
NES (AU) Now Production Mattel 1992
The Adventure Island
Part II
NES (EU) Now Production Hudson 1992
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima III Famicom (JP) Hudson Hudson 1992
Adventure Island 3 NES (US) Hudson Hudson 1992
Adventure Island GameBoy (US/EU/AU) Hudson Hudson 1992
Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima II GameBoy (JP) Hudson Hudson 1992
Kiki Inland Gamate (EU/Taiwan) ? Bit Corp 1992
New Adventure Island TurboGrafx 16 (US) Now Production NEC 1992
Takahashi-meijin no Shinboukenjima PC Engine (JP) Now Production Hudson 1992
Takahashi-meijin no Daiboukenjima Super Famicom (JP) Produce Hudson 1992
Super Adventure Island Super Nintendo (US/EU) Produce Hudson 1992
Adventure Island II GameBoy (EU) Hudson Hudson 1993
Adventure Island II: Aliens in Paradise GameBoy (US) Hudson Hudson 1993
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima III GameBoy (JP) Hudson Hudson 1993
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima IV Famicom (JP) Hudson Hudson 1994
Super Adventure Island II Super Nintendo (US/EU) Make Hudson 1994
Takahashi-meijin no Daiboukenjima II Super Famicom (JP) Make Hudson 1995
Adventure Island Mobile (US) Flying Tiger Development Hudson 2004
Famicom Mini: Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima GameBoy Advance (JP) Hudson Hudson 2004
Adventure Island Mobile (US) Flying Tiger Development Hudson 2004
Takahashi-meijin no Shinboukenjima Wii Virtual Console (JP) Now Production Hudson 2006
New Adventure Island Wii Virtual Console (US/EU) Now Production Hudson 2007
New Adventure Island Wii Virtual Console (AU) Now Production Nintendo 2007
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima Wii Virtual Console (JP) Hudson Hudson 2008
Hudson’s Adventure Island Wii Virtual Console (US/KO) Hudson Hudson 2008
Hudson’s Adventure Island Wii Virtual Console (EU) Hudson Nintendo 2008
Adventure Island: The Beginning Wii (US/EU) Hudson Hudson 2009
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima Wii (JP) Hudson Hudson 2009
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima II Wii Virtual Console (JP) Now Production Hudson 2011
Adventure Island II Wii Virtual Console (US/EU) Now Production Hudson 2011
Adventure Island 3DS Virtual Console (US/EU/AU) Hudson Hudson 2011
Takahashi-meijin no Boukenjima II 3DS Virtual Console (JP) Hudson Hudson 2011
Super Adventure Island Wii Virtual Console (US) Produce Hudson 2011
Super Adventure Island Wii Virtual Console (EU) Produce Nintendo 2011
Takahashi-meijin no Daiboukenjima Wii Virtual Console (JP) Produce Hudson 2011
Super Adventure Island II Wii Virtual Console (US) Make Hudson 2011
Super Adventure Island II Wii Virtual Console (EU) Make Nintendo 2011
Takahashi-meijin no Daiboukenjima II Wii Virtual Console (JP) Make Hudson 2011

 

Wonder Boy
Followups / Sequels / Remakes

Title System Developer Publisher Released
Wonder Boy in Monster Land Sega Master System(US/EU) Sega Sega 1988
Super Wonder Boy: Monster World Sega Mark III (JP) Sega Sega 1988
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair Arcade Escape Sega 1988
Monica no Castelo do Dragao Sega Master System (SA) TecToy TecToy 1989
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap Sega Master System (US/EU) Sega Sega 1989
Wonder Boy III:
Monster Lair
PC-Engine CD-ROM² (JP) Alfa System Hudson 1989
Monster Lair Sega Mega Drive (JP) Aicom Sega 1990       
Monster Lair TurboGrafx CD (US) Alfa System NEC 1990
Adventure Island PC Engine (JP) Hudson Hudson 1991
Dragon’s Curse TurboGrafx 16 (US) Hudson Hudson 1991
Wonder Boy III:
Monster Lair
Sega Mega Drive (EU) Aicom Sega 1991
Wonder Boy V: Monster World III Sega Mega Drive (JP) Sega Sega 1991
Wonder Boy:
The Dragon’s Trap
Sega Game Gear (EU) Sega Sega 1992
Monster World II: Dragon no Wana Sega Game Gear (JP) Sega Sega 1992
Wonder Boy in
Monster World
Sega Mega Drive (EU/AU) Sega Sega 1992
Wonder Boy in
Monster World
Sega Genesis Sega Sega 1992
Turma da Monica em O Resgate Sega Master System (SA) TecToy TecToy 1993
Monster World IV Sega Mega Drive (JP) Sega Sega 1994
Turma da Monica na Terra Dos Monstros Sega Master System (SA) TecToy TecToy 1996
Super Adventure Island Mobile (US) Hudson Hudson 2005
Wonder Boy in Monster World Wii Virtual Console (US/EU/JP) Sega Sega 2007
Sega Ages 2500 Series #29: Monster World Complete Collection PlayStation 2 (JP) M2 Sega 2007
Wonder Boy in Monster Land Wii Virtual Console (US/EU) Sega Sega 2009
Super Wonder Boy: Monster World Wii Virtual Console (JP) Sega Sega 2009
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap Wii Virtual Console (US/EU/AU) Sega Sega 2009
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair Wii Virtual Console (US/EU/JP) Aicom Sega 2009
Monster World IV PlayStation 3 (US/JP) Sega Sega 2012
Monster World IV Wii Virtual Console (US/EU/JP) Sega Sega 2012
Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World XBox 360 (US/EU/AU) M2 Sega 2012
Monster World Collection XBox 360 (JP) M2 Sega 2012