Adventure Island II is obviously a sequel to Hudson's Adventure Island and picks up right where the last one left off. Yes, it seems that the Evil Which Doctor hasn't given up yet, and although Princess Leilani may be safe, her sister Tina isn't. Our unfriendly doctor has stolen her away and hidden himself within a chain of eight deadly islands, all full of his monstrous creations.
Playing the part of Master Higgins, a chubby little fellow in a grass skirt and baseball cap, your journey will include travel through the isles, battling the doctors creatures armed only with a hand axe. You'll occasionally be helped out by your fireball-spewing-thrashing or rock-dropping dinosaur friends.
You start your quest with three lives, your hat and a skirt on your hips. All other items must be found as you travel throughout the islands. Food appears around you as different fruits, which must be eaten to keep your energy level up. You lose energy over time and whenever you stumble over an obstacle in your path. Enemies that contact you don't drain energy; however, they will defeat you with one touch. Other items, such as your axe, skateboards and friendly dinosaurs, as well as hidden warp areas, bonus areas or secret rooms, are all found within eggs that either lay about or are occasionally dropped by one of the doctor's creatures when it is defeated.
When first entering an area of the island, a menu of sorts is presented that will allow you to select which items you would like to use in that area. Some of your dinosaur accomplices aren't able to travel in water, for example, so you can select another better suited for the environment. As eggs are collected, you can increase your extra aces for later stages. Each time you die, all of your current possessions are lost. Using these items, you must run, jump and sometimes fly through each stage, all the while either avoiding or defeating the monsters in your path.
The stages themselves are basically made up of jungle, underwater, snowy and desert landscapes, with a few variations. Many of the landscapes are similar from island to island, and except for enemy placements, there isn't quite as much variety as one might expect with nine to 14 possible areas on each island. At the end of each island is a boss creature that must be killed -- of course -- before you can progress to the next island.
If you've played the first Adventure Island or are familiar with the first few Wonder Boy games, this game will be familiar in its gameplay and even in some of the strategies involved. Only one player may compete in this game, and unlimited continues are available. However, when continuing, your game starts over back at the first stage of the island that you are currently on, without any of the items that you have collected. (The only exception is if you have acquired the hidden Hudson Bee, which will let you keep your items by simply holding left and pressing start.) A level select is available, though don't count on it to make the game much easier. Some islands simply can't be traversed unless you have at the very least a weapon at your side.
Overall, what makes this game interesting is the gameplay -- it keeps you coming back for more. The graphics are average, as is the music, but they are good enough so that they don't really detract from the game much. Adventure Island II has enough challenge to keep even better players working for a while in their quest to defeat the doctor.