Super Adventure Island is the first of two Adventure Island games for the SNES. It was first released in Japan by Hudson on January 11, 1992, then in America in April 1992, and finally in Europe on November 19, 1992.
The game opens with Master Higgins and his girlfriend Tina enjoying a romantic evening together in a treetop over Adventure Island. They are then confronted by the hooded sorcerer, Dark Cloak, when he flies in on a broomstick. Dark Cloak turns Tina into stone and kidnaps her, taking her to his castle on another part of the island. Master Higgins must then traverse five different sections of the island to rescue Tina from Dark Cloak.
The game consists mainly of a side-scrolling action platformer gameplay, with some stages that are more vertically-oriented. Super Adventure Island features fewer weapons than some previous entries in the series. A stone axe and a boomerang are both available; both may be upgraded to fire up to three shots at a time, and a fourth upgrade gives those shots more power. The game also downgrades the available vehicles that may be used in platforming sections: while Adventure Island 3 on the NES had several different dinosaurs which could be ridden, Super Adventure Island offers and occasional skateboard that lets Master Higgins travel through levels at high speed. As usual, Master Higgins can be taken down in one hit from an enemy. He also has a stamina bar that decreases over time, which must be constantly replenished by grabbing fruit which is bountiful in each level.
The game is broken up into five main areas, each containing several sub-levels. The main areas mostly have two stylistic environments, and feature a boss at the end. The five areas are:
- A jungle and a volcano
- A beach and inside a whale's belly
- In island treetops and a mine shaft (complete with mine cart ride)
- A desert
- A snow-capped mountain ice level, finishing with Dark Cloak's secret castle
Many stages also contain secret bonus stages where Master Higgins enters a neon-lit nightscape filled with fruit and weapons.
Mode 7 Graphics
As a game released early in the life cycle of the SNES, Super Adventure Island makes copious use of that system's Mode 7 graphics capabilities. Each of the levels have parallax-scrolling backgrounds and some use of layered colors. Before the first stage begins, the game opens with a brief cinematic of a Master Higgins sprite being rotated and scaled to large size, to give the effect that he is falling from the sky. The game also had a multi-instrumental stereo soundtrack, which showcased the SNES's critically-acclaimed sound chip, made for the system by Sony.