When aliens kidnap Master Higgins girlfriend in Hudson Soft's 1992 Nintendo Entertainment System release Adventure Island III, it's up to him to travel across the island to rescue her. There are eight areas that need to be cleared in order to reach the alien menace. A UFO on the map screen represents the location of an area's boss, and as Higgins approaches the spaceship it will fly away and leave a boss behind. This third installment in the Adventure Island series is nearly identical to the last edition, Adventure Island II. The graphics, sounds, and music are virtually unchanged, the four dinosaur pals return to offer aid in the same ways that they did before, and Master Higgins can still throw a mean ax. So what's different? There are a few minor additions. Aside from the ax there's a new weapon available: the boomerang that can be thrown horizontally and then make a return swoop. Higgins cannot carry both weapons at once, however, so picking up one replaces the other. Spare weapons can still be stored in the inventory screen, luckily. Inside certain secret rooms are caches of fruit and an invincibily gem. There's also a new dinosaur around: a green tri-horned fella named Pokey (incidentially, the other dinos have also picked up names. Say hello to Blue Taylor, Red Taylor, Classy, and Don-don). Pokey's power is to roll up into a ball and slam into baddies, making him the only dinosaur with a ful-contact body attack. While the other dinosaurs are represented by card suits, Pokey's symbol is a white star.

Like previous games in the series Adventure Island III does not contain passwords or save game abilities. The game must be completed in one sitting if you plan to actually complete the game. Thank goodness for the secret stage select: at the title screen press Down, Up, Left, Right, B, A, B, A. If you want to skip the stage select trick and play the game straight through you can still cut some time off your total play session. Keep an eye out for secret rooms that contain large friendly dinosaurs that will offer to advance you to the next level automatically. Other secret rooms offer items, 1-ups, and tips. There's even a secret level in the game if you can locate it (hint: check out level 4).

Many fans of the series were angered that Hudson Soft didn't invest more time and innovativeness into this game. Nevertheless it's still a fun jungle romp for fans of the previous title and is definitely worth a look if you like side-scrolling platformer games. You're also more likely to find Adventure Island III in the used game bin than you are Adventure Island II. You can also keep an eye out for the Game Boy title Adventure Island II which is actually a port of this game. Master Higgins returned in an all-new, non-rehash quest in Adventure Island IV.

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