Carribean and catchy, but maybe too repetitive for some.
Reader review by Jon Turner (2009-03-04)
The major attraction of Hudson's 1992 action platform game Super Adventure Island was its soundtrack, a collection of island funk beats, calypso-like tracks, and even some forms of hip-hop, all stretching the SNES's sound chip to its limits. It came as quite a surprise to gamers that the man responsible for the score was none other than Yuzo Koshiro, who had previously scored the symphonic masterpiece Actraiser. Many of the earlier Adventure Island games hadn't received much attention musically, but this entry was fortunate enough to get a soundtrack release from Alfa Records.
For gamers more familiar with Actraiser and Koshiro's other scores, such as Etrian Odyssey and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Super Adventure Island may come as a jarring change of pace. As mentioned, the music is of a dance and hip-hop nature, frequently underscored by a jaunty percussion ensemble of snare drums, slap cymbals and drum machine. Many of the game's earliest tracks are Carribean in tone, particularly "The Island of Everlasting Summer" (the longest track on the album), which is carried by both calypso steel drums and occasional bongo beats. From there, Koshiro runs wild with other styles of hip music while maintaining a consistent bounce for many of the tracks. The aptly named "Hop Step and Jazzy Beats" comes across as something one would hear at a dance party, while "Blue Blue Moon" veers toward blues territory. Probably the most impressive track of the bunch is "Darkside Visitor", which begins ominously with low chords, then progresses into a slow but catchy and sinister "final stage" sort of song. The score is capped off by "Hawaiian", complete with lazy steel guitars true to its name.
What ties these jaunty compositions together is the impressive sound programming. For an early video game soundtrack, it often veers impressively close to the sound quality of today's scores, a testament to the abilities of the SNES sound chip.
There is one major shortcoming that sometimes hampers Super Adventure Island's score. Though catchy, few tracks offer much in the way of compelling melodies, and many come across as repetitive. The problem is complicated by the album's surprisingly scanty running time of 29 minutes. The two fanfare tracks that close off the album fly by so quickly that it brings the entire thing to a grinding halt instead of a grand finish. As a result the album can feel somewhat unsatisfying, and doesn't have the aura of "instant classic" of, say, Actraiser.
Even so, for avid collectors of Koshiro's work, Super Adventure Island still offers about 25 minutes of high-quality dance tracks exuding creativity and fun. Not a masterpiece by any means, but enjoyable nonetheless, the album is well worth a listen.