Princess Tomato In The Salad Kingdom
Everyone should eat their vegetables.
But after playing Princess Tomato In The Salad Kingdom, you could be forgiven for never wanting to look at one ever again.
This game is ALL vegetables from start to finish.
Released for the Famicom in 1988 and then for the NES three years later, the game was developed by Hudson Soft and was a text adventure and point-and-click mash-up type of game where a selection of still (or barely moving) images are linked by a “save the princess” plot and various functions you can toy around with like “MOVE”, “TAKE”, “TALK” etc.
So that’s the plot, in a nutshell.
Did you get all that?
Already that’s way too much veggies for my liking. You could literally delete all the vegetable names from that plot and it would still make sense so there’s no need for them, really. I would also replace the word “kidnaped” with “kidnapped” since I’m pretty sure that’s how you spell it.
The story develops a little in the opening as King Broccoli dies (a sad day for all of us), Farmies (armies with an “F” added in for hilarity) are sent by Minister Pumpkin to terrorize the Salad Kingdom and you, Sir Cucumber, are tasked with taking him down which could lead you to marry the princess whose hand was promised to you by the dying king.
This is gonna be a long, literally fruitless journey, isn’t it?
Though tomatoes are technically fruits so I guess maybe not completely fruitless.
The first character you encounter is a persimmon baby who wants some water so you walk until you find a river and bring him back something to drink. He then gives you some useful information, as characters who get what they want in these games tend to do.
It’s weird, it’s like the game is constantly really happy to namedrop various fruits and vegetables like they’re celebrities.
Well I’m glad you’re excited, game, but these edible fellows mean nothing to me.
You sink so deep into the world of fruits and vegetables in this game that, when a human does show up, it’s actually really odd. You’d think they’d become the main character but no, you remain in control of Sir Cucumber the whole way through.
I’ll admit, however, that the game’s sense of humour does work sometimes.
Yeah, for one thing: the guy running it is A FRIGGIN’ PEAR!
So many random things happen in this game that I was bound to enjoy it eventually. By the end, I was pretty much sold on the idea of a relentlessly vegetarian game even if, initially, its one big joke felt worthless and tiresome.
For one thing, you can easily take some screenshots from the game and place them out of context thereby making the events depicted in the game sound way more disturbing than they were originally meant to:
See what I mean?
Some of the intentional jokes, though, are just plain baffling:
The “cherry birds”?!
How is that funny?
Why cherries of all things?
Wouldn’t bananas have made more sense? At least the banana skin could have acted as wings or something. Plus there’s some sort of alliteration there. Instead of just showing us cherries and adding in tiny angel wings around them and calling them birds!
I prefer when the game is knowingly going off-track into either darker or more over-the-top territory like the time Sir Cucumber joins the resistance:
Or the time he wanders into a cabaret:
It’s like the game is meant for young kids but kind of wants to go its own, more adult-friendly way but that Hudson Soft bee keeps buzzing it back into submission.
There are bosses you “fight” in this game, believe it or not, and that’s when it gets somewhat more animated as you battle whoever in a heated game of rock-paper-scissors like it’s Alex Kidd In Miracle World or something.
It’s a little confusing how this works at first but once you get the hang of it, it sort of makes sense.
Otherwise the game is pretty straight-forward, or as straight-forward as a text game can be anyway. It’s no big mystery what you’re meant to be doing in most situations, many of which involve you picking up something for someone and bringing it back to them. Then again, in one part you’re locked in a room with water and there’s not much you can do, especially since the door doesn’t seem to have a key hole.
As it turns out, you’re meant to keep kicking the door until that chili pepper dude leaves and kick it more until the key hole is revealed.
There’s some logic there, you just need to look for it.
Though the plot gets side-tracked about 10 times, it all ends just how you’d expect: you knock out the bad guy and rescue the princess.
No big surprises there.
All in all, this is actually a rather addictive game. Since it’s not quite as annoyingly cryptic or stressful as some other text or point-and-click games, it’s easier to follow and therefore play through. You also certainly can’t accuse the game of short-changing us with its concept so there’s always that.
You get your money’s worth of fruits and vegetables, that’s for sure.
A cheekier, maybe darker take on it would have maybe been a little more fun but, as it stands, it’s silly enough to remain entertaining throughout.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Lady Onion.
She sells fruits and vegetables.
Which is weird.
Weird and kind of messed-up now that I think about it…