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RELEASE DATE (NA): February 8, 1991 GENRE: Point-and-Click Adventure
// review by Stingray

Carrot to play a game?

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom was released in 1991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was originally developed by Hudson Soft, the great people that gave us Bomberman, Bonk, and DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's Doki Doki Adventure, in 1984 for Japanese home computers and ported in 1988 to the Famicom.

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom is a quirky text-based adventure game where you play as Sir Cucumber who rides in to save the day on his trusty... steed? Princess Tomato has been kidnapped by the evil Minister Pumpkin. The king of the garden has become ill over his lost daughter and just before his death promises his daughter's hand in marriage if you rescue her. Minister Pumpkin has taken over the town of Saladoria, and it's now controlled by the evil Farmies. You must sneak into the Farmie-controlled city of Saladoria, locate the resistance, and get their help in defeating Minister Pumpkin.

You control Sir Cucumber by issuing commands via the listed actions that line each side of the screen. There are 14 commands that can be issued; most of them are typical commands that you will find in a similar game such as Move, Look, Check, Talk, etc. Look, Check, and Talk will be your most favorite as you will primarily be doing these three actions. In each new area you will need to look around to inspect the new area and check each item, sometimes repeatedly. Praise allows you to... well, praise someone, but I'm not sure if it really has any effect on the game. Dump lets you drop items, but I'm not sure why you would ever do that. The most infurating thing in these types of games is learning that you need that precious item that you dropped momments ago.

Early on in the game you pick up a companion who always calls you boss, for some odd reason, but provides little actual help in the game. Percy the baby persimmon, who you save by giving him some water, follows you around like a lost puppy. His only role is to drop items "accidently" after each area. But don't worry: he only drops items that are not longer needed... which begs the question why is there a Dump command.

You'll be playing this game until you cuke!

The battle system in this game is a bit odd and a little complicated. Each round of battle in split into two parts. The first part, called Finger Wars, is just a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The loser of the first part must pick a direction to look, either up, down, left, or right and the winner must guess the direction. If both parts are won, a token at the bottom of the screen will be removed. If you lose both parts, a token will be added. In order to win, you must remove all the tokens.

As with most text based games or point-and-click adventures, the hardest part is figuring out what needs to be done in order to progress. Often it requires speaking to the right people in the right order. I found this challenging and ended up using a walkthrough for most of the game. However, I do not feel that this took away from the game. The quirky sense of humor kept me entertained.

This game consists of a world of anthropomorphic fruits and vegetables, which throughout the game raised a few interesting questions like, "Why is there only one true human character, and why is she Princess Tomato's sister?" This for me was one of the big things that did not fit in the game. It seemed like a contest gone horribly wrong or a failed promise to a daughter. Other interesting questions were "Can grapes get drunk on wine?" or "If a banana peel is found in the trash, is it their skin or their clothes?" or "Does eating a banana count as cannibalism? Or are only certain fruits and vegetables allowed to be anthropomorphic?"

The graphics are not stellar but fit well with the humor of the game and felt intentional. The music is catchy, which is good because it is very repetitive.

The game itself did not feel like they were trying for something and failed. Somehow this quirky game with simple graphics and music felt intentional and more polished then other "better" games. The simple still images gave what was needed to convey and move the story. The simple controls allowed anyone to pick up the game. It almost feels like it was made for a child, but with the subject matter... there are cigarettes. Gasp! And the difficulty in bouncing back and forth between the townfolk in a feeble attempt to figure it out made it feel as though it was designed for older gamers.

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom is a silly game designed to bring out the kid in us all with the difficulty to challenge us. Its silly humor kept me laughing even as I cursed, trying desperately to get the right person to say the right thing.

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