Flashback: Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom

Jonny CBy: Jonny Casino

I want you to think back to when many PC games were just text based. You would get a description of the room you are in and tell the game what you wanted to do. You could look at an item, take something, use something, go right or left, and the such. Now imagine if you had a picture to go with each room. This is exactly what Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom is.

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom is an adventure game, created by Hudson Soft. I decided to check this title out after it was recommended to me. This is a game that has come out on several retro systems, and it was rereleased on the Wii Virtual Console. One thing that really amused me is that the American version was apparently altered from the Japanese version. I was using a walkthrough (I’ll get to why I did this later), and it pointed out how cigarettes were replaced by coffee, just as one example.

3CA6D966-F2A8-4958-9F1D-03D95F5A35DAAs soon as I booted up the game, I knew what I was getting into. I saw a picture, a description of what was around, and I could take some actions. Instantly, I felt some regret. I have not been into text-based games since I was playing one on a TI83 calculator, when I was a child.

I have a few issues with these games. First of all, they are slow, and can be boring. Secondly, it is very difficult to know what I really need to do. This was quickly the case in Princess Tomato. I found myself going from scene to scene, examining everything, but not being able to progress. This is when I busted out a walkthrough. I wanted to get a feel for the game, but I did not have the patients to do the same thing repeatedly.

The guide let me know where to go, who to talk to, and what items I must grab. To be honest, I think I would have beat my head against a wall for hours before figuring some of it out. I get that these games are supposed to take time and need to to be worth the cost. I just don’t have it in me to do it. One thing that is very helpful is that you get save passwords after each chapter. If someone needed to play this in one go, it would be brutal.

Most of the frustrations were removed by the walkthrough. I was able to just progress through the game and enjoy the story, and what a story it was. Whoever came up with this idea must have bought the good drugs. All but one of the characters were vegetables. The one human was a cartoon of a random, smoking hot, girl. Why was she in this vegetable world? I’m still not sure.

The overall story is that you need to save Princess Tomato. She has been captured and you might be her only hope. There is a ruthless government that has taken over the Salad Kingdom, and you will work with the resistance to take them down. To do so, you obviously must take actions like giving a donut to a bum, go to a strip club, and punch a fountain. You know, the normal stuff.

You might be wondering if there is combat. Well, after you find yourself in jail, you get to fight your way out. You don’t get to shoot or punch anyone. Instead, you play rock, paper, scissors, and then guess the direction the enemy will look. Yes, you read that correctly. Its ridiculous, but everything in this game is.

If you are someone who still enjoys the frustrations of text-based games, this one is a fun title. The story is quirky enough to be entertaining. For everyone else, don’t waste your money on Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. I think the world has moved way past this style of game, and I don’t believe it will ever return.

Screenshots by MobyGames

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