Here’s an obscure cult favourite from Japanese develop Hudson Soft, a peculiar adventure game first released in 1984 on the NEC PC-8801.
The History of Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom
Hudson Soft was acquired by Konami in 2012, so the former technically doesn’t exist anymore. But it was responsible for Bomberman and various other hits.
Right… Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (サラダの国のトマト姫—Sarada no Kuni no Tomato Hime) launched on home computers in 1984. But only in Japan.
It did well enough for Nintendo to want a port onto its games console. Yet it wasn’t until 1991 that the title launched in North America.
And that’s no doubt down to just how bizarre the game is. It plays more like a text adventure than anything else, but with anthropomorphic vegetable characters.
As the player, you star as noble Sir Cucumber (a knight, although cucumbers are a fruit if you remember correctly). You receive a mission from great King Broccoli to exterminate the evil Minister Pumpkin.
That absolute blaggard has kidnapped Princess Tomato.
Thankfully, you team up with Percy the persimmon as your sidekick to tackle the evil pumpkin fiend and restore order to the Salad Kingdom. Phew, right?
Into the gaming world you go and it’s your job to issue commands to your characters to react in certain ways based on what’s happening.
Whilst you journey around the maze-like level structures, you occasionally break off to have “finger wars” with baddies. As in kind of a rock, paper, scissors type deal.
At its vegetable-based heart, the game isn’t about adventuring.
It’s more of an exploration game, where you need to remember certain areas and problem-solve the heck out of things.
This means Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom isn’t exactly for everyone. But we guess you’ve already figured that out.
It does, however, have a rather decent 8-bit NES soundtrack to complement proceedings.
Away from that, the graphics are functional. Everything is viewed through a tiny screen, making this game far from a visual delight.
What it piles on in spades is the surreal factor.
The vegetables are like Mondo mascots, kind of comical looking but maintaining utter conviction in their duty to the Salad Kingdom.
And the game is pretty decent! It’s no classic, but its utter weirdness has made it something of a cult favourite in the internet era.
For us, we were sold on that ridiculous title right from the get-go.
The heroic Sir Cucumber alone is a marvel of an invention (a fruit). And then there’s Princess Tomato (also a fruit). And the nefarious Minister Pumpkin (yes, a fruit).
Erm… Hudson Soft should really have done some research into what vegetables are. But never mind! It’s the thought that counts.