One of the most overlooked games ever on the NES, Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom is a fun, quirky, and wholly original adventure/RPG game that should appeal to anyone who likes unique, logical, and thoroughly entertaining adventure games. The game sadly received far less recognition than ICOM’s NES port of Shadowgate, which is a shame, because in my opinion PTISK is far superior. |
The storyline is unique, funny, albeit a little deceptively childish: you are Sir Cucumber, a valiant knight who must rescue Princess Tomato from the evil Minister Pumpkin, who not only kidnapped her but also the Turnip Emblem, which gives the holder the right to rule the Salad Kingdom. Yes, it’s as silly as it sounds – but it will grow on you after a while, especially since you will be meeting dozens of interesting (some even hilarious) vegetable characters that keep the game fresh and move the main plot along.
The gameplay of PTISK is essentially the same as Shadowgate, which means it will be familiar to any PC gamer who has played the ICOM one (either the early DOS or Windows 3.1 version). Basically you choose a verb (TAKE, LOOK, etc.) from a row of icons, then click on an object in the center screen to finish the basic verb-noun command. Despite the wacky plot, most of the puzzles in the game are quite logical, although sometimes it’s difficult to figure out the right sequence of actions (for example, you could be giving someone the item he/she requested, but the plot still won’t move along because you haven’t done another, completely unrelated task that is also required). As in most other console-style adventure/RPGs, you will have to battle the bad guys from time to time. But in PTISK, the battles are unique – each battle is decided by easy-to-master Rock-Paper-Scissors. This means adventure gamers can concentrate more on the main storyline/puzzles without worrying about dying in combat.
With a funny and original storyline, colorful characters, and interesting puzzles, Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom ranks as one of the most underrated NES games of all time – and one that is well worthy of a remake or update for newer console systems. The only bad thing about the game I can think of is the existence of (gasp!) a few mazes in the middle of the game, which aren’t that hard to map but feel redundant regardless. Thanks to wonderful emulators such as NESticle which makes playing NES games a simple affair of load-and-run, you now have a chance to experience this underdog on modern PCs. Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs