The Retro Critic

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

It’s Review A Bad Game Day time again!

Which means that I get to play and review something that’s either well and truly dire or amusingly so. Which isn’t too far-fetched for me since I tend to play and review tons of those kinds of games so I say: bring it on!

Thinking about the NES, I soon turned to a silly game based on a silly cartoon series based on a silly movie franchise. And no, I’m not talking about that Toxic Crusaders game, though I did consider it. Besides, you know what’s scarier than a radioactive dude?

Radioactive tomatoes.

Yes, I’m taking on the NES’s very own Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes.

Because someone totally has to.

Tomato Throw

Young Chad Finletter is who you’re playing as and the game opens with poor Chad having tomatoes thrown at him. It’s unclear who is avidly pelting the kid with tomatoes but my guess is Dr. Gangreen, who has been known to set up far more intricate tomato-related plans than just throwing ’em at Chad from across the street.

The “plot” kicks in with Gangreen relating his evil plan to his dim-witted sidekick.

Creation Tomato

Oh this can only be good…

Doomsday Tomato

Told ya.

We’re then introduced to Gangreen’s tomato minions, who all have the silliest names imaginable from Beefsteak to Mummato, Fang, Zoltan, Ketchuck and Tomacho. It’s implied they’ll be the big bosses of the game, sort of like Bowser’s Koopalings, but really they’re more like slightly more annoying tomatoes you’ll bump into every so often.

As if there weren’t enough tomatoes in this game.

Seriously, this game redefines everything we know and believe about tomatoes.

Tomatoes were NOTHING to me before playing Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes on the NES.

Now I see: there is no spoon, there is only… tomatoes.

Jumping tomatoes…

Jumping Tomatoes

Tomato worms…

Tomato Worms

Spider tomatoes…

Spider Tomatoes

Normal tomatoes…

Tiny Tomato

Tomato bees, tomato bats, spitting tomatoes, ghost tomatoes, tomato sauce, the list goes on and on.

This game is either imaginative to an almost overwhelming level no human can truly understand or it is completely out of its mind high on sundried tomato paste.

Apart from that Doomsday Tomato at the end of game, you also get to fight a Phantom Of The Opera-style boss, some cloaked villain who plays a tomato organ.

Tomato Organ Boss

Yeah, that happens.

The goal is to throw what I’m guessing is rocks at the organ in order to bend the pipes so the titular killer tomatoes don’t shoot out and land on you. And when I say the pipes, I mean EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. As if the controls weren’t broken enough, now you’re required to walk around while tomatoes rain on you and position yourself in front of like 16 pipes in order to throw properly.

How fun!

At first I was really annoyed: why couldn’t the kid just throw rocks at the guy instead of bothering with that whole contraption? Or simply walk up to him and kick him then have a proper boss fight?

As it turns out, the perspective and the colour palette threw me off and I thought that the mosaic behind “The Phantom” was a carpet when, in fact, it’s a gap. Chad is standing on some kind of platform, so he can’t just walk up to him. The game is full of odd visuals like that which make it hard to define exactly where you are and what’s happening.

The boss eventually reveals himself to be…

Tomato Guy

You’ve guessed it.

A tomato.

More precisely: Phantomato. He was a character in an episode of the cartoon series.

Another annoying visual thing the game keeps doing is draping its main character in shadow so that you can barely make him out, which, as you can imagine, is tons of fun and completely useful.

Signs Shadow Tomato

Great, well at least I can see the silly signs plastered all over the railings.

That’s the important thing.

Shame I can’t see my own face!

Oh that’s right, I almost forgot. In between levels we all of a sudden cut to one of the most almost-funny jokes in the game:

Whitley White

Whitley White pops up a few times in the game to give you a heads up on what’s going on with the tomato invasion. We’ll check back with him a little bit later.

Believe it or not, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes somehow rips off McKids of all things, and gives your character the ability to play through parts of a level upside down. Which, as we all know, is always a riot especially when it means that the controls are basically backwards.

Upside Down Tomato

What’s that thing on the right, you ask?

Robot tomato.

Don’t you dare act surprised.

See the thing about the controls is that walking and running is a pain, it really is. There’s something not quite right about the way the character moves. Also, jumping is a farce. You remember how jumping in Bart vs The Space Mutants was basically stiffer and more unforgiving than a giant tree falling on your face? Well this isn’t quite as bad as that but it certainly tries to be.

It’s not all bad, though, and I should mention that the way you defeat all these different types of tomatoes is by simply jumping on top of them and squashing them, which is easy enough. Plus I gotta mention the music since it’s definitely one of the best things about the game: it’s crazy, it’s surprisingly sinister at times, I love it.

Anyway, Chad finally gets to the Doomsday Tomato and it looks, well, WAY more glorious than that first picture led us to believe:

Doomsday Tomato End

Simply… terrifying.

You beat the boss by destroying each giant tomato, of course, and the credits start rolling.

Except then Whitley shows up again:

Whitley Ending

When is this game gonna end?

I’m with you on that one, Whitley.

As it turns out, the Doomsday Tomato wasn’t the final boss, which is probably a good thing since that would have been a weak payoff. No, there’s a whole new level to beat after the credits since the Monster Mountain Tomato eats you and you’re forced to find your way out of it!

Mountain Tomato Eat

Ok, that’s actually kinda scary.

Inside the Mountain Tomato, it’s basically a gory maze with nothing too interesting to fight or find except the usual bunch of pickups. And, obviously, the exit depicted here as some purple root you jump on, ending the game promptly.

Inside Tomato

So much for another final boss battle!

Ultimately, you get to witness the aftermath of this whole massacre and stand (or, rather, pose) proudly winking at the gamer as if to say: “yeah, I’m awesome”.

How Chad never got ANY tomato juice on his clothes, however, I’ll never know.

Exploded Tomato

But if I start nitpicking this game, you’ll be reading this review all week so let’s wrap this up.

So that’s Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes on the NES and it is, indeed bad.

But it’s the kind of bad game you can appreciate: for one thing, it’s based on material that’s meant to be so bad it’s good, packed with awful jokes and pure nonsense the entire time so, as a game adaptation of that, it does rather well. It can be repetitive, confusing and the controls can be irritating but, overall, it’s entertaining (read: silly) enough if you really have nothing else to play.

On that note, enjoy all of this year’s Review A Bad Game Day entries and remember:

Tomato bee.

Or not tomato bee.

Tomato Bee

That is the question.