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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Arcade: Princess Tomato In The Salad Kingdom + Commentary on the UK Riots

You know, this is supposed to be the blog entry about video and arcade games, and believe me, I will be talking about a video game that very few might not have even heard of a little later on down this entry.  But, I really want to speak out about some current events that are going on in the world that I will attempt to segway into this video game to link them together.

I'm sure by now that everyone has heard about all of the rioting and violence that is currently happening in England as I type this.  The damage is widespread, the crime is outrageous, and a few people have even lost their lives as thousands of people have taken to expressing their viewpoints through fear, force, and brutality.

It all began on August 4, 2011 when a 29-year-old man was fatally shot by British police officers in the Tottenham area.  Two days later, friends and family of the deceased launched a protest march to seek justice for his death.  Initially, the protest was done peacefully, and the group had camped outside of the police station demanding answers behind the man's death.  But when a group of younger people armed with weapons approached the area, it got ugly really fast.

It's really hard to say what exactly caused the riots to become more violent and widespread.  Obviously the above protest against the shooting was one reason, but other reasons include gang culture, recreational violence, unemployment concerns, police tensions, and criminal opportunism. 

As of this writing, the riots have spread to London, Manchester, and other major cities in Britain.  Fires have destroyed several shops, and people are becoming victims of violence, crime, and abuse.

A similar incident happened back in June 2011 upon the conclusion of the Stanley Cup finals in Vancouver, Canada.  When the Canucks lost the cup, people in the city turned over police cars and set them ablaze, as well as looted several downtown shops.

To me, it is absolutely unfathomable for me to watch people who should know better taking part in such destructive activities.  I don't care what these people think they are fighting for, or how good an excuse they may have for their uncouth behaviour.  When people lose their businesses or homes to a group of people setting them on fire, that's wrong.  When people are being robbed of their possessions just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's wrong.  When people lose their lives over a senseless excuse to cause trouble, that is absolutely inexcusable.

The thing that I find quite disgusting about the way that this is unfolding is the fact that so many children are getting involved in this.  Children as young as ten years old smashing windows, breaking into stores, and stealing from innocent people.  First of all, where are their parents?  Are they just sitting back and doing nothing about their unruly kids, or are they actively taking part in the riots themselves?  And secondly, do these children really think that the actions that they are undertaking are going to HELP them?

I mean, let's look ahead to five, ten years down the road.  Some of these kids will be teenagers.  Assuming that they try applying to colleges or wanting to look for work, how good is it going to look when there is a record of them actively taking part in the London riots of 2011?  I'm going to take a shot and say that it's not going to look good for them at all.  And, the idea that these kids think that they won't get caught?  Hello?!?  This is 2011, the year where social networking, Blackberries, and Iphones are readily available to snap your picture.  All it takes is one person to tag you in a photo where you're setting a car on fire and voila, instant criminal record.

And do these people realize that for every child that takes part in these senseless riots are millions more who are absolutely scared over what is happening?  I mean, what kind of an example are they setting?

These riots are not the way to go.  They are, at best, a cowardly demonstration that people only seem to want to be a part of to 'join the bandwagon', and to 'feel like they are a part of something bigger'.  The problem is that so many of these people don't have anything to fight for, and they're just using it as an excuse to cause trouble and mayhem.

That's shameful.

I mean, a lesser example would be someone invading someone's vegetable garden at their house, and destroying everything inside of it.  Uprooting carrots, smashing sunflowers, flooding the soil, and stealing as many veggies as you could.  They may think about how they have really scored a great deal, but they don't realize, or don't care about repercussions.  They don't realize that maybe that vegetable garden is one of the sources to providing food for the whole area and that because of their selfishness, others will have to pay for it.

That's how I see the end result of these riots.  The riots will eventually get under control, but then what?  You have thousands of people who will now have criminal records because of it.  Businesses that may or may not be rebuilt, and people who may or may not be homeless.

It's pretty disgusting. 

The only thing I can say in all this is that I hope that those innocent people in Britain stay safe and try to stay out of the fighting and the despair, and to NOT go the route of the angry vigilante, because that will just make things escalate.  And for those of you who are taking part in this senseless violence, please stop now.  You're only causing more of an embarrassment for your country, and eventually, you will get caught and have your name associated with a terrible and stupid fight forever.

The rioting needs to stop.  Yesterday.

Now, onto today's featured video game.

Earlier, I brought up the comparison of the riots in Britain to destroying a vegetable garden, and this game sort of lies along that thought. 

The reason I wanted to talk about this game is because not a lot of people in North America have played this game, or even so much as heard of the game.  It did develop a cult following though, and I'm one of the first who will admit to playing this game a lot when I was younger.

Princess Tomato In The Salad Kingdom was first created back in 1984 for Japanese computer systems.  It was ported to the Famicom game console in May 1988, and was released in North America for the Nintendo Entertainment System three years later in 1991.

The storyline for the game is a simple one, and it's probably one of the few instances of entertainment where it's okay to play with your food.  It is in fact encouraged for them to do exactly that, since 95% of all the characters in this game are fruits and vegetables!

One day, the evil Minister Pumpkin invades the Salad Kingdom and kidnaps Princess Tomato.  In addition, he steals the Turnip Emblem, and imprisoned both of them in his castle, nestled in the middle of the Zucchini Mountains.  From there, he assembled a group of humans, known as the 'Farmies' to wreak havoc in the Salad Kingdom.  They harvested vegetables for eating, they destroyed vegetable gardens, they made the citizens afraid to leave their homes.

(Now do you see the connection with the first part of this entry?)

The disappearance of Princess Tomato and the constant invasions of the kingdom by the Farmies wreaked havoc on King Broccoli.  (On a side note, I am still trying to figure out how a stalk of broccoli can spawn a tomato...I mean, I got the whole tomacco thing that The Simpsons created, but this defies all logic.  Though, then again, so do vegetables that can talk and have feelings)

King Broccoli ended up dying of despair and heartbreak, but before he passed away, he enlisted the help of a knight named Sir Cucumber to bring Princess Tomato home with the promise of her hand in marriage.

(Apparently, arranged marriage is popular in the vegetable kingdom.)

So, Sir Cucumber sets off on his quest to rescue the princess from Minister Pumpkin.  In the first stage of the game (there are nine levels altogether which takes you through such places as Orange Park, Peanut Plateau, Spinach Heights, and even Saladoria Prison!) you come across a thirsty persimmon named Percy.  If you managed to get some water for him, let him take a sip of it, and he'll be so grateful that he'll accompany you on your way.

Just be warned.  At the end of each stage, Percy will lose some items that you've collected along the way.  Luckily, they aren't very important.  And Percy, despite his small stature does prove to be a huge ally in Sir Cucumber's mission.

Now, a little section on the mechanics of the game, just based on this screenshot.

You didn't believe me when I said that all the people, places, and things in the game all have a name directly linked to your grocery produce section.  I mean, Miss Apricot and Miss Lemon?  A banana as a waiter?  The Tutti Frutti Trio?  Yeah, you'll eventually meet every possible fruit and vegetable in this game from apples to yams.

Anyway, the game is your standard point-and-click game where you cannot move any further in the game until you solve puzzles.  Perhaps you have to deliver a sandwich to a person sleeping on a bench, or suppose you need a secret item to pass through a resistance base.  You just have to use the commands on the left and right hand side to your advantage.

If you want to schmooze someone for information, you might be wise to click on the praise button to butter them up.  If you see an item on the ground, the take button is your friend.  If you have to buy something from a store, the buy button is available, but only if you managed to find enough gold pieces to afford it.

There's also a Percy button, which is usually just Percy mumbling on about nonsense.  Though at certain times, he does offer up some hints to move on from one puzzle to the next.

Oh, and the fight button?  I'll explain that one now.  Occasionally, Percy and Sir Cucumber will run into enemies at random spots.  Usually they'll run into a couple of Farmies, but there are a couple of boss battles.  You'll fight a monster named Bananda, you'll run into a trio of monsters, and eventually you'll have the big battle with Minister Pumpkin.

But fear need not use weapons, or fire, or magic to attack them.  You just have to know how to play rock, paper, scissors.

Yes.  Rock, Paper, Scissors.

This is the battle screen.  You are on the bottom of the screen, and your opponent is on top.  Your challenge is to win more hands of rock/paper/scissors than your opponent.  It's really not that hard, and in most cases, you will get a second, third, or eighteenth chance to conquer your foe (there is one battle that you can get a Game Over in, so be warned).  The mechanics are pretty simple though.  Paper beats rock.  Rock beats scissors.  Scissors beats paper.  It's not as hard as you think, and it's pretty simple to win.

Intrigued yet?  Want the chance to play?  Lucky for you, the game appears online for you to play whenever you want!  The link is below!

Hope you enjoy it, and hope you don't mind the simplistic is a game that is almost three decades old, after all.  :)

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