Recipe: Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom

I was recently commissioned by a website that has surprisingly little to do with video games to write an article about Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, a delightful and frankly bizarre adventure game that Hudson published for the NES (it’s on Virtual Console too, if you want it).

For those who haven’t played the game, it’s about an armed rebellion of fruits and vegetables taking on a twisted dictator that is selling them out to farmers for reasons that are never made entirely clear.

It’s got some great self-referential humor, jaunty music, and some of the most memorable characters in the NES library. Characters so memorable that you just kind of want to cut them up and eat them, which is what we’re going to do.

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (serves two)

YOU’LL NEED:

3 tbsp Peanut Village oil
1 tbsp Percy Persimmon vinegar
2 cups fresh Spinach Heights, washed and roughly cut
1/2 red bell Sgt. Pepper, diced
1 cup grape Princess Tomatoes, halved vertically
1/2 Sir Cucumber, peeled, sliced and quartered
1 clove Garlic Wanderer, minced
1/2 cup Minister Pumpkin seeds, roasted
1 bag frozen Mr. Corn
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Here is a picture of Anthrax playing Ninja Gaiden II on the NES

Courtesy a really old issue of Nintendo Power.

Brandon’s note: To accompany your viewing, here is one of the only good Anthrax songs from that era, which you’ll note is actually written by Joe Jackson. I once saw guitarist Scott Ian in an airport, and couldn’t think of anything profound to say, so I just pointed at him and said: “SCOTT IAN.” He agreed.

A super early look at the original Sonic the Hedgehog

Hey, since we’re in a birthday celebrating mood, I thought I’d dig up this neat piece of history from my stupidly large collection of old videogame magazines.

These are, as far as I know, the very first screenshots ever taken of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, from Sega’s display at the Tokyo Toy Show, June 7, 1990. The game was about two months into its fourteen-month development cycle, so there probably wasn’t very much there yet.

I scanned these from old issues of EGM (#s 13 and 16, for those playing along at home), so God only knows if EGM actually took these or if they stole them from a Japanese magazine. If anyone has a collection of Japanese mags from that era, take a look and let us know if there are any others.

The preview that accompanied these was pretty vague (“In Sonic Hedgehog, you control a super rodent on a mission to defeat the evil creatures that have populated your home.”), so I don’t know if the game was actually playable or if it was just a video feed or something. Regardless, it’s neat to see such an iconic game in such an early, embryonic state.

Star Odyssey is a new Sega Genesis RPG you can buy

Super Fighter Team, those wacky guys that make a business out of translating and selling old games for old consoles, is set to release its third (!) Sega Genesis RPG.

This one is called Star Odyssey and, unlike the last two, it is Japanese-style RPG that is actually from Japan: both Beggar Prince and Legend of Wukong came from Taiwan. For those who like overclassifying things, that makes it a JJRPG as opposed to a TJRPG.

The game was released in Japan by the publisher with one of my favorite names ever, Hot B. It was called Blue Almanac over there, which totally strikes me as one of those Japanese game titles that was chosen because it was two cool-sounding English words that don’t actually mean anything together.

Blue Almanac doesn’t seem particularly well-remembered; I can’t find any videos on Nico, and YouTube just has one music track and a super hilarious “review” from an internet superstar who says “fuck” a lot.

There was going to be an official translation done at one point, and a build of it by American publisher Sage’s Creation (an early licensee that published Hot B games in America) was found by this guy.

“Gonna release this in a few days, when I get some stuff sorted out,” he wrote on March 1, 2008, before never speaking of it again. As it turns out, Super Fighter worked out a deal with him to acquire the ROM and officially license the game through its rights holder. Apparently that official English version wasn’t fit to release, though, with Super Fighter’s hired programmer saying that “the entire script was nothing but Engrish trash.”

“The game crashed after several hours; there were sprites walking around that you couldn’t speak to; the entire game was written using a hideous font; descriptions for most of the items and magic types made no sense,” he said.

The entire game was fixed up over the last couple years, with a lot of weird bugs and useless features removed (they even balanced the difficulty!).

I haven’t played the game yet, but it looks like a Phantasy Star II knockoff. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! If this sounds like a thing you might enjoy purchasing, you can do that here for $40 plus shipping. You should also buy Zaku while you’re there because it’s a Lynx game about a fox that shoots other animals to get back some stolen game development middleware. How can you not want that?

The PlayStation 3 is hitting all kinds of strides

It finally happened. The PlayStation 3 is hitting its stride.

That’s according to Sony Computer Entertainment president and CEO Jack Tretton, who said so to Forbes.

“PlayStation 3 is really just hitting its stride,” he said in an interview published June 17, 2011.

This is very important news. It has been a long journey into stride-hitting territory for the PlayStation 3, full of many false starts and shattered dreams. Join us as tonight we look back on the history of the PlayStation 3 and stride hitting.
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Kirby Sunsoft redub

I have no idea why this exists. I found this video while searching YouTube for “Sunsoft music,” which totally sounds like something I’d do. Just as the title suggests, this is gameplay from the Super Nintendo game Kirby’s Dreamland 3 with all of the music replaced by tunes from Sunsoft games, for reasons only the author of this video can even begin to comprehend. Specifically these are tunes from Sunsoft’s NES catalog, which I’m still convinced was written by a spaceman from the future.

Actually, we don’t know who composed Sunsoft’s incredible NES tunes. Someone once asked the guy who designed Blaster Master, and his answer was pretty much “some guy.”

Seeing Kirby run around and eat things while the intense oh-god-there-are-robots-everywhere music from Journey To Silius plays adds a weird sense of urgency and seriousness to the game. I have no idea why but this is the most compelling thing I’ve watched all day.

Besides Journey to Silius, other games that lent music to this bizarre video include Gremlins 2, Blaster Master, Batman: Return of the Joker, and Gimmick!, a personal favorite of mine. This is also one of four total parts, the rest are on the author’s profile.

Youtube: Actual footage from M2 games

D2Over at my genetically superior forums, PC Games That Weren’t webmaster Timo Weirich has been posting footage of real game code running on what must be real Panasonic M2 hardware! This stuff is a real treat, as game footage from the system — despite its media popularity and close-to-launch-ness — is incredibly rare. Here is what he’s posted so far:


D2:

video #1
video #2

IMSA Racing: (dig that music!)

video #1
video #2

Iron & Blood:

M2 port
Original PlayStation version (for comparison)

While I’m on an M2 kick, here’s a brief collection of videos from Konami arcade games that ran on M2 hardware, to give you a better taste of what the games might have looked like if the console came out:

Polystars
Battle Tryst
Evil Knight
Heat of Eleven ’98

There are also some various other M2-related videos on Youtube, but let’s just keep this limited to real game code running on the hardware. Stuff worth noting: D2 was completely reworked for the Dreamcast and is a different game, Iron & Blood was not a planned game as much as a tech demo, and the announcer from Heat of Eleven ’98 needs to narrate every game ever.

News: Black Ice, White Noise For Sale

Black Ice, White NoiseBlack Ice, White Noise was an ambitious 3D adventure game for the Jaguar CD that was canceled by publisher Atari right around its Alpha phase. It is an interesting historical footnote for two reasons, the first being that this dark and seedy (and extremely expensive) cyberpunk thing was an internal response to Sam Tramiel mandating a new mascot for the Atari brand (the lady in the red jacket, I guess?), and second because it is a third person 3D game where the main character explores a large 3D city by either walking or stealing cars, designed several years before that one game came out that all the other games copied for a while.

The game itself is old news for readers of this site, but today I learned via gameSniped that copies of Alpha builds of the game are for sale at unreasonably high prices! You can pay $1,500 on eBay, if you’d like, or you can buy direct from the licensed distributor. There are two separate builds of the game – both are in Alpha, and while one is more feature-complete, the earlier one crashes less often. For some reason both builds are $30 each, and you can’t get a deal on a bundle, so I guess you can either spend $60 to get all you can out of the experience or choose what’s more important to you, less crashes or features like “the infamous ‘Zebra Hooker.'” You can also get the soundtrack for $20, which was written by the guy who wrote Herb Alpert’s Rise and, if his disgrace-to-god website is to be believed, Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize. He did some other game music too – the video game discography is kind of hidden on his site, but you can see it here. Before you get excited, no, he didn’t do the soundtrack to The Adventures of Batman and Robin on the Genesis, he composed the music for the beautifully animated cutscenes in the Sega CD version that sounded nothing at all like the music from the show.

News: PC Engine Modem Unveiled

[ PCE Tsuushin Booster ]The PC Engine Modem, or Tsuushin Booster, is a rare beast. According to at least one Japanese source 20-30 found their way into the hands of PCE fans for official testing. They were allowed to keep them. A further hundred, the story goes, were produced right before the peripheral was due to be released. Before the assembly line kicked into gear, the modem was canceled and the last hundred ordered destroyed. Some weren’t, and occasionally pop up on Yahoo auctions. The PCE Modem is, you might agree, one of the rarest production accessories.

Chris Covell has purchased a Tsuushin Booster, for an undisclosed but no doubt ungodly sum, and put the entire thing online for our enjoyment.

While you’re on his site, you might check out some of the other neat stuff he’s got: Sega Master System hacks, a stack of prototypes and unreleased software from vintage game mags, the very rare Devil’s Crush soundtrack CD, or perhaps his RGB page, or even his picross-for-PCEngine game, Tongueman’s Logic.

Link: Aleste history

[ Aleste Thumbnail ]It’s not often that we can learn historical facts from video games. When Sega’s MegaCD was released most developers were coming from computers to Sega’s new console. Many games, and in fact it could be argued too many were simulations and games that would suit the system’s developing audience: hardcore geeks with a taste for the intellectual. Mahjong sims and wargames and hex strategies were very popular, and many managed to educate while entertaining the few sad loners who bought into the platform.

It’s saying something when even the best shooter for the MegaCD had a history lesson to offer. Luckily, for those of us who speak English, Tengen’s otherwise execrable localization of Dennin Aleste (renamed Robo Aleste) kept the history lesson intact. NFGGames has transcribed this history lesson, and it offers a unique insight into a period of Japanese history you probably didn’t know much about.