At a Glance: It's a well-known fact that before the invention of blast processing, the only way to make video games was to manually draw all the screens on construction paper and use a TI-5100 calculator to convert them into 17 identical printouts of a sine wave, which were subsequently fed into the giant computer from Wargames. Then as long as the final product wasn't an evil communist robot, it received the Nintendo Seal of Approval and shipped. That's why every quality game produced during the NES era was accompanied by at least 50 abominations like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes that belong here in the Rom Pit, the Alien Resurrection failed cloning experiments room of video games.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 115k
Primates are blue and tomatoes are red
We'll stomp on your feet and knock off your heads
Death and destruction, that be our plan
Tomatoes forever. Down with the man!
I couldn't find the game manual, so the above plot is actually taken from a rap song performed in the 1991 film, Killer Tomatoes Eat France, which I rented in preparation for my mission of justice. I wanted some hot tips on how to beat the game, but most of all I wanted context. Who were these killer tomatoes? What was the origin of their homicidal urges? Why would a brilliant scientist throw away his promising research career to associate with this gang of vegetable miscreants? Unfortunately the movie doesn't answer any of these questions. It isn't without its charm and eventually sort of grows on you in the way that only a movie about zombie tomatoes telling dick jokes and making fun of french people can, but I certainly don't recommend it as a point of entry for newcomers to the Killer Tomatoes saga.
The one thing I did learn from Killer Tomatoes Eat France is that there's a huge enjoyment gap between watching a movie and actually being the main character in one. For instance, a small percentage of the population may enjoy Robin Williams movies, but I seriously doubt anyone wants to play a game about Robin Williams and the invisible leprechauns that will eat his brains unless he spends every waking moment of his life trying to act quirky and free-spirited. This isn't Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, this is sucking off a killer tomato for a ride home from the airport and then ending up 10 miles away from your house without any of your luggage.
Weapons: When the only weapon in an NES game is a jump, it's kind of like a warning that unless you have the hand-eye coordination of a Kung-fu master, you probably won't enjoy it.
Enemies: Attack's tomatoes look more realistic than the crappy puppets used in the movies, so I guess it earns a few points there. But, on the other hand, puppets are kind of funny, whereas the people who made this game are so humor-deficient they couldn't work in a single tomato sex joke.
Midnight Resistance has better air ducts.
Number of Levels:
Stage 1 - City
This level could be adopted as the official scientific measurement of how long it takes for jumping on mutant vegetables to stop being fun. If the game had ended here it would technically be perfect.
Stage 2 - Sewer
As it turns out, level 1 also represents the maximum amount of time a level designer can go without indulging their creepy sewer fetish. Exciting breakthroughs in sewer emulation allow this to be the most dark, edgy, mysterious and spooky, altogether ooky sewer stage ever.
Stage 3 - Air Duct Tribute
If the previous level ravaged the world of the Killer Tomatoes movies, then this one nukes it from orbit while forcing me to read erotic John Astin fan fiction and jabbing me in the groin with an electric cattle prod. Fuck you, Imagineering Inc, for breaking the sacred bond of trust between gamers and developers that no more than 1/3 of a level will take place inside an air duct.
Stage 4 - Launch Pad
By the time you get to this stage, it's impossible to make it through 2 consecutive screens without losing all your health in a giant tomato orgy. Stage 4 is followed by a final "secret" level, which I interpreted as meaning "completely optional". Protip: You can skip it by pushing a button during the credits or simply turning off your Nintendo like you probably should have 3 levels ago.
Number of Bosses: At the end of level 2 you fight a Phantom of the Opera boss whose organ shoots out tomatoes. Not only is it the only attempt at humor in the entire game, but it's also the only fucking boss the space cadets at Imagineering Inc. could come up with. Ask yourself; do you really want to play a game that ends two levels after the developers officially stopped trying?
Defining Moment: Video games have been proven as an effective means of turning people into soulless killing machines and can therefore be rated by how well they'll prepare you for trekking across a post-apocalyptic Mad Max landscape. MECC's Oregon Trail, for example, earns a near-perfect 9.7 under this system, whereas Attack of the Killer Tomatoes lies somewhere in the 2-3 range. Sorry, Imagineering Inc, but if I just finished pulling my family's charred corpses out of a pile of rubble, I probably wouldn't even notice an army of evil food that needed stepping on. And in case you readers need another defining moment; this game was 400% better as a movie featuring some puppets and Marc Prince from "Family Ties".
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).
Video games make it socially acceptable to point at Jane
The Rom Pit is dedicated to reviewing the most bizarre and screwed up classic console games from the 1980's, the ones that made you wonder what kind of illegal substances the programmers were smoking when they worked on them. Strangely enough, the same illegal substances are often necessary to enjoy or make sense of most of these titles. No horrible Nintendo game is safe from the justice of the ROM Pit.