Edible Protagonists - Food People in Games
The personification of inanimate objects can get a little out of hand sometimes. Have you ever had trouble getting rid of an old toaster because it looked so sad all alone out by the curb? Nothing is safe from personification - not even food.
Food talks to us all the time in advertising, in cartoons, and even in video games. Sometimes it’s fun to play with our food, and there have been several games over the years that make use of edible protagonists.
Take Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. Originally for Japanese home computers, Princess Tomato would eventually find her way over to North American shores on the NES. With its bright pink label and charming concept, it endeared itself to many gamers who discovered it.
It’s a point and click adventure game (the forerunner to modern visual novels) wherein you play as Sir Cucumber as he attempts to rescue the titular princess from the clutches of Minister Pumpkin. You explore a kingdom of fruit and vegetable people, solving puzzles and striking up conversations.
The tomato actually got a lot of representation in the 8-bit era. Across the pond, the Famicom Disk System got the awkwardly named Kick Challenger: Air Foot, a bizarre little game where you control the individual feet of a walking tomato.
On the Game Boy, Acclaim released Kwirk, a box-based puzzler that plays a bit like Sokoban or Chip’s Challenge. In it, you manipulate boxes to reach the end of the level, moving them aside or dropping them into holes to create bridges. Kwirk even showed up in The Power Team segment of the video game based show, Video Power, which was a bit like Captain N: The Game Master but starred Acclaim characters rather than Nintendo ones.
The California Raisins, motown mascots for the raisin brand of the same name, also almost had a game on the NES. The game was extremely close to release but never made it to market despite being reviewed by some publications.
Edible protagonists have continued to exist beyond the 8-bit era of games. Quite a few games have been based off on the Veggietales line of children’s cartoons. The Holy Potatoes series has seen several entries, all based around their little potato characters. Each one has a different gameplay hook from running a weapon shop to managing a spaceship.
Mega Cat Studios has its own delicious hero coming to PC and the Sega Genesis. Apeel’s Court places you in the boots of a mustachioed Banana Cop with a hunger for potassium-filled justice. In it, you beat your way through various nutritious baddies to uncover the dark truth behind a kidnapping case.
Anthropomorphizing food is a strange concept. Why do we feel better when our food tells us, face to face, that it’s delicious? Maybe we all relate so well to food because everyone eats - it’s a universal experience. And hey, if you’re a cannibal, plenty of protagonists are food to you!
So, don’t be afraid to dig into the next game you see with a food-related freedom fighter. It might just be a tasty experience.
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Find out more about Apeel's Court here!