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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Tomato Adventure — The best game you've never heard of

By CAPTAIN STITCH - Remember those weird tomato spirits in Smash? That’s this game!

Tomatoes! Do you like them? I'm not a fan personally. Tomato Adventure is a Japanese-exclusive RPG for the Game Boy Advance released in 2002 by AlphaDream. It’s been 20 years and counting since its original release so what better way to celebrate that, than to play it in English for the first time ever! In fact the English translation was first attempted by Clyde Mandelin of Mother 3 translation fame, but eventually completed (July 2021) by…some anonymous individual. Thank you anonymous individual!

Seeing as there really aren’t too many reviews on this Tomato Temerit Themed Tirade, I figured I'd let the people of the world know that despite some quirks, this game is worth a playthrough. Its battle system alone is something that begs to be looked at. Instead of pressing A to attack, the player will use a variety of combinations of the A and B buttons and the D-pad, which allow for a varied and intricate battle system that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Unless of course, you regularly abuse save states, but surely nobody does that. Either way, when's the last time you saw a game with a plot centered on Tomatoes?


Now development wise, this game predates Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and it’s speculated that the work done on this game allowed Nintendo the comfortability to approve AlphaDream's desire to make a Mario & Luigi game. Whether that’s true or not, this game does share one thing centric to Superstar Saga. And that is the kidnapping of our hero's girlfriend. Oi’!

DeMille and his girlfriend Pasaran are two outcast kids living in the slums of Ketchup Kingdom, all because they don’t like the taste of tomatoes. One day, Pasaran gets kidnapped by the begrudgingly beloved King Abira, so it’s up to DeMille to rescue his girlfriend, with the help of several odd acquaintances he happens to meet along the way. Unbeknown to DeMille, King Abira is also assembling a super weapon that will turn all the residents of his kingdom into toys. Thus, DeMille must defeat the five Super Kid henchmen of King Abira to gain access to his domain, destroy his super weapon, and take King Abira down to save his girlfriend and the entire Ketchup Kingdom!

Of course you have to remember that our dashing hero is only a kid himself. But then again, so is our evil antagonist. I suppose the semantics of good vs evil have to start somewhere, but surely these kids could have waited until they at least reached double digits. The story isn’t too complex, but that could be because this game was supposedly aimed towards a younger audience. Sort of an intro to RPGs kinda game, I suppose. Fortunately, this is a Nintendo game, and Nintendo firmly believes in making games that can easily introduce non-gamers, but still provide a rewarding experience for the hardcore gamer. As an RPG, this game has a ton of dialogue. Although in the beginning most of it does lend itself to the kiddy preposition of its developers and graphics, as the game progresses the dialogue assumes a more normal position that caters to all audiences. Including the usual assortment of risque or comedy acts that would surely fly over most of the younger generations’ heads. Still, the story here is simple and engraving enough that anyone of any age can invest themselves in it.


Like most RPGs, the game includes a standard overworld and overworld map, although there are many puzzles that take place on the overworld that harken back to the Mario & Luigi games. There are even mandatory mini-games much like in the Mario & Luigi games, that can become increasingly tedious and difficult to win, but reward you with this game's counterpart to Beans, Pacifiers. Pacifiers are found in many places, indicated by an occasional sparkle, and they can be used to unlock more weapons/forms of combat.

Tomato Adventure Invincible Song combat battle fight

Speaking of combat, this is where the game really shines. As soon as you initiate a battle, by walking into an enemy on the overworld, our hero DeMille and one other party member of your choice whip out their gadgets to fight. These gadgets, called Gimmicks, are technically weapons with silly names (Mag-Mitt, Gear-yo, Cupid Bow, etc.), but each “weapon” really functions as a new way to battle. For example, the Gear-yo requires you to stop a moving red bar in a certain zone to land an attack successfully, whereas the Mag-Mitt requires you to mash A to fill a bar and land an attack successfully and so on. You have about 5 seconds to do all this, but even if you fail, you’ll still do some damage to the enemy. The amount of combinations when you think of the A button, B button, and D-pad are truly astounding. Some of the other Gimmicks require you to push separate buttons in a certain order or one after the other in rapid succession. Should one Gimmick prove too difficult to master, you can switch the difficulty level of any Gimmick at any time. Lowering the difficulty decreases the amount of Awe points you get whilst lowering the difficulty and extending the time limit, and vice versa.

Tomato Adventure AWE Erupter

What are Awe points? After successfully completing any Gimmick attack, you get a certain amount of Awe points. You get more Awe points the higher the difficulty a Gimmick is set to. Once you get enough Awe points, you can pull off a devastating attack that will usually wipe out any standard enemies. However, if at any time you don’t successfully complete an attack, all of your Awe points will be lost and you’ll have to start over. Before that happens or If you don’t want to use an Awe attack, you can always exchange it for Pacifiers about halfway through the game. The multitude of battle options and accessibility to players of all ages make this a battle system for the books. There isn’t ever any need to get annoyed or enraged at enemy battles when there are so many ways to fight them. You can have up to 10 different Gimmicks in play at a time, 5 for each party member. Although DeMille and company require experience points to level up, Gimmicks can have their power increased through the Cell items. Cell items are won in battle or bought in stores. All in all, the level of customisation here is easy and welcoming, especially for any RPG beginner.


The music for this game was composed by Yoko Sakai, who apparently hasn’t composed anything else ever, and for good reason. What can one say about the music, except that it is a phenomenal disappointment. You probably weren't expecting that given that most everything else about the game has been great so far, but sadly this game's soundtrack is extremely mediocre.

That’s not to say it’s a bad soundtrack and certainly good music is subjective, but there’s just nothing here with substance. The music fits the scenes that it plays in and it won’t stand out by irritation or abrasiveness, but it isn’t particularly catchy either. Few tunes in this game are catchy, and I personally went back after beating the game and listened to the entire soundtrack to try to find something really interesting, to no avail. If this were the soundtrack to, say, the Game Boy Camera, then I would be praising it to no end. But for an RPG soundtrack, it just doesn’t meet expectations.

On my second listen through, I did find a couple songs that weren't as bad as I initially thought, like On the Chopping Block. However, I think that it may be because I'm already familiar with the music, that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with its actual quality. Again, this could be all subjective, so you’ll just have to play the game and prove me wrong.


This is a very stylized game. On the surface level everything looks very kiddy, and to an extent this is true. There are lego blocks, cardboard boxes, crayon drawings, and all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The color palette here is also very bright and (usually) often very plain with minimal detail. Though this will turn off some, most people who play the game should be able to see the genuinity in such a stylistic choice. One area at the beginning of the game features a very charming underground house in a town full of Aluminum can houses. Truly this is a game whose art style harkens towards the pure and whimsical imagination of a child.

An especially nice touch is that the battle field copies that of the current overworld DeMille and company are in at the time, even taking into account the different environments when inside or outside a building in any of the multitude of towns. As for DeMille and the designs of his friends and enemies, they are as unique as can be. Characters may seem simple on the overworld, but once battle takes place, every character gets enlarged to a point where you can really see the charm that went into designing them. Oh and the characters move in battle too, if the Mario & Luigi-ish character design wasn’t already similar enough.

One complaint I have is that sometimes characters will glitch out for a split second in battles, but I suppose that’s more of a hardware issue than a graphics problem. The Gimmick attack animations are very nice, especially considering there are 100 of them, for both successful and failing attacks. Now I don’t want to spoil the game's Super Kid bosses, all of which have fantastic designs, so I instead implore you to feast your eyes upon the horrifically beautiful, if not slightly blurry, awesomeness that is ButchaBesu!

Butchabesu Butcher Beth Tomato Adventure


For a standard playthrough this game is easy, although it’s somewhat subjective as the difficulty is really entirely up to you.

As mentioned earlier, the difficulty comes solely from the level of difficulty you set your Gimmicks to. If you set them on a higher difficulty level than one you can actually achieve, then the game will be very hard for you. However, if you find the difficulty level that perfectly aligns with your skills, no matter what difficulty you’re playing at the game will be easy. The battles are not ever too difficult, and you can save any time you’d like. Again, perfect for RPG Newcomers.


Too long, don’t wanna read, no problemo!
Coming of age Tomato-themed story
Same humor and character design from Mario & Luigi games
A pivotal start to AlphaDream's history with Nintendo
Unique battle system, with 50 ways to fight your battles
Customizable difficulty level for all types of players
Charming character animations
Never officially released, may never be
Kiddish graphical presentation
Disappointing music tracks
Initial dialogue simpler than later game

Concluding Thoughts

Tomato Adventure is yet another fantastic game that the West would have missed out on if it weren’t for independent translators. To those who aren’t fooled by its surface level presentation, a charming RPG with a plethora of ways to play will worm its way into your heart. Much like the way a worm may wriggle itself into a rotten tomato. While Nintendo may never translate the game, its appearance in Super Smash Bros Ultimate shows that someone at Nintendo hasn’t forgotten about it. Sure, they may not have any plans for it now. But if enough fans play this translated version and get the word around to Nintendo, who knows what could happen. Sure they could take down the translation and never release the game like MOTHER 3. But since there are no guarantees either way, why don’t we both go eat a delicious red tomato?

Captain Stitch is the Venerable Leader of the Gordo. You may remember him from his memorable appearance in Kirby's Dream Land 2. But that was nearly 27 years ago now, and so he has a lot of time on his hands. This is his third game review, and he is overjoyed to share this game with you. Sure he’s not big on tomatoes, they aren’t very satisfactory, but he is big on this game. There aren’t too many reviews of this game online (yet!) so hopefully you found this one helpful. If you have played this game, please let Captain Stitch know in the comments below.

Previously, Captain Stitch believes you've never heard of Amazing Penguin but it's also the best game you've never heard of.


  1. So, "the best game you've never heard of" is a series of yours now? Kind of a neat idea not gonna lie.

    Also, should we be getting concerned about Ludwig? I'd expected him to reply to one or both of us on those last two articles by now...I hope he hasn't gotten ill or something.

    1. Yeah i was thinking about that too, hopefully he feels better soon. Although, GordoTV does have... well neverminded.

      Thank you. I think it's a great reason to talk more about my favorite games but it also has lots of potential. People are not going to be searching for Tomato Adventure on a daily basis, but if another LiveALive situation happens, then for a short while we'll be ahead of (the majority of) the gaming media scrambling to get their own articles out.


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