One of my most distinctive childhood memories: I woke up before sunrise on a Saturday morning. It was raining. To be more specific, there was freezing rain pelting the windows. I turned on the television. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was playing. Not the crappy National Lampoons-esque movie (which I really WANTED to like) but the cartoon, which I loved.

Allow me a brief digression from my initial digression. My issue with the movie wasn’t the poor production quality. I love a lot of movies with terrible production values. The fact that the killer tomatoes in the movie were just regular tomatoes rolled across the screen? Love it. No, what bothered me was the constant, unfunny attempts at social satire.  

Okay. Now, I’ve got to close the circle somehow and make this blog somehow video game relevant. Not to worry, I have a plan.

In 1983, Atari released the game Revenge of the Beefsteak Tomatoes. Humanity, it seems, has an endless fascination with the murderous fruit. Why are these particular tomatoes on the rampage? Well, according to the box, “Perhaps it was a form of protest against bottled Ketchup, or maybe they were provoked by acid rain.”

The game manual described your objective thusly, “Your objective is to trap the Tomato Plants at the bottom of the screen by building three walls above them.  At the same time you must avoid or shoot down all flying Tomatoes, dodge Tomato Bombs and stop the Brick-Eaters.”

To build the walls you had to capture a brick as it moved across the screen and then drop it into place. Green bricks had to be used to build the bottom wall, pink bricks for the middle, and gold bricks for the top.

While building the wall, you had to avoid bombs from the tomato plants at the bottom of the screen and the flying cherry tomatoes. There were also roving beefsteak tomatoes to contend with as you captured bricks. In later levels, there were also brick eating tomato vines.

As bar as the concept was, the promotion for the game was even stranger. Two people dressed as tomatoes attended Superbowl XVII holding protest signs that read, “Beefsteak Tomatoes Demand Revenge!” Apparently, one of the women dressed as a tomato complained that a fan tried to squeeze her.

And that, my friends, is today’s display in the Cabinet of Curiosities.

I remain, as always,

Just Another Geek In the Geek Kingdom

Shaun Jex Shaun Jex (0 Posts)

Shaun Jex is a lifelong gamer, a journalist, and pop culture historian.His love of video games began with a Commodore 64 he played growing up, late night sessions on his NES, Game Boy and Sega Genesis, and frequent trips to the local Tilt arcade. He edits the Citizens' Advocate newspaper in Coppell, Texas and writes about Disney and Walt Disney World history for Celebrations Magazine and the Celebrations Magazine blog. He runs a weekly vlog called "The MCP" dedicated to retro video games, and a channel with his wife Kara called "The Marceline Depot," dedicated to Disney, amusement parks, and travel.