The Eggplants of the NES: A SydLexia.com Special Report
In general, I am not a very picky eater. I will try anything once, provided that it doesn't contain semen, and unless it's absolutely horrible, I'll try it again. In fact, I can count on one hand the list of things I won't eat. First, there's the semen that I already mentioned. Second, there's pea soup, because it looks and smells like sewage. Third, there's clam chowder, because it smells funny and there's no way of knowing for sure that the white viscous substance in that bowl isn't actually semen. Fourth, there's Javanese Lamb Stew, because meat and peanut butter don't mix. Finally, there's eggplant. I really wanted to like eggplant too; it's got an interesting shape and I like the color. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an interesting flavor. Eggplant is the most vile, most incomestible vegetable ever created. I imagine that I am not alone in this opinion either, since only a handful of mainstream recipes use eggplant. And yet, despite its infrequent use in cooking, eggplants received high profile placement in several video games of the NES era. I imagine this is due largely to their abnormal shape and color, but it's disconcerting to realize that the eggplant appears in more NES games than a vegetable that actually tastes good, like an avocado or a cucumber. And just how many games does the eggplant appear in? Well, we're about to find out. At this point in time, it might be helpful for you to scroll down.
Eggplant (Ice Climber)
When the NES debuted in North America on October 18, 1985, two of its launch titles featured prominent eggplant placement. One of these games was Ice Climber, a mountain-climbing adventure in which one or two parka-wearing persons embark on a quest to recover stolen vegetables from an evil condor. And in the game's opening cut scene, guess what the condor is shown stealing? That's right, a fucking eggplant. Unsurprisingly, the eggplant turns out to be the vegetable featured in the first level's bonus stage. There's four of them, and they're worth 300 points apiece. This is the first and last time that eggplants appear in the bonus stage.
Truth to be told, I like Ice Climber about as much as I like eggplants, largely due to the fact that game's controls sucked ass. Your guy could jump about 20 feet on the vertical plane but only about 10 fucking inches on the horizontal plane. Because of this, ascending is way more frustrating and difficult than it should be and you'll miss a platform because you weren't DIRECTLY FUCKING BELOW IT. Every time I play this game, I can't help but imagine how much more satisfying it would be if it used Super Mario physics. If Nana and Popo handled as well as Mario does in his original platform adventure, I wouldn't just kick ass at this game, I would fucking rape it. Sadly they *don't* handle well, I *don't* kick ass at Ice Climber, and I don't really care. Oh well. But getting back to eggplants, Ice Climber was technically the first NES to feature eggplants. Although another NES launch title sported eggplants, Ice Climber can be considered the official debut of eggplants on the system because it was developed first. And on Japan's Famicom, Ice Climber was released five months before that other NES launch title...
Eggplant Man (Wrecking Crew)
Like most of the other NES launch titles that weren't Super Mario Bros., Wrecking Crew features repetitive arcade-style action. It's a decent enough game, aside from the fact that you can't fucking save your custom stages, but it's not nearly as good as the games would follow. Still, Wrecking Crew is a minor classic of the NES era, one of those special games released before Nintendo figured out that video games shouldn't have grotesquely dull box art. And also, it had random eggplants in it. Wrecking Crew, for the most part, had a construction theme to it. Mario traded in his famous cap for a hard hat and ran around demolishing shit, much to the chagrin of the evil foreman Spike and his army of fireballs and living wrenches. But there was another villain in Wrecking Crew, one that didn't quite fit: the Eggplant Man. Eggplant Man was a cyclopean eggplant with arms, legs, and a mouth. His presence in this game makes no absolutely sense whatsoever... I guess someone at Nintendo had a hard-on for eggplants.
Eggplant (Adventure Island 1-3)
When it comes to cute, colorful platform action on the NES, the Adventure Island franchise is second only to Super Mario games. So it's only fitting that the series features the second most famous eggplant in the history of the NES. As the fairly heroic and mildly obese Master Higgins makes his way through the world, he must constantly consume fruit in order to keep his energy level up. However, there is one food that Master Higgins absolutely refuses to eat, and that food is the incredibly inedible eggplant. If he accidentally opens a power-up egg containing an eggplant, it will follow him around and drain his energy until he's in a near-death state. This forces the player to run through the rest of level without stopping, grabbing fruit as quickly as possible in order to prevent Higgins from dying. This will often result in death anyway, as you'll accidentally run into an unforseen pit or enemy while frantically trying to keep your energy bar from hitting zero. Unless, of course, you have the level memorized... in which case you probably wouldn't have fucking triggered the eggplant in the first place.
Eggplant Retainers (Kickle Cubicle)
Somewhere in the blurry space between action game and puzzle game, there is Irem's Kickle Cubicle. Kickle Cubicle is the story of the titular hero, a young man who has the ability to freeze things with his magical ice breath. One day, the evil Wizard King comes to the Fantasy Kingdom and seizes control from the royal family. He freezes over the four lands of the Fantasy Kingdom, imprisons King Tois and his daughters in its four palaces, and traps the rest of the kingdom's residents in Dream Bags. The lone threat to the Wizard King's reign of terror is Kickle Cubicle, who is able to turn enemies into giant ice cubes with his breath and then use those blocks to bridge gaps and solve basic puzzles. In this way, he is able to retrieve the Dream Bags and free the good people of Fantasy Land. The first area that Kickle travels to is Garden Land, which is home to a group of anthropomorphic vegetables. As Kickle travels through the seventeen boards that comprise Garden Land, he rescues two groups of eggplants. Sadly, neither groups offers him advice; they leave that to the corn and the tomatoes. But when Kickle finally clears Garden Land and rescues Princess Pumpa, she is surrounded by Eggplant Retainers. They're not as cool as Mushroom Retainers, but the princess they guard is a lot prettier, largely due to the fact that her sprites are bigger.
Miss Eggplant (Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom)
As I have already stated, I am no fan of eggplant. You can dress it up with with bread crumbs, cheese, and sauce and call it Eggplant Parmesan, and I'll call you a stingy fucking asshole for serving me a budget-minded substitute for Veal Parmesan. I don't fucking care if you use fresh buffalo mozzarella from an authentic Italian deli; there's nothing you can do to make eggplant as good as the sweet, sweet flesh of murdered baby cows. Still, I don't hate eggplants unequivocally. I'd like to, but Miss Eggplant prevents me from doing so. Miss Eggplant owns and operates the Juice Bar in the NES cult favorite Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. She's totally useless, as both types of juice she sells are easily obtained through other means, but she's still an interesting character. Whereas most of the residents of the Salad Kingdom are little more than vegetables with hands, feet, and faces, Miss Eggplant looks pretty much like a regular woman. Aside from her purple skin and leafy green hair, you can't even tell she's an aubergine. Not only that, she's pretty hot. God, I would fuck her so hard. I wouldn't feel bad about fucking her hard either; her skin's already purple so even if I bruised her vagina, she wouldn't be able to prove it.
Eggplant (Dig Dug II: Trapped in Paradise)
Dig Dug II, the sequel to Namco's 1982 hit arcade, is memorable mostly for its distinct lack of both digging and dugging. However, one thing it is certainly not lacking is an eggplant as a bonus item. Starting in Round 2, a bonus item will appear if you drill away a significant portion of the island. In Round 3, that bonus item is an eggplant. It's worth 800 points.
Eggplant (Rainbow Islands)
The inclusion of Rainbow Islands on this list is notable for one reason: it has more eggplants per capita than any other Nintendo game. The game's fourth level, which has a mechanical theme, is littered with eggplants. Each one you pick up is worth 500 points. So if you really like eggplants, play this game. But if you really like Rainbow Islands, avoid the NES version; three whole levels from the original arcade version have been removed along with several power-ups. If you want an authentic Rainbow Islands experience, play the TurboGrafx-CD version.
Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!)
OH FUCK. OH FUCK. OH FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCK. I want to apologize for this. This is NOT supposed to be on the list. Racism is a serious issue and I for one do not think it is at all funny or cute or clever to include Mike Tyson on a list of eggplants. If you would like to learn more about the intensely sensitive issue of racism and video games, please visit the following site: Gamers Against Racism!
Eggplant Soldier (Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom)
Miss Eggplant may be the first eggplant that you encounter in the Salad Kingdom, but she's not the last. The second eggplant is called the Eggplant Soldier, and unlike his predecessor, he actually looks the part. In fact, he looks pretty much EXACTLY like a run-of-the-mill eggplant that someone decided to adorn with sunglasses, a hat, and a fake beard and moustache. The Eggplant Soldier appears late in penultimate chapter of Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, and he is one of the last foes you'll actually have to fight. Although he goes by the lowly title of Eggplant Soldier, he looks more like a general. Specifically, his beard, sunglasses, and attire seem to be modeled after Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. However since the game was released in 1991, the narrative compares him to Panama's General Manuel Noriega. Can you say dated humor? I know you can.
Eggplant Wizard (Kid Icarus)
You knew this was coming, if for no other reason than the fact that I helpfully provided a screenshot of the Eggplant Wizard up at the top of the page. It's hard to say whether or not the Eggplant Wizard would be as famous as he is today if not for his prominent appearances on Captain N: The Game Master. On the one hand, Kid Icarus was a classic NES game. On the other hand, the franchise's lifespan was quite brief. Kid Icarus only had one sequel, a long forgotten Game Boy title from 1991, so it's hard to say if modern gamers would be familiar with the game if it weren't inextricably linked to a goofy, unwatchable cartoon that's a great source of internet memes. But regardless of whether or not the video game Kid Icarus or the Eggplant Wizard character are remembered for the right reasons, they are indeed remembered. And when it comes to eggplants, they don't get much more eggplanty than the Eggplant Wizard. I mean, look at him: he's a living eggplant with an eggplant pimping cane that shoots out magical eggplants that turn YOU into an eggplant. You see that? I had to use the word "eggplant" four times in one sentence to properly describe him. You could almost say that he's the most eggplantiest eggplant around. Except, he's not...
Giant Evil Eggplant Witch Doctor Guy (Adventure Island IV)
I know I promised you a list of eggplants from NES games, not Famicom games. And I know that including a game that was only released in Japan is a slippery slope; I could probably find at least ten games featuring eggplants that were never released in North America. But Adventure Island IV is a special case. Released in 1994, it wasn't just Master Higgins last adventure on the Famicom; it was the last licensed game released for the system. And it kicked ass. Breaking from the level-oriented platform action of previous Adventure Island games, Adventure Island IV was a much more open-ended adventure, not unlike The Adventure of Link or Simon's Quest. And if those comparisons don't make it sound like fun to you, I assure you, it is. But what really makes Adventure Island IV unique is that it really ups the ante. This time around, Tina's not the only one who's been kidnapped; all of your little dinosaur buddies are missing as well. But more importantly, the game takes the protagonist's adversarial relationship with eggplants to a whole new level. When you get to end of the game, you discover that the mastermind behind this whole operation, the supervillain who has trapped your girlfriend in a potato sack, is a giant eggplant that summons smaller eggplants to fight you. Where did this giant eggplant guy come from and why does he want to fight you? Fuck if I know. But I can think of no more fitting way for Master Higgins to end his 8-bit adventures than by confronting his worst fear in an epic final showdown. It's like if the final Indiana Jones film ended with Indy fighting a giant snake that pooped out smaller snakes. Sadly, despite a strong lobbying effort by George Lucas, no such showdown will occur.
This concludes the finest investigative journalism the internet has to offer, my shocking exposé on eggplants and the NES. Some people might say that I don't actually know what investigative journalism is and that this article certainly isn't it. Well, they're wrong. I know exactly what investigative journalism is, as evidenced by the fact that I use the phrase over and over again. Investigative journalism! Investigative journalism! Investigative journalism! Investigative journalism! Hey, are my closing paragraphs getting lazy or what?
Posted by: Syd Lexia
IT'S THE EGGPLANT SOLDIER!