“The world is under attack from vegetables, turned evil by dastardly aliens! You must answer the call and take up arms to defend the planet.”
That’s it – simple. You have a purpose, now go get some!
The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition is a twin stick shooter – left analogue stick to move, right analogue stick to aim, and L to shoot – that sees you take on hordes of fruit and veg with rouge-like elements. It’s like someone took the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and decided “let’s add more fruits and toss in some veg to make an evil broth”. Set within an 80’s VHS art style, it includes a few nods to 80’s trends and film.
The game starts in the police station, where the Police Chief is pacing up and down his office. With no idea what he is going to do, he realises he needs to call “him” (you). Your character gets a phone call telling him to get to the police station. To show your guy means business, he throws his phone away, which starts a small tutorial. After this, you make it to the police station and get told that you have to go and kill all the mutated vegetables.
Guns, Guns, and Coffee
At the start of every run, you will have a simple pistol with infinite bullets, a nightstick for melee attacks, and a cup of coffee. Yeah, I nice hot cuppa Joe. Fear not, the arsenal is vast and every time you find or buy a weapon, it would almost seem like there is no end to the different types of vegetable-pulverising options you are given.
Main weapons range from a BlunderBuss, to a fire spitting ChilliGun, to everything you could imagine, even some that you couldn’t! You can only equip two at a time, which can be changed by pressing Y. Any other weapons you have are kept on a weapon-select wheel by pressing LZ. These can be changed for the weapon currently equipped at any time.
Along with the guns are a plethora of melee weapons, and you can have one equipped at any given time. Melee weapons function firstly to dice up some unruly veg that have gotten a little too close, but also to hit projectiles back to the enemies. On top of all of that, there are loads of throwable items you can use: the cup of coffee, for example, leaves a puddle that slows down the food to be pulverised easier.
Weapons and items can be found by unlocking chests with keys that you find around the map and by destroying your evil side salads. They can also be purchased at a shop. Keys are a very important collectable; these allow you to unlock chests, but also allow you to unlock doors.
You collect coins for making the fruit and veg disappear and there is a lot of them, so money will quickly mount up. What you really want are the crystals from boss fights, you should really try to save them up, as these get you the BIG guns. There will be many playthroughs before you see all the weapons. It’s good – each playthrough lasts around 45 minutes, depending on the luck of your drops or keys. I completed The Walking Vegetables three times, and started… well, I lost count after the 18th run, and I was still finding new weapons. I would have liked it to be a bit longer though.
Along with the insane amount of ways to dispatch the food, you will eventually start unlocking skills. These are done by completing challenges within the game, with 22 skills to unlock. These skills do make the runs easier; for instance, unlocking an extra heart. Not only that, it’s part of the fun trying to unlock them.
This is not healthy food
The killer food is very diverse with their own attack patterns, as well as their looks. At one point, you could be fighting a very angry pineapple (my personal favourite) that rolls about erratically, then a carrot moving at break-neck speeds hits you from nowhere. Some leave pools of acidic fluids, while others shoot at you. It gets frantic to the point that you will be overwhelmed if you don’t move. I have not been so excited to get rid of fruit and vegetables since I got away with binning half a plate when I was 5, my mum didn’t even notice!
The level map is split into a 4×3 grid with a simple purple road, and shows the locked houses around the map. It is also a good way to find where that last broccoli is (it’s always a broccoli). Each tile is its own self-contained wave of enemies. Once a wave is cleared, then you are free to walk around without fear on that tile. You are directed by purple arrows on where the next tile is that you have not explored, and a blue arrow for the direction you have explored. The world is littered with items you can smash that can drop bullets, hearts, and keys. Remember: break everything. The camera is in a fixed isometric position, facing north at all times. When you wander or run behind a building, the building fades, allowing you to see what you are doing and this works perfectly.
The maps and houses are procedurally generated, making each run seem different. Mixed with the random drops, each run is fun, even if you see the same trash pile in a different location.
As you wander the world in all its glory, you will encounter a little green man, who will fly onto the screen in his speedy little cube and attack you. Once you have dispatched this “sub boss”, he will radio for the boss fight. Out from below the ground, comes a purple – they like purple in The Walking Vegetables – rocket ship. They will transport you to the stage boss. This, personally, was where I really enjoyed the game. Bosses are bigger, stronger versions of some normal enemies with their own attack patterns and abilities. At some points in the fight, it looks like a bullet-hell game with the projectiles flying around. Then, the end of each fight is something special that just makes me smile every time.
Too much, so little time
I have gone over what I have personally liked in The Walking Vegetables with excited glee, but, taking a step back from my excitement, I can see the other side. I can see why someone would not like this game. From a control point, you stay aiming in the last direction you pointed, regardless which way you walk. This can be disorientating to start with and off-putting.
Also, with so much going on at one time, it could be overwhelming for people not used to twin-stick games. Not to mention how it ramps up the concentration needed on bosses. Even I got annoyed at times with the bosses. Starting from scratch each time you die will definitely put some people off, too. The game could be a little too short for them and they may not like to replay it over and over.
The music in The Walking Vegetables on Switch is at a high standard. It’s a mix of playful 80’s music from games of that time and full blown electro-pop, with an occasional slow saxophone number. All the music will remind you of the 80’s, and I love it all. I just wished there was more of this amazing music.
Each weapon has its own sound when you pull the trigger. Not only that, it has weight behind the shots, making powerful weapons sound powerful. It does a good job all-round.
Visuals & Performance
The Walking Vegetables is presented in a polished pixel-art style. By default, it has a VHS filter on, making it look like a video tape replaying – but this can be turned off. Its over the top, psychedelic effects are perfect for this game. Keeping with the 80’s style, there are visual sound effects like ‘Kaboom!’. On top of that, if enemies are hit, they go flying into the screen. Even though you are supposed to dislike the fruit and veg, I found them somewhat cute, and wish some of them were plushies – I’d definitely buy some of them.
I had no problems with the performance at all. Everything ran nice and smooth for both handheld and docked mode. No slowdowns, even with lots going on.
For £9.99 GBP, it’s a bargain. The amount of weapons and replayability alone is worth the price tag. It’s a cheap game with lots to offer.
Loads of salad fodder
Fun Boss battles
Short play time
Can become too hectic at times
Lack of music tracks