The Game: Tom the plumber smells a rat – actually, he smells a lot of them, and they’re all crawling around the plumbing, breaking pipes and planting bombs. While this is generally atypical rodent behavior, Tom only cares about knocking the rats off the pipes, fixing the broken sections, and making sure the bathtub at the bottom of the screen fills in time for a lovely lady to take a shower. (With her bikini on.) Obviously she isn’t worried about the rats. (Nichibutsu, 1980)
Memories: This oddball entry from Nichibutsu, a.k.a. Japan’s Nihon Bussan Co., Ltd., is an interesting mix of climbing and puzzle games, once again proving that perhaps Nichibutsu missed its calling to innovate in the coin-op industry. Frisky Tom does, however, include a little hint of the direction Nichibutsu would take in later years: the “bathing beauty” scenes in the game are barely a shadow of what currently makes up the bulk of Nichibutsu’s output – R-rated versions of games like Mah-Jongg for the Japanese market. The hints were always there – Frisky Tom‘s bikini-clad woman, the kissing woman in Crazy Climber 2 – but the bulk of Nichibutsu’s output these days is decidedly adults-only. Frisky indeed.
With that in mind, it’s ironic in hindsight that Atari – who had sued at least two companies for making unauthorized X-rated Atari 2600 games such as Custer’s Revenge – forged a very brief alliance with Nichibutsu just prior to video game industry crash. The results of this licensing agreement didn’t even necessarily make it out of the starting gates: a version of Crazy Climber was released as a fan club exclusive for the Atari 2600, but a version of Frisky Tom for the Atari 5200 was aborted, despite the game being more or less finished.
Frisky Tom was later available in arcade-perfect translations for the SNES and Playstation as part of the Nichibutsu Arcade Classics compilation.