The Game: You are one of those ubiquitously cute icons of the ’80s, a Cabbage Patch Kid, and your mission is to convey your pigtailed self across the screen, circumnavigating whatever dangers await you – rolling balls, puddles of water, and so on. You can jump (and, with the aid of strategically placed trampolines, you can jump really high and snag some high-flying bonus prizes), you can swing across water with ropes hanging from trees, and if you mess up any of the above, you can only do it a few times before you’re a Cabbage Patch Greasy Spot on the ground. Remember, the death of any Cabbage Patch child diminishes the entire Cabbage Patch. (Coleco, 1984 – unreleased prototype)
Memories: Essentially a copycat of Activision’s Pitfall, Cabbage Patch Kids was originally released on the Colecovision, capitalizing on Coleco’s two big sellers at the time – that console, and the newly-acquired Cabbage Patch Kids doll license. At this point in the 1980s, video game publishers were virtually clueless about what drew women and girls to some games, and repelled them from others, so it wasn’t uncommon to see bizarro licensing moves such as Cabbage Patch Kids and Strawberry Shortcake. Only development on this game was still ongoing when the bottom dropped out of the video game industry, so the Cabbage Patch Kids were strictly confined to the Colecovision until a 2008 flea market find which put this reasonably finished and playable game into the hands of an Atari collector.
The game certainly would’ve had an interesting look to it, with its colorful surroundings and characters, though the precision of such things as movement control and collision detection was probably still a work in progress. One can barely approach a puddle of water and suddenly find one’s Cabbage Patch Kid going under. Other elements, such as the non-lethal trampolines, prove difficult to escape from. It’s likely that, as reasonably finished as the last revision of Cabbage Patch Kids was, it was still a work in progress, and was thus frozen in that state when work on the title stopped. On the flipside of that, however, there are some really cool things about this game – click on the button above and watch the video, and note the nifty work done on the shadow cast by the player’s character, which grows smaller the higher she jumps and larger as she comes back down to the ground.
There’s also a nagging feeling in the back of my head that Cabbage Patch was really going to be nothing more than “Pitfall In Pigtails”, with different scenery but almost identical play mechanics. It’s possible that this game never left Coleco’s cabbage patch because of a combination of factors – the industry crash and worries that the game would draw fire for borrowing so heavily from Activision’s bestseller. It remains a curiosity – but still a frequently fun one – in the pantheon of unreleased 2600 games.