Wisdom Tree. We meet again. This is the same group behind Super Noah’s Ark 3D, though this is obviously one of their earlier efforts, and not an attempt at repainting an existing secular game. They also deserve some credit for successfully and legally releasing a game without Nintendo’s fascist “Seal ‘o Approval.” One of the many things on Nintendo’s black list were religious references, hence the need for such an “underground” release. If you are a loud and proud Christian, you may see this as a victory. On principle alone, sure, it is. But you haven’t actually played the game yet, and it is not quite The Greatest Videogame Story Ever Told.
Bible Adventures is a series of minigames based on three of the OT’s (the OT will be starring Kirk Cameron and appearing on the WB this fall) classic stories. You can play as Noah, rounding up pairs of animals to place in his Ark. You can play as Moses’ mama as both flee the Egyptians in Exodus. Finally, you can play as David as he rounds up sheep – rounds up sheep? – oh, and THEN takes on Goliath. Each of these games is selectable from the title screen at the start, so you won’t actually complete the game as a whole, but you will be able to skip over any of the games that don’t suit you.
I would have to say that Noah’s Ark is my favorite of the series. It’s the most straightforward, and the most casual. You play as old man Noah running around or bounding through tree limbs to snare all the critters in the area. When you find a new animal, you press B to hoist it over your head, and shuffle and platform-hop back to a hatch in the Ark. Your goal is to collect a male and female of each species. I know what you’re thinking. How will you tell the difference? Some have different colors, some are drawn differently, some like the pigs and the monkeys look EXACTLY the same.
Ultimately, it won’t matter. When you deposit an animal in the ark you get a screen of a tablet, checking off the male or female box for the animal you just snagged, and showing what animals you have left. That animal will also be removed from the gameworld, so it’s just a matter of catching them all. Whew. I was worried for a moment that you’d have to identify them through more obvious ways.
Surprisingly, the section isn’t timed, which is awfully nice of God to hold off on the flood. It’s also not particularly difficult, as you’re pretty sprightly for an old fella. Hopping platforms comes easily, and though you will occasionally drop your cargo after jumping on a new ledge, you can usually pick it up again right away. The game increases in difficulty through about four levels, with more and more animal requirements, but never got to be too much. Mostly this game sets the stage for the others, introducing you to the “carrying engine” – as all three will require you to carry something for uncomfortable distances under increasing levels of duress. It also trains you to pick up the white tablets scattered about. Picking these up will either give you a hint or a condensed Bible quote, and also add to your total life. Oh come on, you get the symbolism.
About the only real difficulty in the Noah section are the animals that don’t want to be caught. Some charge, trample, or throw things at you, but the damage they cause is easily cleared by picking up some of the generous amounts of tablets. Others, like the slippery pigs, must be distracted with food before you can sneak up and bag them. I’ll leave you to discover for yourself how you’ll coax not one, but two snakes out a tree.
Baby Moses has you carrying Baby Moses along the banks of the Nile, to a place where he won’t be drowned by the Egyptians following the Pharoah’s “no Israelite sons” rule. Unfortunately for Baby Moses, you will probably be the cause of his watery demise. This game takes the carrying from the first game, and applies it to … let’s just shorten it to BM from now on. You can set down BM, which leaves him open to be tossed in the river by soldiers. Mostly, you’ll want to use B to pick him back up after he is inevitably knocked from your grasp by spiders or hiding thugs. You can, if you so desire, sprint all the way to the end, sans BM. You’ll win… sorta… but with an ending that both congratulates you on making it, and slaps you lightly on the wrist for forgetting Moses. How can you say “Good Job” when you’ve left Lil’ Moses baking in the desert? It’s only, you know, Moses.
Oh, and there is the Nile, and BM’s lack of buoyancy. Should he be catapulted from your hands and land *Ker-sploosh* into the river, you simply have to return to the beginning of the level, where a new Moses will be waiting. Miracles do happen.
I guess there’s some mild amusement to running the gauntlet with BM atop your head, but not a great deal. The sheer numbers of enemies you will face, plus the wild springy blocks so prominent for the time, plus the beckoning call of the river, make this an average game with a difficulty not offset by the frequency of tablets. About the only thing going for you is your ability to unceremoniously toss your infant charge, pick up stones scattered about, and heave them atop the skulls of the soldiers.
There are still not enough stones to clear the way comfortably, and anytime BM is not in your grasp is a moment where he is somehow going to end up in the river. In fact, many a time I was flying through the air on a wacky spring block, watching Moses drift away like the fumble I failed to secure. All but one (obviously) of my attempts to take Moses across the desert ended with him in the drink, or me trapped in a corner getting stabbed by soldiers while BM watched, looking adorable all the while.
But if you weren’t impressed by Baby Moses, wait ’til you get to David and Goliath! David and Goliath, the classic tale of the boy who would be king taking on a giant who’s been a warrior all his life begins… with carrying sheep. To a pen. Just like Noah’s game! There’s really nothing I can say about this section that wasn’t already covered in Noah’s. Carrying sheep is the same, dodging animals is the same, except that this time they are considerably more aggressive. I suppose there’s some metaphor here, about David learning to become a shepherd of man, but in game terms, it’s an obvious and boring rehash of the same game you already played.
After far too much sheep corralling, the final level here has you taking out bad guys with a slingshot, sort of like Dennis the Menace. Then you send Goliath and his shield guy careening off a cliff. You won’t feel like the King of Israel when you’re done, I didn’t even feel that good about it in general, to be honest. But you will have won this section.
And that’s the game. To set the record straight, despite the fact that game’s box prominently features the parting of the Red Sea, no seas of any color will parted in this game. I don’t want you to be disappointed by unfulfilled expectations.
The graphics, by “Nina,” are excellent and very cute throughout all the games. I’m especially impressed with the opening character slides on the menu screen – cartoony, but still very detailed for the NES. Moses looks cute enough to throw into the river. The background music, by “Generic,” is not quite so impressive. All of them use the same serious, slightly menacing theme. I mean, sure I’m determined, but at the end of the day, I’m just picking up a pony and throwing it into a wooden ship, fellas. I also don’t know why the Bible quotes type out on the stone tablets with the sound of a Telex machine.
Well, for the scummy, unbelieving heathen that I am, I think I’ve covered the game pretty fairly. Part of this may be because I do give credit to the stories of either Testament or the Torah for being passed around for so long, helping give comfort to people who draw something from them, and for being interesting tales in their own right. Don’t get to excited though, I also give credit to Scientology for raking in as much money as they have. If you’re going to make a game out of Bible stories, they at least got it right. I wouldn’t call it a teaching tool though, nor would I call it a refreshing use of secular entertainment for enriching purposes – unless you prefer to wrap yourself and everything around you ONLY in Christian trappings, in which case this is a videogame you can play. But if that’s the case, how the HELL did you get to this site?
But as far as executing its presumed goal – teaching young kids about Bible stories – it’s kinda… ehh. I suppose it could be a good supplement to Sunday School, I suppose it could show kids that “Wow, Noah sure went through a lot of trouble and made a lot of sacrifices,” but it’s still, ultimately, rather… ehh. If you want a game, there are better non-blood n’ guts ones out there. If you want a Christian game, well, I guess you should follow my recommendation for adapting any organized religion to your life – take what I said about this game and form your own opinion about it.
If you’re gonna make a Bible videogame…
Not the best Biblical teaching tool, but a non-offensive game for the kids, if that’s your thing.