Developer: Wisdom Tree
Publisher: Piko Interactive
Genre: First Person Shooter
ESRB: Not Rated
Lets face it: there is a shortage of Christian themed games out there. Unfortunately the few that have surfaced are not that good, with the exception of Five: Guardians of David. This has been a huge topic in many christian gamer communities, so much that In Episode 8 of the Geeks Under Grace Podcast, the gang discussed what the “perfect Christian game” might look like. Super 3D Noah’s Ark is quite a strange case due to the fact that the development has seen its share of forty days and forty nights. Still, it happens demonstrate a degree of quality.
The original version was released on the Super Nintendo in 1994 and MS DOS a year later. Rumor has it that ID Software had given Wisdom Tree the source code after Nintendo planned to censor Wolfenstein 3D, but it is likely that Wisdom Tree purchased the source code just like every other developer that was making Wolfenstein clones at the time. It feels outrageous to even say that the original intent for that source code was for a game based on the movie Hellraiser. Wisdom Tree later decided that developing this title would ultimately not line up with their beliefs and so they let the rights expire. Thus, Super 3D Noah’s Ark was born and happens to be the only title that was never licensed by Nintendo. The cartridge even required you to place an official game on top of it just to simply play the game at all.
Whether you grew up in a Christian home or not, everybody knows the story of Noah and his ark. Super 3D Noah’s Ark takes things to an unexpected level and gives us a paridoc look at what a day inside the ark might have looked like. The animals have grown restless with only a few days left before the flood will stop. They have broken out of their cages and are stirring up a ton of trouble as a result. It is up to Noah to restore order so that the animals and his family can safely disembark when the time comes. All that is available to Noah is the food that was brought aboard and an arsenal of slingshots to calm the animals to sleep.
Due to the unofficial licensing of this game in its early days on the SNES, it did not receive an ESRB rating. Fortunately, it is safe to say that if this game was rated by the ESRB it would have most likely been E for Everyone. The reason would probably be for cartoon violence which happens to be very little. Some of the animals spit at the player, and no projectiles are shown except one instance where one animal throws fruit. The spitting is depicted with a sound effect and animation and some animals will also kick or ram the player. Even with those very minor things to be aware of, this game is free of any bad or negative content.
First and foremost, this is a Wolfenstein clone. If you have enjoyed that game in the past then you will surely enjoy this one. Instead of shooting Nazis, you are shooting food at animals, and doing this puts them to sleep. To accomplish this, you have access to five different feeders which are basically better versions of your original sling shot and two of them shoot large melons instead of normal feed. When running out of ammo you can hand feed them, but that is not recommended to even attempt unless you plan on getting killed. Luckily, there is plenty of ammo and other things to pick up that will help you to live another day.
A very clever feature in the game are the quizzes. When you pick up one of these, it brings up a multiple choice question with material straight out of the Bible. Getting the right answer will grant you a great deal of health and ammo. These questions are not hard if you have paid close attention in the book of Genesis. In addition to standard health and ammo, fruit pickups can also be collected; grabbing fifty of these grants you an extra life. It is in your best interest to also be on the lookout for knapsacks. When finding of these they will increase how much ammo you can hold. This a welcome addition to the whole concept, and something I don’t remember being in Wolfenstein. The final type of item that needs to be found are the gold and silver keys. In some levels you can reuse them to open secret doors, but are ultimately required to advance to the next area within the level.
As much as I have enjoyed my time with the game, I have to say it can be pretty difficult, even with all those pickups and collectibles at my disposal. On the easiest difficulty, this game may prove to be too hard for its target audience, and it feels odd to say that the reason for this may be due to the gameplay elements utilized to maintain its family-friendly nature. In every shooter there are hit detection animations for when enemies get shot, and this game has none. Of course you are not killing these animals, but you don’t know whether you’re doing “damage” until the animal finally falls asleep. With the smaller animals, this is not a big issue, but is greatly affects the situation with each boss you encounter.
There are multiple versions released of Super 3D Noah’s Ark, and thankfully it is the better MS DOS version that was improved upon. The SNES version of the game obviously came with a lower resolution, but also did not include any floor textures. Again, like Wolfenstein, the game does have repeating textures on the floors, walls, and ceilings. Although with great use of these textures and well designed maps, each floor of the ark feels different from the next. Searching for keys and running through the maze-like corridors throughout all six areas surprisingly succeeds in giving the ark a sense of scale.
Today the most successful indie games contain some sort of unique theme and presentation, and this game fits right into that crowd with its children’s storybook and cartoon style. There are eleven types of animals with six being bosses; all of them are very unique and each have their own behaviors. They may look cute but don’t let that fool you! They are tired, angry, and hungry.
The music may be the most prominent reminder that this game is a re-release. There is some variety here, but the constant looping of the bleeps and blops of the games .midi file tunes can get repetitive if you spend too much time in one area.
Thanks to the folks at Piko Interactive, it is safe to say that Wisdom Tree’s Super 3D Noah’s Ark is not dead; it’s surely alive. It doesn’t quite roar like a lion, but is surely something that every Christian gamer will want to add to their collection, especially for five bucks. It has its flaws just like any other game, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. With a games like this and FIVE: Guardians of David on Steam, I can hope that one day we will see our faith and favorite hobby unite more often. What is your idea of the “perfect Christian video game”? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Bottom Line
Super 3D Noah's Ark aims its feeders at children for its target audience, but may prove to be too difficult for those at a young age. If you are a fan of Wolfenstein 3D but dislike the sub-par ports found on Steam, you will feel right at home on the Ark even if the animals don't exactly make you feel welcome.