Bible Adventures (NES) review
"Blast! Sunday has been looming well nigh for lo, a good twelve hours now, and now I wake up to find I am afflicted with sinuses. Gooey green liquid pours out of every orifice in my face, and you can bake a cake by keeping time with me - I hack up a new glob of sputum every thirty minutes on the dot. "
Blast! Sunday has been looming well nigh for lo, a good twelve hours now, and now I wake up to find I am afflicted with sinuses. Gooey green liquid pours out of every orifice in my face, and you can bake a cake by keeping time with me - I hack up a new glob of sputum every thirty minutes on the dot.
Of course, I can't walk into church in my state of dire illness. One breakneck sneeze will unleash a brigade of germs on the congregation the likes of which could go on to infect the entire town. Even now I rare my head back to belt one out, and the germs wait smiling at the back of my throat, ready to be launched into our uncontaminated, unsuspecting atmosphere. I'm able to stifle it ..... this time. Who knows when those unruly critters will find an opening in my nasal defenses and get out to plague the neighborhood at large?
Doubt and self-loathing dishearten me. Without a song in my heart and a clear head to take to church, how am I going to get a heapin' helping of Christian love and gospel truth? As always, the NES has the answer in Bible Adventures, a nifty unlicensed cart that would probably be more aptly entitled Old Testament Adventures, except that the latter is not so marketable as the layman might believe.
Most Wisdom Tree games not only refute the whole message they're trying to get across by effectively breaking the law and bypassing the infamous Nintendo lockout chip, but also rightly get branded with a searing stamp of ignominy - not only the differently colored, differently shaped cartridge, but just an aura of shoddiness exudes from the whole thing, as if to say, ''I am inferior to the likes of Castlevania and Super Mario. Do not even consider touching me, because you will get leprosy if you do.'' Hold off on that thought when you consider Bible Adventures, a game that skillfully integrates the legends of the Old Testament with a couple of standard-fare platforming exercises. And amazingly, the whole hodgepodge actually holds its own through thick and thin. Forget what your friends say; forget that Seanbaby ranked it among the 20 worst NES games of all time (he doesn't have any journalistic integrity anyway); remember that out of all the unwarranted bashing it gets, that someone thought it was good. Don't let the stigma of a mutated cartridge or a religious theme turn you off. There's a heap of good fun that can be found in this little cartridge.
Turning on the game, you're treated to the famous polyphonic chorale that everyone's heard somewhere before, and three choices await you on the title screen: a game based on Noah's Ark, one that has to do with Baby Moses, and one that emulates the whole David & Goliath experience. Three games at your disposal; which one to play first! Your head is spinning, to be sure. Once it stops, let's just take it in baby steps and start from the top.
You know the story. Noah is the only person on the entire planet who is pure of heart and follows in God's footsteps. As such, God is displeased with the direction his creation has taken and tells Noah to build a giant ark so that when God unleashes the enormous worldwide flood he has planned on the sinful population, Noah and his morally upright family don't drown in the ensuing frenzy. He does so, and at the outset of this mini-game, construction of the ark is already complete, and it's up to Noah to gather up the male and female of each species he has listed on his stone tablet. The first animal you pick up are rather docile, and few do anything to hurt you. As a matter of fact, the game is almost a breeze from this first impression. You around, delivering animals who don't do much of anything to the door in the middle of the ark, where they then run submissively to their place in the built-in stable.
Once all 14 are safely in the ark, Noah checks his quota, but he doesn't shut the doors to the ark just yet, oh no. He's got a lot more work to do than meets the eye.
The next level will pit him against a series of quite more unruly animals. Birds will fly through the air, pluck him up off the ground, and drop him all the way back down. Rocks that look like basketballs that have had a chunk bitten out of them roll along the ground and the decks lining the big boat, and Noah's got to keep his bearings together as he jumps over them. You run around picking up small pointy stone tablets which offer comfort through the Scriptures and health for Noah, who can in fact die if all of his stone tablets get chipped away. You discover Noah's balancing act, which allows him to carry a cow, a rack of meat, a duck, and a koala over his head and run with them - all without dropping them! It's rather amusing, and there's a lot of fun to be had in looking for the animals, picking up the nice ones, subduing the mean ones, and dragging them all back to that central point at the ark.
Subsequent levels involve stocking the ark full of food, which plays up the seek-and-find element quite nicely as you try to coax various fruits from some very rambunctious monkeys, face off with some stubborn bulls, and climb up into the trees and among the foliage in search of stalks of wheat and bales of hay (?!?!??!?). After that, the sun sets and Noah heads out into the night for his last pair-gathering escapade, equipped with only a jar of fireflies over his head, in search of the oddest assortment of animals ever gathered together in one place since the apartment scene in the first Ace Ventura movie.
The biggest problem with Noah's Ark is the tedium involved. The level design never varies in the four stages that require you to haul animals to his big floating stable - only the enemies themselves do. Especially in the food-gathering level, boredom will begin to set it, as it inevitably does in games that send you off to fetch a number of objects and bring them back to a central area. I can't think of many other games off of the top of my head that make you do that, but despite being little more than a ''find-this-and-bring-it-back-here'' grocery list of a game, you can do a lot worse than to play Noah's Ark. If you must play one game on Bible Adventures, it should be this one.
In the land of Egypt, Pharaoh has issued a decree that if you give birth to a girl, it lives, and if you give birth to a boy, it dies. Forgive the obvious statement, if you will, but Moses' mother gives birth to him (there it was, in case you missed it) and thinks he's a mighty cute child. All rants about mothers thinking their children are cute aside, there's more to Moses than that he's cute. He's going to be the man who leads the Israelites on their mass exodus out of Egypt via the parted Red Sea and brings the Ten Commandments from down off of Mt. Sinai so that they can be banned from being displayed in an Alabama courthouse 3500 years later.
As Moses' mother, you will embark on a mission that is most reminiscent of Super Mario World 2 for the SNES - that is, you play an intermediary who must carry a defenseless baby from Point A to Point B. The difference in that this game is that you can't make Moses' mother eat enemies and then send them out the back door as eggs. Rather, you have no defense, unless you have no problem with throwing your child at spear-wielding Egyptian madmen, and you'll quickly discover that that doesn't even work.
Baby Moses is a frustrating little game. First of all, there's no way to fend off the relentless hordes of even-toned Egyptians as you struggle to get through even the first level. Secondly, they can pick up Moses too, and you know for sure that they know the decree that the pharaoh issued, and when they see a baby boy out and about, they're going to grab it up and feed it to the fishes. So you're struggling like mad just get to the end of the first level, which isn't even all that long, and you heave a sigh of relief upon reaching the second.
Don't think that leaving the savior of the Jews behind is an option either; if you make it to the end of the level without a strapping baby boy in your arms, you're bluntly told, ''Good job, but you forgot Baby Moses,'' and you're promptly booted back to the beginning of whichever level you made it through without him. The biggest hassle is having to avoid all three big obstacles at once; Egyptian laborers on the ground, swooping birds in the sky, and a rushing river down below. Factor in the slightly raised tiles that give you momentum to bound through the air and the unpredictability that comes along with moving forward off of them, and you've got a rather slipshod mini-game in your hands.
Many have told me that throwing Baby Moses into a pit is the most entertaining part of the game, and they're actually right. Not only is it incredibly therapeutic, but it also gives you an opportunity to explore the short levels without having to worry about the little booger and whether he's soiled his swaddling diaper or not. Worse yet, it slowly dawns on you about five or six stages in that you've been duped into playing levels that are nothing more than palette switches with about twice the amount of enemies on your tail. It is annoying and insulting and would be a lot better if it had guns in it. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
I'll be honest; I didn't bother with finishing Baby Moses. It is the perfect representative of why Bible-based games get the reputation that they do. It's poorly designed, full of platforming implausibilities, and isn't catchy or fun enough to maintain one's interest for a double-digit number of minutes. You may not care what fate has in store for Baby Moses if you fail in his mother's mission to keep him out of the arms of the Egyptians and an endless assault of rogue seagulls and spiders, and that's perfectly fine, because I didn't either.
David & Goliath
The game of David & Goliath recounts the entire life of David, even revisiting his lowly days as a shepherd, represented by your initial mission to complete a series of stages in which you gather four sheep and take them all to a corral, much like how Noah had to gather up various beasts of burden and foodstuffs and take them inside the ark, which you were able to locate because Noah had the foresight to install a big flashing neon arrow above the door indicating where it was. David's corral works much the same way, except that from the message given when you take a single sheep to the corral, you get the feeling that they expected you to take them all there at once. Tomato, to-mah-to.
After four relatively boring levels of this, David leaves his cushy sheepherding position, takes his sling and an infinite supply of stones, and gets ready to face the gigantic Goliath, in a matchup that, these days, you could easily relate to the prize fight between Little Mac and Mike Tyson, except that this one nurses a substantially larger dependence on the use of pebbles as a projectile. Best of all, though, this means that this game has a major advantage over the other two, in that you actually have a means of self-defense. This puts it light years ahead of Baby Moses, but it still doesn't quite hold a candle to Noah's Ark.
It takes a little bit of fancy footwork and shepherd's ingenuity to get to the top of the mountain, but after you achieve this and defeat the small shrimpy minion with the body-length shield, Goliath will appear. As per legend, all it takes is a solid stone in the noggin to make him collapse in one hit. The rest of him, however, is impervious to any sort of damage whatsoever. You can throw a thousand rocks at his shins, stomach, chest, arm, etc. and not do a lick of damage to the nine-foot wonder. I think I even registered a hit squarely in the groinal region (pardon the neologism) and he didn't flinch - he just laughed the hearty laugh of a champion and stomped the ground with his size 59 sandal. If that's not the true measure of a man, I don't know what is.
Thing is, once I finally scored that hit on the mighty titan, it was all over in an instant, and I was ejected to the game selection screen. A contrived ending was thrust in my face, and there I was with nothing to do having completed the other three games. In the face of all the bashing reviews on this site and many others, I will boldly take a stand and say:
I wish there had been more.
All in all, you can do far, far worse than to add Bible Adventures to your collection. To tell the truth, I came into this review with all the master's bashing tools at my side only to find I didn't have to use them too much. Except in the case of Baby Moses, the other two mini-games come together to fuse into a product that I would proudly display near the middle of my Plastic Tub O' Cartridges™. It's far better than the other Scripturally oriented games I've played, and it doesn't even star Jesus! It lacks a few extra sparks of innovation to make it a true standout, but considering that it's unlicensed (almost never a good sign), moderately challenging, and scores an easy thumbs-up on two of its three mini-games, that's enough for it to succeed on its own merits.
So when Sunday morning comes skipping 'round the corner and you have a raging sinus infection, case of the flu, bubonic plague, etc. that keeps you from setting foot in church, stick this sore thumb into your NES and get your divine inspiration from it instead. It may not be quite like reading the actual book, but it's a heck of a lot more interactive, and for once you get to see what it's like to run like the wind while hefting a koala over your head.
In the end, I suppose it comes down to the overcommercialized question: ''What would Jesus do?'' Would he play this game? I like to think he would.
Community review by snowdragon (December 09, 2003)
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