We trust Jake implicitly, so when he says he wants to review Super 3D Noah’s Ark for your reading pleasure then we duly let him. If you want to see more of this kind of behaviour check out his excellent YouTube channel.
If someone asked you to name a fun Christian-themed video game, chances are that nothing would come to mind, even after a montage of numerous Google searches. After all, virtually all games like these are either low-budget, low-quality, or are far too preachy to enjoy. It was not uncommon for console video games back in the nineties to be put on unofficial, third-party game carts that were not licenced by Nintendo or any other official game company at the time in order to appeal to Christian gamers – a niche market.
Developing team Wisdom Tree came up with a delightfully devilish idea: disguise the Nazi-slaying simulator Wolfenstein 3D on the Super Nintendo as a family-friendly game with new visuals, cheerier music, and not a single mention of Mecha-Hitler (awwwww – Ed). The game was not a SNES cartridge in the traditional sense, instead the back of the box insists that a licenced game had to be “piggy-backed” on top of it after being slotted into the console. Regardless, the end result is a flavourless, gimmicky experience, if surprisingly competent compared to some of the trashy titles that have been paddled out for a quick bit of cash back in the day. It’s playable, but there’s not much else to praise.
The plot is ridiculous enough. Noah’s created a brand new ark, but the animals have grown restless and have multiplied drastically so he’ll need to put them all to sleep. Literally. He’s not so keen on the idea of killing them (sadly), but at least he doesn’t have to go through copious amounts of scripture to get the job done. The objective of each of the thirty (approx) maps on offer is to find the exit, collecting keys and fruit as you go. Much like Wolfenstein 3D, the levels are little more than labyrinths and mazes with ninety-degree turns and an abundance of corridors, but also some secret areas that he must’ve known about in the first place when he made the sodding boat. Hey, at least there’s a map to look at, and a password system to jump ahead in the game.
If you thought Quake’s colour palette was limited, then you’ll shiver at the fact that there are more brown walls here than in a British pay toilet. To its credit, Super 3D Noah’s Ark has some cartoonish visuals and runs at a stable framerate, but everything looks very blurry at a distance. Sidenote: Noah must be pretty vain, as plenty of levels are decorated with pictures of himself.
The enemies of the game are nothing more than naughty animals, like goats that headbutt you, ostriches that spit from afar, and even a few “boss animals”. A bear hiding in shrubbery (unaware that his camouflage doesn’t work on a sodding wooden boat with predominantly brown interiors) replaces Mecha-Hitler as the final boss of the game, but all in all the fights aren’t too daunting and don’t require a lot of skill or complex tactics. Just run and shoot. In fact, the difficulty setting only really changes the amount of health and ammo you will find.
Speaking of which, your weapons of choice are fruit-flinging slingshots. One fires really quickly, while the other pelts melons at enemies, which seems to pierce right through them. Combat is repetitive, samey, and pretty boring, much like level exploration. It’s not as daunting as Wolfenstein 3D, but the gameplay has not been improved in any way.
What better sounds to accompany the antics of an old man knocking out ungrateful critters by bonking them into submission with food than a handful of annoying sound effects and some forgettable music? If you love bass, then you might get a bit of a kick out of these bass-led MIDI tracks, but the last thing you want to hear alongside these ditties are a series of irritating pops, boings, and stupid pseudo-animal noises squeaking away in the background.
For a bible-centric video game, this is about as light-handed as it’s going to get. No pop quizzes, no scripture readings, nothing of the sort. Even then, Super 3D Noah’s Ark is still a flat, dull first-person shooter. It suffers from the same issues as Wolfenstein 3D: samey textures, repetitive gameplay, a meager selection of weapons and enemies, and forgettable level design. Only, Wolfy wasn’t trying to cram cheeriness down your throat with irritating sound effects and pretentiously peppy music. Is it unbearable to play? Certainly not, but you would likely get more kicks out of a sermon than this.