Retro Replay: Bible Adventures

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My mother passed away recently. She didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up and video games were expensive, not to mention that as a child I couldn’t go outside as much, so I would burn through them quite fast. Her reluctance to purchase a new adventure for my Nintendo was overlooked though when a family member told her about Bible Adventures, and soon I had a fresh new game that was ordered from a catalog with the hopes I would enjoy it and maybe learn something. I honestly remember being a little excited, with the prospect of three games in one cart, and I could make experiences that mom wouldn’t mind me going on and on about for a while, but she and I asked Bible Adventures to live up to some pretty high expectations.

This game was developed by Wisdom Tree, a company with its own interesting history, who made Christian-themed games and was one of the first companies to successfully work around Nintendo’s lockout chip, which meant that their titles did not have to be licensed and cut out the middle man and need to make their own technology. I’m not sure that sounded very “Christian” to Nintendo. They bypassed the chip by having the game emit a voltage surge when the console turned on, which admittedly sounds creative. Released in 1991, it was sold mostly in Christian bookstores and through catalogues as I mentioned above, but I have heard of it popping up in a few other places. The game has a small dedicated community, and interestingly enough, anyone wanting to can still buy different versions or reproductions of the game from their site to this day. It would later be ported to the Sega Genesis, but for some reason that did not happen until 1995, and it doesn’t look much better than its NES counterpart, so I’m not sure why this happened.

For those not familiar, the title actually has three smaller games in it, each of which has multiple levels. Upon starting the game there is a recap for anyone unfamiliar with the bible stories these are all based in and some scriptures. There are also tablets spread around in each story that may be picked up for health, while either showing a hint for the game or saying something from the Bible. It is hard to tell if the controls are bad, the mechanics should have been tweaked more, or a bit of both, but characters will feel floaty, players will slip and fall off of platforms an annoying amount of times, and jumping is frustratingly hard to perfect. Most point out how similar the game feels to Super Mario Bros. 2, and that isn’t hard to believe after playing this for five minutes. I also need to recommend putting this game on mute while it is played and blasting some other rocking biblical tunes—I still own some DC Talk and Jars of Clay if anyone needs—because the same short piece of music is repeated through each mode and does eventually become tiring. I also witnessed a few funny glitches, watching animals and soldiers getting stuck awkwardly in the backgrounds. Many of the levels will seem too familiar as re-colored and recycled environments that could have used more detail and a little touching up.

In David and Goliath the boring job of rounding up sheep is left to the player, and they can’t even give the boy a stick. Acorns however work to stun enemies until David gets his slingshot in the later levels, and it is garbage, but this horrible weapon kills the final boss with one hit to the head. Some may say it is a bad end battle, but there is something to be said for keeping to the source material.

In Baby Moses the Pharaoh’s decree has put Miriarm’s infant brother in danger, so she carries him high above her head like a crate and jumps around to avoid various enemies who will throw him into the river, killing the baby. This is classic NES Bible violence, where the bad guy’s seem quite brutal without an ounce of blood. There is no way to defend against the enemies other than defensive moving and some quick reactions, but the player can finish the level without Moses, though the game scolds you for it.

In Noah’s Ark the main man himself is a pro weightlifter and can hold four large animals above his head as he carts two of each kind back to his boat to prepare for the oncoming flood. Some animals are more elusive though and the player will be forced to knock them out with something, and the notorious fake snakes that will damage Noah. The environment does change later on, but in a trifecta of repetitive games, this is the most mind-numbing one, and yet this is the mode I found myself playing the most.

As a kid I didn’t like the game that much, but not having many others to play, I kept playing it. It doesn’t take long to beat though, with only a couple of hard parts at the end, and eventually sat in my closet untouched once I get a new game. For some reason though, I continued to come back to it, especially on emulation, even playing the title on stream as a joke sometimes. It isn’t a horrible game though, just monotonous. It gets some flack for the title and theme, but I’ve seen it appear on some “Worst NES Games” lists for the gameplay, which I don’t get. I might never recommend Bible Adventures to anyone, but at least it works, was a completed game, and the gameplay kept my attention for a bit, which is a lot more than I can say for some titles. Sure, I would have preferred a list of other games over this, but I think in the end my mother got her money’s worth, and other than making her try Wii Sports Boxing, it’s the only video game memory I really have with her.

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One who writes for different places, waking up late in the day to struggle with commas, broken controllers, and nightmares of Silent Hill and Yo! Noid.