Video game history is full of interesting (and occasionally misguided) attempts at creating fun games for the masses. Just look at one of my old favorites, Katamari Damacy, a surprisingly addictive game in which a big sticky ball goes rolling around picking up stuff. Or check out this list from Mashable.com.
But one of my favorite oddities in the video game world is called Super 3D Noah’s Ark, a game released by Christian company Wisdom Tree, Inc. for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1994. Based on the Wolfenstein 3D engine from id Software, this was a religious-themed game that has the distinction of being the only commercially-released game not licensed by Nintendo. Legend has it that id Software, makers of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, sold the engine to Wisdom Tree to get revenge on Nintendo for censoring parts of Wolfenstein 3D; clearly, Wisdom Tree’s version was going to be even more censored and take that, Nintendo. Whatever the reason, the fact is that Super 3D Noah’s Ark happened. The game reportedly only worked once it bypassed Nintendo’s lockout chip with help from an official SNES game.
I sadly never played Super 3D Noah’s Ark, but I hear it wasn’t completely terrible. The idea is that the first-person player (Wolfenstein 3D, as you may know, is considered one of the first games of the FPS genre) is the biblical Noah, running around shooting animals on his ark with drugged food so that they’ll go to sleep. Yes, you heard me right. In the game, Noah and his family are just a few days away from dry land, but the animals – including goats and sheep, initially, then camels, giraffes, kangaroos, monkeys, cows, bears, and more – are roaming the ark at will, and they’re hungry (I guess there isn’t enough food on the ark for everyone?). Yet apparently, they’ve bred like…well, rabbits. Noah has a slingshot and berries, and over six levels of the ark he gets better slingshots and better berries, along with more intelligent animals. If you run out of food, I think you get to punch them (where’s PETA when you need them?).
I’ve heard that there was some carryover from Wolfenstein, in that toxic waste and brick dungeon walls made it onto the ark. I would love to see how Wisdom Tree explained that away.
Here’s the great part. As I was researching this post, which I’ve been considering writing for months, I did a Google search and discovered to my complete surprise that Wisdom Tree is re-printing the game. It’s true! You were already able to get it from the Wisdom Tree games website for your (older) PC for $7.50, and now you can buy an honest-to-God SNES cartridge of the game for $65. My timing is pretty awesome. Divine intervention, perhaps? I happen to be an atheist, but if I was a character in a game I’d be sure something more than mere coincidence was going on, and I’d probably go investigate, with slingshot and berries in hand. That is, until I could locate my BFG.