Friday, April 24, 2009

Bring Back Biblical Nintento Games


Two things that have been strangely popular for the past decade are video games and Christianity. The former should be obvious. Wii Sports has turned old people on to playing video games, Rock Band is a house party staple and remember DDR? No brainer, video games are huge. But Christianity is just as big. Every other week, the covers of TIME or Newsweek have something to tell us about the state of America’s faith, and American Idol guests sing songs by Switchfoot and Third Day. Plus, nearly half of the country still votes based on whether or not a candidate subscribes to “Christian values.” If you haven’t realized how massive a force Christianity is in this country, you’ve been playing too many video games.

What I can’t figure out is why the two worlds haven’t collided yet. We got a good dose of ridiculousness a few years ago for the Left Behind video game, but that was ultimately a flop. Where’s the Moses video game? Where’s Spiritual Warfare? Where’s David and Goliath (I mean, they already made the modern TV show, Kings, where’s the Xbox version?)?

About 20 years ago, Nintendo did have “Christian video games.” You could buy them at the Family Bookstores. These games were incredible. They were not legitimate NES games at all. The cartridges weren’t even the standard shape or color. They were subversive in their religious infiltration, marketing solely to the Christian audience. If you didn't grow up in an overly churched family, you didn't know about these games.

I can vividly remember playing a few of them. Bible Adventures, Exodus and Spiritual Warfare were the big three.

Spiritual Warfare was such a trip. It played like the Legend of Zelda, with a view from above and a square-shaped character. But instead of wandering around forests and collecting pieces of the Tri-Force, you wander around forests and find various Fruits of the Spirit. Once you find a piece of fruit, you can use it as a weapon. I think the banana worked as a boomerang, and the apple was like a grenade. I’m not sure if any of these fruits represented peace or kindness, but if so, this game had some serious contradictions at its core.

I also remember collecting different pieces of the Armor of God. Shields and breastplates and what not. And boots, which enabled you to walk over hot tar safely. The boots were a nod to “feet shod with the gospel of peace,” obviously.

The enemies in the game were two-fold, physical and spiritual. That is, simple human beings would walk around, apparently trying to hurt you because of your blatant Christianity. So you were forced to throw fruit at them. If you threw enough fruit, you would eventually kill these people. But that was never the end of the situation. Once the nasty heathens were dead, a red demon would fly out of them, and would also come after you. Luckily the fruit was dualistic, as effective on flesh and blood as it was on metaphysical phenomena.

The Exodus game was similar to Spiritual Warfare in its gameplay, only about 100 times more difficult. I didn’t attempt this one very often, because it was one of the hardest video games I’ve ever played. The game was a total maze, a mix of puzzle and RPG that I never had the patience to endure for more than 15 minutes. As far as Bible video games go, this one was probably the most appropriate adaptation. It probably takes a good 40 years to complete this game, level after level of wandering agony. I really felt empathy for the Jewish people after playing this beast.

Bible Adventures was a real treat though. If I remember correctly, there were three different games that you could play in one cartridge. Noah’s ark, David and Goliath, and one of them was somehow about baby Moses (I didn’t play this one much…).

Noah’s ark was good clean fun. In classic 2D scrolling (think Super Mario Bros.), an old, bald, bearded Noah had to run and jump around mountains and forests, picking up wild animals and dropping them off in the door of the ark. This really brought the story of Noah to life. If anyone ever wondered how every animal in the entire world, male and female, found its way into one boat in a specific geographic location, this game explains everything.

Animals are wild. They didn’t line up single file as they waltzed into the ark, that would be ridiculous. Noah had to go out and collect these animals himself. Snakes, lions, cows, monkeys and every species that can fit into a little cartridge, they’re all here. All you have to do is pick them up above your head, and run them full speed into the ark before time expires. It’s all about time. If you don’t move all of the species into the ark before it's too late, the great flood comes and Noah gets left behind. So to avoid partaking in heresy, you have to win this game.

And this game didn't include any dinosaurs either. I'm not sure if this means that the creators of Bible Adventures were theistic evolutionists or progressive creationists, but all that talk about the dinosaurs being wiped out by the great flood seem glossed over in this game. Maybe it was just a can of worms that Wisdom Tree wasn't prepared to open.

The best Christian Bible game was easily David and Goliath. With a trusty sling, your playing character is young David. In the initial stages, the only danger is wild animals. But with dead aim, you can kill these lions by flinging rocks. A great prelude to the final battle with Goliath is the fight with Goliath’s shield-bearer, an oft forgotten Bible character. As far as Bible stories go, he's very underrated. Verily I say, the shield-bearer was a tougher battle than the 10-foot giant himself.

Once you beat Goliath, you really understood the Biblical concept of violence. All of a sudden it wasn’t just something your parents did on Sundays, Christianity suddenly made sense to the first grade mind after experiencing it on Nintendo. Christianity was about being better than the sinful world that's against you.

It should be no different today. Christians still find victory and success very appealing, and what better way to garner accomplishments than by beating video games? Now would be a perfect time to resurrect the Christian video games. There are so many stories that would make for a great RPG. Jonah and the whale (or “big fish”), Joshua’s battle of Jericho, escape from Sodom and Gommorrah, Gideon, Samson. Samson for crying out loud, that would be amazing! And if these games are successful, maybe they could even do lego versions too.

2 comments:

napoleon says said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
napoleon says said...

remember this?
this is what started our feud, when you became an indian giver by taking this back:

go ahead and copy it, i don't mind. there's a guy from olivet, mark fiske who copied me a couple years ago. his aim name is 'markclub100' and i actually think it's cool. i got the idea from that old website/cable tv show farmclub. i wanted to watch some videos online and i couldn't unless i had a user name and password. so being that i would be a member of the farmclub website, i found it appropriate to call myself dylanclub-member of farmclub. well that's the story. it's an old one. and not as long as the story of the first autumn. but this one happens to be true. take care.
Posted 11/15/2005 4:48 PM by dylanclub - delete - block user - fix language - reply