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Review: Super 3-D Noah's Ark

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
While there are many great games out there, this is one manages to be good fun and stay fairly true to Christian moral values.

If you're looking to add a new game to your collection, consider this one!

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Ages 6 and up
Genre: First Person Shooter
License: Commercial
Release Year: 1994
Review Published On: February 3rd, 2021
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Itch.IO, Steam

Save System:

There is no autosave*, but you can save* your game at any time during a level via the pause menu. To bring up this menu, press ESC*.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Although this game plays like any other First Person Shooter, you're scattering feed instead of firing bullets. Thus, enemies* who are defeated simply fall asleep instead of dying.

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
Putting animals to sleep

[view screenshot]
A little trivia now and then never hurt

[view screenshot]
Dancing with Elephants



Game Overview

I've encountered a great many ridiculous games in my 30+ years of gaming, but I really wasn't prepared for this one. So, to begin this unusual review, let's take a brief look back in time and talk about how this wonderfully absurd game came about.

Originally, this was going to be a video game adaptation of Hellraiser. Seriously: the founder of the family-friendly Wisdom Tree brand was a big fan of the 1987 horror movie, and wanted to make a game based it. So Wisdom Tree found itself licensing the engine* used for Wolfenstein 3D in order to make their game fairly easily. However, development issues arose early on, and this eventually led the game being shuffled from system to system until the developers settled on a DOS* and SNES release. Unfortunately for Wisdom Tree, id software released Doom during this time, and so games using the older, less capable, Wolfenstein 3D engine* were being overshadowed. Also, by this point Wisdom Tree's management had started questioning the impact that releasing a violent horror game would have on their brand. So, the project was retooled into the Christian game we have today. It mostly saw release in Christian bookstores, and ultimately had abysmal sales. Today it's something of a novelty with its own little fandom, and it's been rereleased on Steam using the upgraded ECWOLF engine.

The story of Super Noah's Ark opens late into the famous Ark's voyage. It's been afloat for months, as the Flood has yet to run its course. But, now that the journey is almost over, some of the animals have become restless and are causing trouble throughout the ship. This is where you come in. As Noah, you'll wander the many halls of the Ark, using a series of increasingly bizarre slingshots to scatter feed around each animal. Once their bellies are full, they'll just go back to sleep, and things will settle down again. But this isn't an easy task, as the rambunctious animals are going to kick, spit, and even throw coconuts at the patriarch.

Now, since this game was made using the Wolfenstein 3D engine*, you can expect the gameplay to be similar. For example, the levels are completely flat, there's scoring, and most of your weapons draw from the same pool of ammunition. But things really change beyond those superficial bits. Damage is now calculated on a per-hit basis instead of the elaborate system used in Wolfenstein 3D. This makes the "combat" more reliable, and you're less likely to get instantly defeated by something that snuck up on you. It still can happen, you can just do something about it now. There are also two very powerful special weapons -- a coconut launcher and a watermelon launcher -- that use their own ammunition.

Unlike vanilla* Wolfenstein 3D, there's also an automap feature and an item that reveals the entire level map if you can find it. Of course, being a Christian game, you can also find pickups that present you with trivia questions about the Biblical story of Noah's Ark. Answering them correctly provides bonus points, healing, and extra animal feed, so keeping an eye out for them can really help you out in a difficult situation.

As crazy and weird as this game is, it turned out to be a lot of fun. The people behind it knew what they were doing, and they made something that they should be proud of, even though it was a bit of a flop during its original release. If you like First Person Shooters, and I'd wager a lot of gamers like you do, I'd definitely recommend this cheerful romp. It's more than worth the entry fee.

Points of Interest

30 levels of animal feeding fun
That's thirty levels total, not necessarily the number of levels you'll see in any given playthrough. This is because each episode has a different number of levels, and there are a handful of secret* levels for you to discover.
Bible trivia ranges from easy to hard
Christian games love to include trivia, even when it doesn't exactly make sense for the there to be any. This can also be a problem if the trivia questions are too easy or too obscure, and I'd say that Super Noah's Ark manages to balance them out pretty well. They can range from easy questions that most children can get right (eg, "How many times did Noah release the dove?") to unexpectedly tricky (eg, "How old was Noah when the flood came?"). There's even an achievement* for answering these right, so be prepared to read up if you're going to try and earn them all.
Hidden collectibles and secrets
Wolfenstein 3D had you collect random treasure for extra points. This has been tweaked into locating different types of fruits. It's still for bonus points, but there's also an achievement* for finding all of them. Additionally, each level is peppered with loads of secret* areas for you to find and explore. These become increasingly important as you progress in the game, as regular pickups start becoming rarer the farther along you get.
The religious content doesn't ruin it
I know that a lot of people won't like the idea of playing a Christian game simply because of the religious content*. In a lot of these games, the need to shoehorn in Christian references gets in the way of just having fun, but thankfully, Super Noah's Ark isn't one of those games. Only the setting and Bible trivia questions rely on religion, and you need to deliberately collect the trivia items in order to interact with them. The rest of the game is a fun and lighthearted FPS*.
Steam community features
This Steam rerelease comes complete with 27 achievements* and a set of Steam trading cards*. Some of the achievements* are simply earned by completing levels, but the majority are earned by finding all of the secrets, fruits, and other surprises that are scattered throughout the Ark. A few of the achievements* require you to play through an entire episode in one long session, so plan ahead if you're going to go for those.

Concerns and Issues

It's not really violent
Just to clarify again: you're feeding the animals, not shooting them. They also clearly fall asleep when defeated, with little "zzZZ"s floating above them. On the other hand, while Noah does get spit on or kicked* around, his face in the HUD* never becomes bloody or bruised -- just worried.

Now, all of this said, there's a good chance that your children will still refer to things like "shooting" the animals, "killing" them, or getting "killed" by them. This is just the wording that gamers end up using, likely because this is what happens in the majority of games.