Super 3D Noah's Ark
|Super 3D Noah's Ark|
Title screen of Super 3D Noah's Ark
|Engine||Wolfenstein 3D engine|
|Platform(s)||Super Nintendo Entertainment System, MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux|
Windows, OS X, Linux
Super 3D Noah's Ark is a Christian-themed video game for MS-DOS which was also released unofficially for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was developed by the biblical video game producer Wisdom Tree and released in 1994. It was the only commercially released SNES game in North America that was not officially sanctioned by Nintendo. Despite its name, it is unrelated to Konami's official Noah's Ark for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was not a commercial success and is considered a clone of Wolfenstein 3D. It was most commonly sold in Christian bookstores.
The game plays similarly to Wolfenstein 3D, but the graphics were changed to reflect a non-violent theme. Instead of killing Nazi soldiers in a castle, the player takes the part of Noah, wandering the Ark, using a slingshot to shoot sleep-inducing food at angry attacking animals, mostly goats, in order to render them unconscious. The animals behave differently: goats, the most common enemy, will only kick Noah, while the other animals such as sheep, ostriches, antelopes and oxen will shoot spittle at him from a distance. Goats are also unable to open doors, while the other animals can.
The gameplay is aimed at younger children. Noah's Ark includes secret passages, food, weapons and extra lives. There are secret levels, and shortcut levels as well. The player eventually comes across larger and more powerful slingshots, and flings coconuts and watermelon at the larger boss-like animals, such as Ernie the Elephant and Carl the Camel.
The game that would eventually become Super 3D Noah's Ark was originally conceived as a licensed game based on the movie Hellraiser, a movie that Wisdom Tree founder Dan Lawton was a great fan of. Wisdom Tree acquired the game rights to Hellraiser for $50,000, along with a license to use the Wolfenstein 3D game engine from id Software, believing that the fast, violent action of Wolfenstein would be a good match for the mood of the film. Development initially began on the Nintendo Entertainment System, with Wisdom Tree intending to ship the game on a special cartridge that came equipped with a co-processor that could increase the system's RAM and processing speed several times over.
Eventually the Hellraiser game concept was abandoned due to several issues: the hardware of the NES was found unsuitable because of its low color palette and the addition of a co-processor would have made the cartridge far too expensive for consumers. According to Vance Kozik of Wisdom Tree, little progress was made on the NES incarnation of the game, which he described as "a barely up-and-running demo." The platform for Hellraiser was then switched to the PC, and the developers were able to make more progress on this version. However, by the time the first prototype was finished, Doom had been released, and Wisdom Tree felt that Hellraiser would not be able to compete. In addition, the management at Wisdom Tree decided that developing and publishing a horror-themed game would clash with their religious, family-friendly image. With these factors in mind, Wisdom Tree decided to let their Hellraiser license expire, transfer development to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and redesign the game with a Christian theme, eventually coming up with a game about Noah's Ark.
As the game was not officially sanctioned by Nintendo, Wisdom Tree devised a pass-through system similar to the Game Genie to bypass the system's copy protection, where the player had to insert an officially licensed SNES game into the cartridge slot on top of the Super 3D Noah's Ark cartridge.
A popular rumor claims that id Software licensed the Wolfenstein 3D engine to Wisdom Tree in retaliation against Nintendo for the content restrictions Nintendo placed on the Super NES version of Wolfenstein 3D. In actuality, Wisdom Tree offered id Software very lucrative terms for the Wolfenstein 3D game engine, which id regarded as having already outlived its usefulness, and id staff have stated that they never had any problems with Nintendo in the first place.
In January 2014, the game was re-released for the SNES, initially available only by private email orders, but later through Piko Interactive's website. The game was also updated for the 20th Anniversary Edition and released on itch.io on May 26, 2014 for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. These modern PC re-releases are based on the ECWolf game engine, a derivative of Wolfenstein 3D and ZDoom. On June 23, 2015 this version was released in digital distribution on Steam.
- Interview: Brenda Huff - By Nick Gibson on August 29, 2006
- Hutton, Christopher. "A Short History of Christian Videogames". GameChurch.com. Archived from the original on 2015-04-25. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
- Durham, Gabe. "How a Hellraiser tie-in became Super 3D Noah's Ark". Gamasutra. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
- "What Ever Happened to: Color Dreams". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 101. Ziff Davis. December 1997. p. 34.
- Durham, Gabe (2015). Bible Adventures. Boss Fight Books. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-940535-07-4.
- Kushner, David (2004). Masters of Doom. Random House Publishing Group. p. 121. ISBN 0-8129-7215-5.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (14 January 2014). "Unlicensed SNES game Super 3D Noah's Ark to be reprinted". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- ecwolf on maniacsvault.net
- S3DNA DOS Source Code Reconstructed on 28. August
- "Restoration of a few games' EXEs versions - Page 2 - RGB Classic Games Forum". Archived from the original on October 26, 2017.
- Official website - Wisdom Tree Games - Christian and Family oriented video games and video game products.
- Official website - Super 3D Noah's Ark of Wisdom Tree Games at itch.io
- "Wisdom Tree Games - Super 3D Noah's Ark". Archived from the original on June 30, 2015. - old official game website of Wisdom Tree Games
- Super 3D Noah's Ark at MobyGames
- Super Noah's Ark 3-D can be played for free in the browser at the Internet Archive