Super 3D Noah's Ark
|Super 3D Noah's Ark|
Title screen of Super 3D Noah's Ark
|Engine||Wolfenstein 3D engine|
Super 3D Noah's Ark is an unlicensed Christian-themed video game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and MS-DOS. It was released by the biblical video game producer Wisdom Tree in 1994, and was the only commercially released SNES game in the U.S. that was not officially sanctioned by Nintendo. In order to bypass the Super Nintendo's lockout chip, Wisdom Tree devised a pass-through system similar to the Game Genie, 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. Despite its name, it is unrelated to Konami's official Noah's Ark for the Nintendo Entertainment System. 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. On June 23, 2015 this version was released on Steam.
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, which the other animals can do.
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. 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.
Connection to id Software
According to rumours, id Software, angered with Nintendo of America's censorship in the SNES version of Wolfenstein 3D, gave the source code for that game to Wisdom Tree as part of a kind of "revenge" for the company to make an unofficial clone to mock them. In fact, Wisdom Tree purchased the license to the engine themselves from id Software, with both Wolfenstein 3D for the SNES and Super 3D Noah's Ark being developed at the same time. The game was not a commercial success and is considered a clone of Wolfenstein 3D. It was most commonly sold in Christian bookstores.
- Matulef, Jeffrey (14 January 2014). "Unlicensed SNES game Super 3D Noah's Ark to be reprinted". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- 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.
- Hutton, Christopher. "A Short History of Christian Videogames". GameChurch.com. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
- Official website
- 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