Waging Spiritual Warfare on the NES

Thanks to the good people at catholicvideogamers.com, I found out about an NES game called Spiritual Warfare, produced by Wisdom Tree.

You can play the game at their Web site, courtesy of the game appearing on vNES. Is it a good game? Does it hold up well to the other NES games?

I spent 30 minutes playing it this afternoon, and I can say that it's certainly not the worst video game ever made for the NES (that distinction going to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Apparently you walk around attacking demon-possessed people with fruits of the spirit.

 I GUESS that's what you're doing. I only know that because of what catholicvideogamers.com told me. The game offers no sort of story or plot narration. Most other NES games give you a screen that at least explains what in the heck you're doing.

However, while the game lacks a plot, it does throw in a HEAVY dose of Christian themes. Instead of bombs, you have vials of God's wrath. Instead of a sword and shield, you have literal "fruits of the spirit" you destroy your enemies with and a "belt of truth." And you can gain extra points by answering Bible trivia questions (out of the 10 I've answered so far, only one gave me slight pause).

Not knowing what the budget of the game was (and I'm assuming it isn't that much given the lack of funding in Christian media), it's actually not a bad effort considering the other goofy games that Wisdom Tree has come out with.

The graphics are decent, even though there are way too many empty black spaces. The music is familiar to anyone who grew up in a protestant church (Jesus Saves was the hymn that played for me, although pausing the game would select a random hymn), and is composed nicely on the NES. Nothing special, but it doesn't seem to get repetitive. And the throwing of fruit to attack enemies is a nice play mechanic, as different fruits have different physics (your first fruit, a pear, is fast but only goes a short distance, while the apple is slow, but goes across the screen and can kill multiple baddies).

Along with that missing plot, there are other things in this game that could have been tweaked. The enemy AI could have been tweaked so that enemies head toward your character and attack, instead of running around in circles at crazy fast speeds. The bombs Vials of God's Wrath take way too long to explode (5-6 seconds). And it seems like some religious items are in the game without having any relation to how they were really used in sacred scripture. For instance, why do I need Samson's Jawbone to gain access to the raft? Wouldn't that item be better used to clear the screen of enemies?

Regardless, it's a good effort by Wisdom Tree, even though they don't give their programmers full credit (only using first names) and it contains obvious flaws that could have been corrected easily. There's nothing truly innovate here, but they got enough things right (very responsive controls, good fighting system) to keep you from screaming in disgust like you would playing TMNT or Batman.

It's tough to tell if the game was this good when it first came out, as I was playing on a emulated version that was up to the sixth version. Regardless, I think I would have really enjoyed this game when I was a kid, and I'm sure my parents would have loved that.

Spiritual Warfare (NES). C+

P.S. Finding this game also led me to VirtualNES.com, which has a great selection of older NES games. They're emulated quite nicely, even though you have to use a keyboard and don't get full screen emulation. But if you really want the classic gaming experience, and you own a Mac, download Wiiji. The program uses your Mac's Bluetooth to connect with a Wiimote. From there, you can map the keys that Virtual NES uses to the Wiimote and play the NES games like you would have 15 years ago.


Miles Mariae September 4, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

Turtles, no way! That was a great game ;) I can remember beating almost a whole level before the game froze on a lava stream as I was jumping over it. My memory is hazy, I must have been about 6 at the time. Not sure what I would say my worst Nes game was, I hated Top Gun though, complete waste of time! I have so much unfinished Nes business, I unhappily had a game genie at one point (I think that was the Nes cheat cartridge but it could have been the Mega Drive one) and so a lot of Nes games I actually remember completing I probably only did illicitly! I guess that Turtles may have been one of those.

dustin (The Boston Celtics fan) September 5, 2010 at 7:00 PM  

I enjoyed the second and third Turtles game (I remember writing a letter in orange crayon to Johnny Arcade asking how to beat the wolf in the second level). The first one, just sucked so much life out of me. I remember renting it a bunch of times, so I guess I was a glutton for punishment. Worst part of that game was the warehouse where you have a gap to cross to get the missiles. Turns out, all you have to do is just WALK! Walk?? Found that out by accident years later.

With all these crappy games though, it got me thinking about my two jerk twin friends (never let me play their games, but always wanted to play mine) I had when I was six, and how they always bragged about their huge collection of NES games they played on their black and white TV. Looking back, I think 95 percent of their games sucked, which makes me feel foolish for being jealous. I specifically remember them playing Friday the 13th, Mission Impossible, Street Fighter 2010 and Indiana Jones Temple of Doom. I can't think of a decent game they owned.

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    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

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