First-person shooter, real-time strategy, sports, action, puzzle. These are just a few of the genres that every videogame falls under. Sometimes, however, these don’t tell the whole story. To call Katamari Damacy just a “puzzle game” is to overlook its charming ridiculousness. To call Zombie Nation a “shooter” ignores the fact that the point is to control an inexplicably large, disembodied zombie-head that destroys cities while simultaneously saving the people whose city you are in the process of destroying. Genre labels have their purpose, but sometimes they overlook important quirks. That’s where I come in.
This month’s topic:
Part 1 of 2
Since the beginning of time, or of videogames, at least, no games have sucked with the kind of consistence that religious games have. I’m kicking this column off with a big genre, so we’ll do this in two parts and look at half of the games this time and the other half next month.
This month’s adjective: Bibletasticness. The Bibletasticness score does not factor into the overall score, but it will let you know how closely these games follow Biblical scripture and how far down your throat it will be shoved.
Bible Buffet (NES)
The best thing Bible Buffet ever had going for it is that Funcoland, before being bought out by E B Games, sold the game for 33 cents. Even at that price it’s still a rip-off, but at least you could re-sell it to some Rod Flanders type for a bit of a profit.
At its core, the game is a repetitive board game in which you spin a spinner, wait 17-and-a-half minutes for it to stop and then, after moving your game piece, you enter a play field in which you have to collect a veritable fuckload of snack food items while avoiding the non-threatening wrath of anthropomorphic foodstuffs.
Occasionally the game breaks up the mindless hoarding of food with Bible trivia. The trivia, however, requires that you have the instruction booklet, as all the questions are listed in there. Most people wouldn’t have the instruction booklet to this game anymore, but it wouldn’t really make a difference as having those questions on hand didn’t exactly make the game a blast to play either way.
Games that play like a simple children’s board game with sickeningly repetitive minigames thrown in weren’t particularly common at the time; however, this was probably due to the fact that anybody with a brainstem knew that those kind of games aren’t fun.
I hope you like renditions of “When the Saints Go Marching In” on the NES.
(note: If your reply to the above statement was “yes, I do,” then please go die in a fire.)
The toilets at the Ex-Lax factory look nicer than this game.
Move your character with the d-pad, throw silverware and blow up barrels of gas with your A and B buttons. Simple to the point of being boring.
Replay Value: 2
It takes a breathtakingly boring person to want to play this game more than once. Go play Candy Land—it’ll blow your fucking mind.
When I was playing this game, between suicide attempts, I realized something very important. This game is NOT a Christian game. Yes, I know it does look like a Christian game. Hell, it’s got “Bible” right in the title. You even have to do Bible trivia. However, this is all part of a clever rouse by Satanists who hijacked this game and used it to glorify the sin of gluttony.
Don’t believe me? Well, by the end of the game I had eaten about two metric tons of various foodstuffs, and not only was my character NOT grossly obese, or more biologically accurately, dead, but I was praised at the end of the game for being able to answer rudimentary Bible trivia while gorging myself on pickles, hot dogs and cupcakes.
Overall (average of all scores except “bibletasticness”): 2.5
This game captures all the fun of pressing buttons without the notion that most modern games seem to have: that the button-pressing should have a point. You mindlessly go around the board, collecting food for no good reason, until it ends. You leave not knowing what you did or why you did it. All you know is that you feel kind of…dirty.
King of Kings (NES)
This game was a huge disappointment. It’s three games in one, and none of them are about Elvis. Not even an Elvis minigame. Instead, I got to stroll around the desert on a camel collecting frankensence, strut around a dark cavern riding a donkey and guide a large, bearded man as he gets stung by satan-bees, falls off of cliffs and repeatedly drowns.
I have been a part of stabbings that were more fun than this game.
This game not only rips off Mario 2, but is also very similar to Bible Adventures. It not only lacks any originality but, indeed, any redeeming qualities as well.
Have you ever been to a carnival and listened to that pipe organ type instrument that plays on its own? Well, imagine listening to that music being emulated by an NES over and over again, and you’ll start to understand how similar the audio in this game is to coating your ear drums in honey and letting boll weevils eat their way through to the other side.
The characters move with all the ease and grace of a nearsighted, epileptic quadriplegic.
Replay Value: 1
If you played this game once then it will probably be impossible for you to do so a second time, as this game invokes a response in the lowest levels of your subconscious to burn your NES to cinders so that it may never, ever hurt you again.
These games based on Bible scripture are so boring you’ll swear that you’re actually there! If playing the scripture wasn’t boring enough, you’ll be quizzed on it in some bonus rounds.
The Bible Game (Xbox)
Possibly the most cleverly named game of the bunch, The Bible Game simulates being on a game show in which you play Bible-based minigames, answer yet more Bible trivia and get the basic tenets of Christianity delightfully rammed down your gullet. The simulated game show, named “Do Unto Others” (for reasons I don’t quite understand, as the philosophy of the “Golden Rule” seems to have non-Biblical origins) is hosted by a man who looks like the kind of youth minister that would inform children that he is “totally down with their groovy ways” and would like to inform them what a “gnarly dude” Jesus is.
Make no mistake: Even if you, like myself, are queer for game show games, this game still sucks. You will occasionally play some minigames; however, once you play through the game once or twice, you’ve probably done them all.
Suck as it may, at least it isn’t ripping off another game or Jesufying a previously made game.
Imagine if Gears of War forced you to listen to Gin Blossoms while you played. It doesn’t matter how awesome a game is: If you’re listening to Hey Jealousy in the background, then it sucks by default. Now imagine a game that wasn’t good in the first place with a soundtrack that includes about five tracks from bands that all sound like a wussier Gin Blossoms all talking about how great Jesus is. It’s like being raped in the ears with a large, serrated, steel crucifix.
This game certainly didn’t stretch the Xbox/PS2’s capabilities. In fact, it looks a lot like The Game of Life on PSX. Character models are clunky, the host talks out of the side of his mouth like he just had a stroke and graphics are lame overall. I’m sure Crave knew the demographic for this game didn’t care about graphics nearly as much as they cared about stripping their children of any form of entertainment that does not have anything to do with Christianity.
Controls are pretty self-explanatory. Nothing revolutionary here.
Replay Value: 2
If the crappy Christian music doesn’t turn you off of it, the fact that the minigames and bible trivia just aren’t that fun will.
I have to hand it to this game. They didn’t just focus on the few “turn the other cheek” nice-guy passages in the Bible like most other games do. In fact, this game even made a minigame out of stoning people to death. I shit you not: You can stone wacky cartoon philistines to death while listening to upbeat Christian music. It may not be how I prefer to spend a Saturday night, but it’s still pretty fucking hilarious.
Though this game may be more fun than many of its peers, it’s still a game show for kids based on the bible. It had the deck stacked against it from the beginning. Only recommended for people who have blocked all channels except EWTN and Trinity Broadcast Network and only read The Bible and the Left Behind books. Speaking of which…
Left Behind: Tribulation Force (PC)
A column on religious videogames wouldn’t be complete without the newest and most controversial of the religious video games: Left Behind: Tribulation Force. This game is just about guaranteed to offend anybody who isn’t a white, male, Christian fundamentalist hillbilly. In fact, I’ve compiled an incomplete list of who it will probably offend:
Atheists/Agnostics: Apparently you are all a bunch of ne’er-do-wells who spend your time in street gangs, beat up non-atheists and play the rock ‘n’ roll music at them in an effort to weaken their beliefs. Though killing a non-believer rather than converting them is technically frowned upon, your character can be forgiven for killing the dirty heathen if you just pray a bit.
Women: If nothing else, this game is true to its biblical roots, and what’s more biblical than shafting women. Though women can’t be builders or soldiers in this game, you little powderpuffs can still be gospel singers and medics (though the icon for a female medic seems to be a nurse, not a doctor).
Blacks: Just about every person in this game is white, but don’t worry! Black people are represented in the musician characters in this game. The “sing” icon depicts a black woman belting out a gospel tune and the voice acting for musician classes sound so much like a early 1900s minstrel show that I’m amazed that they don’t say “I’s happy ta’ help ya’ massa Jesus.”
This game is easily among the worst real-time strategy games I’ve ever played. However, even though it doesn’t hold a candle to any of it’s RTS peers, it’s much better than most of its peers in the category of religious games.
Many of the levels seem to be running around a city, avoiding evil gangs of atheists and converting people to your Christ crew, and the game waits a painfully long time before it becomes more about resource gathering, stronghold acquiring and battle. Once the game focuses more on battle you can’t help but wonder why you even bothered waiting, since the battle system is rather stale and boring. Not only that but one of your main weapons against enemies is to sing at them. Yes, you sing at them. Not since the Care Bear Stare has battle been this fruity.
Though they didn’t try much that’s very new for the genre, at least the game is an RTS at all and not a remake of some piece of shit with Bible trivia thrown in.
Thankfully the game was merciful enough not to loop Christian music through the game, and instead uses some classical-sounding loops. Unfortunately, it was not kind enough to omit Christian music altogether. In fact, every time you beat a level you get a bonus screen that gives you a few paragraphs that very limply assert that some proven scientific fact like, say, evolution, is wrong, and you unlock a track of Christian music which you can then purchase. This seems a lot to me like a game that rewards you for completing a level by stabbing you in the dick and then gives you the option to pay them so that you may be stabbed in the dick at your leisure in the future.
One thing the audio does have going for it though is that your character often says “Praise the Lord” when he moves. I just find this funny in its goofiness. That might just be me.
This game certainly isn’t doing anything, visually, that games weren’t doing five or more years ago.
Again, nothing revolutionary. If you’ve played an RTS you probably know the control scheme to this game or will quickly catch on.
Replay Value: 3
Why you would play this game in the first place when there are a mountain of better RTS’s out there is beyond me, let alone why you would play it again. I would, however, be more apt to play this game again than most any other of the previously mentioned religious games. If only for that goofball who says “Praise the Lord” for no reason.
This game is certainly puts forth messages that are clearly stated in the Bible but not usually mentioned in public, including “Kill all who oppose us” and “Women are inferior.” It even takes time between levels to make feeble attempts at “disproving” science or furthering their own pet pseudoscience.
Also, this game approaches evil from the perspective of a conservative dad in the 1950s in that you have to attack the evil kids who talk like beatniks (Atheist recruiters say: “Hey, my man, wanna hear a brand new beat?”) and play the Rock and/or Roll music at you.
I’m not an RTS-guru by any means, but I would suggest just about any other RTS over this game. If you absolutely need to get a Christian game though, this might be the one to get. Just buy it used or something. I don’t want to be held responsible for people giving money to what are, essentially, religious hate groups.
That’s all for this month, check out Top of the Heap next month and we’ll look over more games and figure out which one to damn with faint praise by crowning it the King of Kings among religious games.