I rarely do Christmas specials when it comes to my articles since it is quite a hectic time for me. However, I wanted to make an exception this year for a title that is basically a reskin of Wolfenstein 3D and was even at one point going to be based on the movie Hellraiser. This was the only game to be released unlicensed for the SNES, yet the MS-DOS version came back through the 20th Anniversary Edition that included some welcoming updates! Is it not wonderful how digital tools can archive entertaining projects for later generations?
The big flood has come and Noah has brought two of every animal onto his ark for their species to survive God’s cleansing. Having travelled for many days, these creatures are getting restless and want out of this boat. You, as the captain of this ship, decide to put all of them to rest by feeding them lots of food to make them calm down. This is definitely not an accurate retelling of the biblical story, but it is a cute setup where you just want the passengers to relax until you find land. Despite being far from a focus, there are some fun writings and you are even mocked if you quit the game with: “are a few hungry animals too tough for you? “, which I do appreciate.
Honestly, it is hard to avoid mentioning that this is basically Wolfenstein 3D with a Christian PG skin. You have numbers showcasing your overall health, ammunition, lives, and the fruits collected. The last one you have to gather 50 off in order to acquire one more chance, but since you can save and load your progress at any time, getting extra tries is worthless. In this FPS with auto aim, you can move around, circle strafe, and shoot with your weapons. It is a straightforward control scheme that works with both keyboards only and the mouse accompanied, especially since you never have to look up or down due to the lack of changing altitudes in the platforms.
As the old man, you start off with a simple slingshot that has a decent fire rate, but will soon come across two other ones with quicker shots each, as well as two different takes on canons that either flings devastating watermelons or swift coconuts. The latter two have each unique ammo, but the other three solely use seeds, making them only more rapid versions of each other. While two of them at least help with your balance in ammunition usage, having three types of the same firearm with varied speeds is excessive. Nevertheless, the gunplay is fast and satisfying with you never needing to reload any of your tools. Additionally, should you go empty of food, you can always feed animals grain up close as a form of a melee attack.
You are going to require all the help you can get, as the creatures on this boat are fierce and will not stop at anything. They will hide behind doors to take you off guard, later ones can easily kill you in a couple of hits, and the variety of enemies to face is demanding, such as simultaneously dealing with spitting sheep and charging oxen. Because of this, alongside the myriad of shots coming from foes and their bullets not affecting each other, Super 3D Noah’s Ark can be brutal.
While they are more about how hard they hit and the amount of damage they can take than anything else, the opponents are engaging to fight due to their numbers and clever placements. I also like the inclusion that they can be stunned by a barrage of fruit, offering you a bit of a breather. This does not excuse how effortlessly they can kill you, which can make the challenge feel arbitrary, particularly with the off hit detection that caused me to question if there was any patch for this. Luckily, being able to quickly strafe around the animals and find rewarding secrets, will mitigate this issue.
In fact, this leads me to the excellent designs of the levels! You might have to find either a silver or gold key to get further, but all of them are exciting to look for due to the stage’s diverse layouts and simple objective of getting to the goal. The addition of a run button also makes backtracking not a problem at all thanks to the speed you can reach. Despite that these floors can be uneven in length, they contain plenty of hidden rooms to uncover through subtle clues, like odd walls or map structures.
This adds to making the exploration addicting as these chambers hold significant rewards, such as essential health pickups and ammo! Your map always autofill as you walk around, with there even being one to locate on each deck that shows where everything is and its layout. Although, the most unique trinket to gather, might be the scrolls. Encountering one of these will have you pick an answer for a bible question, with selecting the correct one awarding you with more of the valuable items for staying alive. Fail, and you get nothing.
With creative levels that vary in structure and a solid amount of enemies to fight, I am surprised by how entertaining Super 3D Noah’s Ark is, even with its issues. The worst offender here is the bosses since they are all underwhelming damage sponges that fire harsh bullets at you, but are simultaneously easy to take down with your strongest weapons. Yet with 30 stages in total, there is enough content here to make the journey fulfilling with engaging foes to literally put to rest. Like using a slingshot; it is not the best of its kind, but certainly enjoyable.
Gameplay Score: 8/10
42,475 cubic meters!
Having this traditional FPS take place inside a ginormous ship is actually not a bad idea, due to the small corridors and plenty of rooms it contains. There are a lot of wooden borders and superficial walls that can make areas blend together, but luckily this title also corporates other textures, such as iron bars, pictures of sleeping ducks, and curtains. Not to mention, minor set pieces like barrels and tables help at offering some diversity to the claustrophobic scenery.
Even the animals are well designed, with big cute eyes, nice animations, and everyone being adorable when they fall asleep. While I do not think it is accurate that Noah brought over only a selection of creatures, the variety is decent enough to make each stand out. Antelopes galloping and kangaroo bosses jumping around, make it all visually pleasing. Your own weapons have satisfying motions too, and I love how the coconut and watermelon bullets actually fly across the screen in order to signify how dangerous they are.
What surprises me the most, is the uplifting music. It is catchy with strong bass and a diverse amount of notes that escalate sufficiently. Yet, it also has a lot of tones that are associated with Christian hymns that are fitting for this adventure’s theme, including an organ. These short choruses also do not become repetitive due to how comforting and rhythmic they are, making me easily smile and bob my head to them. In fact, the audio in general is commendable! Opponents’ cries are distinct to let you know which ones are up ahead, shots fired are whimsical, and the hero’s “wow” for whenever he is getting an extra life is as funny as when Owen Willson says it. Nothing is impressive, but it all has a sweet charm to it.
Presentation Score: 7/10
Points are an element that is hard to care for these days, but seeing how many of the secrets, collectables, and beasts you found for 100% completion can be an addictive attempt! It is never a daunting task either, as each stage is created to be fast to venture through and gathering fruits truly feels rewarding due to their sound effects! Despite that the levels can occasionally be confusing labyrinths, you still get a strange form of personal accomplishment through the entertaining gameplay, even if you get nothing from doing this except for a fulfilling status screen.
Extra Score: 8/10
This was a nice surprise! While the difficulty can be harsh and the boat is not artistically pleasing, this is an admirable title that focuses on making exploration and fighting enemies satisfying throughout. Alongside the catchy tunes to take in, this is a solid change for fans of retro shooters. In fact, it is even family-approved, so kids who cannot play violent FPSs have an actually good alternative.