The Nintendo Entertainment System was a phenomenon when it initially came out, and it redefined “toys” at the time. Well, Christians don’t shy from trying to infiltrate popular media with their evangelical messages, and the NES was no different. Out came Bible Adventures, a trio of simple Bible-based games that were supposedly reason to let your kids play as much “Nintendo” as they wanted, because, “they’re actually learning Bible stories while playing Nintendo.”
This is that time Bible Adventures was a real thing that released on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Released in 1991, Bible Adventures is a collection of three games on one cartridge for the NES. There is an important detail here that you need to know, and that is that during the NES era, Nintendo was strict on the system with their Nintendo Seal of Quality, which meant all things released on the console were hoped to have this seal on there to guarantee the product was well made.
For more context, the reason for this Seal of Quality was a direct result of the video game crash of the 1980s, where consoles like the Atari 2600 became overwhelmed with games for the console that were of very little quality and were just trying to make a quick buck in the midst of the rise of the popular medium. This resulted in the NES releasing games sparingly as to not oversaturate the market and prove to their customers that quality preceded quantity.
To put it into perspective, the NES, at least within the North American context where Bible Adventures released, had a lifespan of 10 years, between 1985 and 1995. Within that 10 year period, Nintendo officially released 678 games in North America to the public, which is roughly 68 games a year and only 5 games a month on average. This means that releasing a game on the NES was a challenging task, because it needed to go through Nintendo for quality assurance.
So how did Bible Adventures happen?
Well, the truth is that Bible Adventures never released in normal retail outlets. Developer Wisdom Tree formed in 1988, and they eventually started pumping out cheap and repetitive religious gaming experiences for the NES, Game Boy, Genesis, PC, and other platforms.
Since unlicensed games were unable to sell in retail outlets (Nintendo’s rule!), they were at a strict disadvantage. However, they used other means to advertise and sell Bible Adventures, and that included things like using infomercials (Like the one above), selling at churches, televangelist programs, and even at Christian book stores. And Bible Adventures was not the only title Wisdom Tree was throwing out there, because once they found their rhythm, they started raking in that unlicensed NES money from Christian parents that did not know any better.
What I mean by that is that Bible Adventures is atrocious, and The Gamer even includes it in their Classic NES Games That Don’t Deserve a Spot in History. The game is simply terrible as it forces you to replay sections over and over again while having Bible quotes thrown your way. Not only that, but gameplay is insanely reminiscent to Super Mario Bros 2 yet barely plays like it, which sounds like an oxymoron. And somehow, this disaster of a game sold 350,000 copies. For comparison, and to make you a little sick, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem on the GameCube only sold 20,000 copies despite having a 92% on MetaCritic.
So despite Nintendo’s Seal of Quality and limited game releases during the NES’s lifetime, despite horrible gameplay and controls, and despite the inability to sell at major retail chains, Bible Adventures happened, and many children were subject to one of the worst games to ever grace the NES. I mean, certain Christian parents were definitely on board with video games being “of the devil“, so it doesn’t surprise me that Wisdom Tree succeeded in their attempt to release SEVEN Christian-themed games in total for the NES.
It may seem funny now, but this was a real thing that haunted many children who were expecting the newest Super Mario game and not some Bible-quoting, repetitive nonsense. Be thankful that us older gamers had to go through all of this stupidity to prove to our parents that video games don’t cause violence and crime…
Forcing your kids to play games like Bible Adventures does, though.
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link and enjoying this “That Time” article. What do you think of this topic? Were you subject to playing Bible Adventures? Let us know what you think in the comments below! Happy gaming, everyone.
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.