Spiritual Warfare

      By the year 1992, video games had virtually taken over the industrialized world. People started to realize that if they wanted to sway the youth of the nation with subliminal mind control, video games were the medium to use. And thus, Wisdom Tree was born. It has been said that if you had an idea during the golden age of Nintendo, and someone to pitch it to, then you were in like sin. Apparently this idiom didn't apply to Wisdom Tree, because none of their contributions to the NES console were ever licensed. If you ever owned one of these games, you would know that they didn't look like normal NES carts; they were black, angled at the top and kind of ugly. That didn't dampen their spirits, however. In total, they released seven games for the NES: The King of Kings, Bible Adventures, Joshua & The Battle of Jericho, Exodus: Journey to the Promised Land, Bible Buffet, Spiritual Warfare, and Sunday Funday. Normally when a company released and marketed games for the NES without netting the coveted Nintendo Seal of Quality by paying for the console's proprietary cartridges, Nintendo would sue the bastards. Not Wisdom Tree though. Not even Nintendo executives were fucking dumb enough to sue a group of Christians. That would be like suing God. Anyway, this is a review of Spiritual Warfare. I was unable to find a copy of the manual for Spiritual Warfare, so I got the following game description from Wisdom Tree's website. Judging by the wealth of knowledge found in the four page manual for Bible Adventure, I'm probably not missing much.

You’re a soldier in the army of the Lord. Explore the regions of a modern city as you attempt to collect the full armor of God. Along the way, you’ll encounter villainous characters and numerous obstacles designed to test your faith. Correctly answering Bible questions will help restore your health and strengthen your spirit.

      Occasionally throughout the game, an angel will fly onto the screen. If you touch the angel, it will ask you five Bible-related trivia questions. Answer them correctly and you will be awarded health and Spirit Points, which are the currency of the game. Sound promising? Too bad. Here we go!


      After the title screen you get the privilege of entering your name. I'm not entirely sure why, because the only place it ever appears is on the status screen. After that formality, you get dumped in a city park with only the clothes on your back and a track list consisting of three old-time hymns looping ad nauseum. During the course of the article, you'll probably notice some similarities between this game and The Legend of Zelda; the opening screen is the first instance of this. Instead of a cave, however, there's a door that you enter to get your first weapon: the mighty pear. While a pear may seem pretty lame in comparison to a sword, let's not be too hasty. When you hit most "villianous characters" with a pear, they are instantly converted to Christianity. With that kind of power, the war in Iraq could have been won by farmers within the first month. The televangelist Benny Hinn hits people with his jacket to heal them, and unfortunately just like the maladies Mr. Hinn cures, the bad guys in Spiritual Warfare relapse eventually. Another thing you may want to know about the pear is that if the bad guy is also possessed, converting them also performs a spontaneous exorcism. Unfortunately for you, this pisses the demon off, and it flies straight at you. Though fear not, demons also can be destroyed with fruit. Sometimes they're too fast to defeat, so when I beat this game, I'm pretty sure I was harboring some forty or so demons. Emily Rose only had seven. See that other thing on the first screen that looks like an urn with the number three on it? Those are Vials of the Wrath of God. That's right, the powers of flood, plague and locusts, all condensed into a jar of holy ass whooping. With your newly acquired pear and Wrath of God grenades, you are now ready to explore the park.


      So what sorts of villianous characters await you in the park? Well, as you can see above, you've got some knife-wielding Latino drug runners, buyers, some retarded kids with green paddles, and the titular hero of the Commodore 64 game Jumpman. Apparently he didn't get much work in the nine year period between the releases of Jumpman and Spiritual Warfare, and the years were NOT kind to him.. Not only has his hair gone completely white, but he's also lost the ability to jump. So now he spends his days climbing ladders and hating God for being overshadowed by his son, Jumpman Junior. One screen to right of the game's starting point, you'll find the entrance to the first boss lair. Convenient, isn't it? When I tried to play Legend of Zelda, I ended up in the third dungeon first.


      The first boss is the most badass boss in the entire game. Well, with the exception of the final boss, but that comes later. I say this because he runs around both hiding behind and carrying a boulder, and because he SUMMONS FUCKING DEMONS TO ATTACK YOU. When he pokes his head out, you see that he is one of the special kids from the park and for some reason he's been given conjuring powers. You cannot fully comprehend how awesome this actually is, until you encounter enemies later on that throw balloons at you. That's right, fucking balloons. Anyway, after you bean this guy's rock with a couple pears, he has a seizure and dies. You can then claim the Belt of Truth which allows you to move things, like rocks, and ultimately escape the park. Unfortunately, you don't gain the ability to carry boulders for protection.


      Exiting the park thrusts you directly into the downtown business district of the city. What villians await us here? Well, aside from maniacal public workers that plant ludricrous amounts of explosives, you'll encounter men in business suits, wearing color-coordinated skullcaps. Now, I'm not saying that these skullcaps are yarmulkes, and I'm not saying that these businessmen had obscene amounts of bagels and offered to lend me money, but by the time I had made it to the second boss lair, every fruit toss resulted in an involuntary shout of "Wir müssen die Juden ausrotten!", accompanied by a robust Sieg Heil toward my monitor. One thing of note in the downtown sector is the bar. There's a kid outside that warns you not to go in, but really, what the Hell do kids know? If you do go into the bar, an angel takes the Belt of Truth away from you and sells it to a pawnshop in the slums. Normally when I go into a bar and an angelic looking creature takes off my belt, it's the beginning of a good night. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way in this game, so don't go into the bar.


      The second boss is a pain in the ass, and not even remotely as cool as the first boss. All he does is run around the room in a counterclockwise pattern, trying to smash your skull with his monkey wrench. Yes, the first boss could summon demons, and this guy has a fucking wrench. The inherent lameness of this boss is further aggravated by the fact that the blocks in the room appear and disappear at random, so you can't really anticipate when he's going to run into you. To put Mr. Plumber down for the count, you have to nail him with three Vials of God's Wrath. Fortunately, you can detonate the vials manually by hitting them with fruit, so you don't really have to use any precision timing to win. It's still annoying, but once you get the job done, you get the Breastplate of Righteousness, which cuts the damage you receive in half. This is a good thing, because soon enough you're going to eat more than a few bullets.


      The next stop on our Jihad Journey is the slums. In the slums, you'll find rundown buildings, broken windows, trash and garbage cans. The enemies in the slums are drunken winos, BMX riders, armed gang members and rabid mutts. You'll quickly notice that dogs aren't affected if you hit them with fruit. This is because dogs can't be converted as they have no souls. I'm sorry Sally, all dogs don't go to Heaven. They die, your parents bury them, and they decompose into worm food. Unless they bury them in the old pet sematary, in which case they become undead. For some reason dogs are also immune to God's wrath. I don't really understand why this is; If there's anything that Hurricane Katrina taught us, it's that animals most definitely are not immune to the wrath of God. After wandering around the slums for a bit, you'll find an angel willing to sell you a vintage torch. You don't need it to beat the game, but it makes things easier, as it illuminates various secrets. The slums are also home to the pawnshop. It is here that you can buy back your belt if you lost it. You can forget about your wallet though. That bitch already took all your money and maxed out your credit cards.


      Next up is the residential district. The most important thing in the residential area is the church. Not only does it refill your life meter, it also gives you hints about where to go next in the game. You may wonder why I don't have a screenshot of the church. The reason is that I never went there. Yes, I was a supreme soldier of God without ever having gone to church. It is in the residential section that you will find the most villianous of characters. No, not the graffiti kids... the Jehovah's Witnesses. Once they realize that the masters of the house aren't going to let them in, they get pissed off and try to kill you. I remember this one time a Jehovah's Witness came to my house. I told him I was very interested in what he had to say and invited him into the den. I offered to get him a glass of water, but when I went to kitchen, instead of a glass of water I got a coconut and went Rowdy Roddy Piper on his ass. Just like in this game, he immediately fell prostrate before his new savior and was instantly ascended to Heaven. Hallelujah!


      Wandering back through the business district brings us to the airport. There's not really a whole to do at the airport aside from pick up a heart container and a key. The only enemies you'll encounter are airport security, some generic people running around on the tarmac, and Buddhists. If you thought having Jews in the business district and having Jehovah's Witnesses in the residential sector were bad stereotypes, this is even worse. Not only are the Buddhists hanging out at the airport, but they're holding pamphlets, wearing togas, and they're bald. If you manage to avoid their heretical teachings of inner peace and harmony with nature, the warehouse district awaits you.


      There's really not much going on in the warehouse district. That guy in the leftmost screenshot, the one that looks like he has a giant white beard, is actually holding a jackhammer. He goes around destroying the sidewalk, which miraculously rebuilds itself if you leave the screen and come back. I don't know what sort of hard-on the good people at Wisdom Tree have for sidewalks, but defacing them is apparently extremely sinful. That guy in red, also from the leftmost screenshot, throws novelty-size wrenches at you. The hispanic guy in green, predictably, has a knife and tries to cut you. In addition to these clowns, you may run into some forklifts which push boxes around, and generally try to run you over. Once you're past these few obstacles, you can finally take on the third boss.


      Meet boss number three. While he may seem like just another plumber, this guy is eons ahead of his simpleton cousin. Instead of trying to bash you with his wrench, he drops mortars on you. These aren't just any mortars though. No, these are heat-seeking mortars. The only thing that keeps your sorry ass alive is the fact that these bombs are slow as shit, and they explode once they reach the bottom of the screen. To beat this boss, you have to lure the mortars into the pink bricks that appear when he's about to fire one off. When the bomb hits the pink brick, it explodes, revealing ladders. Once you've blown open a path to the boss just climb the ladder and hit him with a trusty can of God-Wrath. After that, all that's left is to claim the Boots shod with the Preparation of the Gospel and move on to the hotels.


Onward, Christian soldier!