Super 3D Noah's Ark is a 1994 Christian first-person shooter developed by Wisdom Tree for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and a total conversion of the SNES port of Wolfenstein 3D. It is the only commercially released SNES game to be unlicensed.
It was later ported to MS-DOS in 1995, with superior textures and graphics to its console counterpart. Eventually, it was re-released on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux in 2015.
The player controls Noah on the Ark, during the last six days of the Great Flood. The animals have grown restless, so Noah must traverse the Ark and feed the animals with food--fired from a variety of slingshots--to make them fall asleep.
In addition to featuring a similar gameplay style and level layout to Wolfenstein 3D, it shares many elements from the SNES and other Mac Family ports, such as power-ups to boost the player's ammunition capacity and special weapons that use their own ammo. Ironically, these features were present in the DOS version of Super 3D Noah's Ark, even though they weren't present in the original DOS version of Wolfenstein 3D.
There are also scrolls scattered throughout most levels, that contain quizzes for the player to answer. The questions are either "True or False" or multiple choice, and involve the original story of Noah from the Bible, as told in the Book of Genesis. Answering the questions correctly will award the player with health.
The game that would eventually become Super 3D Noah's Ark was originally conceived as a licensed game based on the movie Hellraiser, a movie that Wisdom Tree founder Dan Lawton was a great fan of. Wisdom Tree acquired the game rights to Hellraiser for $50,000, along with a license to use the Wolfenstein 3D game engine from id Software, believing that the fast, violent action of Wolfenstein would be a good match for the mood of the film. Development initially began on the Nintendo Entertainment System, with Wisdom Tree intending to ship the game on a special cartridge that came equipped with a co-processor that could increase the system's RAM and processing speed several times over.
Eventually the Hellraiser game concept was abandoned due to several issues: the hardware of the NES was found unsuitable because of its low color palette and the addition of a co-processor would have made the cartridge far too expensive for consumers. By the time the first prototype was finished, Doom had already been released, so developing for the NES was considered a lost cause. In addition, the management at Wisdom Tree decided that developing and publishing a horror-themed game would clash with their religious, family-friendly image. With these factors in mind, Wisdom Tree decided to let their Hellraiser license expire, transfer development to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and redesign the game with a Christian theme, eventually coming up with a game about Noah's Ark.
As the game was not officially sanctioned by Nintendo, Wisdom Tree devised a pass-through system similar to the Game Genie to bypass the system's copy protection, where the player had to insert an officially licensed SNES game into the cartridge slot on top of the Super 3D Noah's Ark cartridge.
Reception and legacyEdit
The original SNES version was the worst-selling game in Wisdom Tree's history. The game quickly faded into obscurity for many years, even after it was ported to MS-DOS.
In 2006, internet reviewer and filmmaker James Rolfe reviewed the SNES version as part of the episode "Bible Games" of his web series, "The Angry Video Game Nerd". It was also the first Super Nintendo game he reviewed on his show. He criticized the game for its similarities to Wolfenstein 3D, the jarring upbeat tone of the music, and the strange concept of Noah fighting animals with a slingshot.
In 2015, Super 3D Noah's Ark was re-released on Steam to mixed reviews.