#4. Spiritual Warfare 10 Craziest NES Games @ jjmike.com

Spiritual Warfare is what you played back in the early 90s if your parents thought The Legend of Zelda was too creepy or demonic for you. This happened more often in Christian homes than you might believe (I know from experience). One day you were just innocently hanging out, gathering up pieces of Triforce and saving up rupes for extra bombs. The next day, Bob Jones or Bill Gothard (Christian men with infinite PMS) would write an article about “evil home-video TV-games” in Christian magazines about how Gannon gave six kids ear infections and how Wisrobes use Ouiji boards to shoot their magic ray attacks. This is like saying that since your stupid nephew ate Air Heads candy, that’s the cause of him being a literal airhead. There’s simply no way to counteract this kind of stupidity.

This type of thinking snowballs in Christian circles. Christians even got pissed off at the fact that the Red Falcon in Contra looked too evil. I once asked my youth leader if he expected a hostile alien to look like Mr. Rogers instead, and I recall he responded that “The wisdom of God is the foolishness of men,” and thus he won the argument through that type of esoteric incongruity that silences even the sassiest of teens. The religious authorities of my youth used such reasoning liberally and beat me in all sorts of arguments, and I didn’t know what to say back to them. I was like a jiu-jitsu white-belt who keeps falling for the same shitty keylock submission.   

Christian Games: def. A game that is a ripoff of a regular game, except the soundtrack is a midi of an old hymns that sound like dirges from Kentucky, ninjas are replaced with mild-mannered normal enemies, and your bomb weapons are replaced with Vials of the Wrath of God. These replacements are just a handful of the revisions necessary to make a game Christian. Other revisions may include crosses or doves to substitute money-crystals (since crystals are new-age and evil), and the instruction manual describing your sword as The Sword of the Spirit instead of just a regular sword.

Anyway, if things got to this point in your actual home, then you could kiss your videogame childhood goodbye. Your parents would read such Christian magazine articles and flip out mildly, angry at their “lack of discernment” or “apostasy.” They’d put your Nintendo in the closet at best or throw it in the garbage at worst. This story repeated itself in the households of many Christian gamers . . . until a game developer called Wisdom Tree started making games that were officially Christian! Enter Spiritual Warfare: the savior-game that prompted my parents to give my Nintendo another chance.

It's dangerous to go alone. Take produce!

Spiritual Warfare is the kind of game non-Christians would make to parody Christians and their videogames . . . yet it’s actually a legitimate Christian game produced by Wisdom Tree: a bastion of religiously unintentional self-parody. You play the role of a bow-tied Christian fag out to kill the devil (seriously) and win souls for Jesus. You do this by throwing your Fruit of the Spirit projectile weapon at enemies, thus making your missionary effort a virtual food-fight. As fucked-up as this sounds, it’s actually the most awesomely retarded comparison made by Christians in the last 20 years.

You’d think that blasting the unsaved with your fruit would open up an opportunity for a dialogue exchange. Not so. In Spiritual Warfare, a pear to the face will have a needy soul on its knees and converting in less than two seconds. Sometimes a demon will squeal out of the convert’s body, and you’ll have to throw fruit at it to defeat it. Later on when you get the Sword of the Spirit, you get to throw sword-beams (again like in The Legend of Zelda), and these sword beams actually explode when they hit something. And if you don’t think that’s fucked-up, get this:

Spiritual Warfare is almost a FUN game. The funnest Zelda-ripoff ever, in fact.

What?! You're taking away my Belt of Truth for going into a bar . . . and I can get it back by going to a slum? What are you angels thinking? That's like saying: "For sooth! Thou backslider, what thinkest thou when ye enter Sadam Hussein's gay toilet in search of pearls of wisdom? For this tresspass, I shall take your vintage breakdancing track jacket. Thou can find it again in the whorehouse downtown." Man, next time an anime chick with hot bunny-ears tells me to stay away from liquor, I'll listen.
It’s seriously hard to believe: Christians made an addicting game that had the semblance of something fun. Back when I was a young teen too cool to play Christian imitations of popular secular games, I hypocritically looked forward to finishing school and coming home to opening up secret passageways by setting down Vials of the Wrath of God like proximity mines, then throwing fruit at them to make them blow up, thus opening new worlds to explore on the massive, black pavement-coated world-map of Spiritual Warfare. And if that’s not the most fucked-up sentence in this article, get this: even the non-Christian kids in my neighborhood got hooked on Spiritual Warfare. Since I had recently gotten a spiritual pump-up from a recent stint in Vacation Bible School, I thought I was doing something awesome, that Jesus was looking down from heaven and giving me a thumbs-up, and that I was honestly witnessing to my friends in a subtly effective way. However, none of my friends ever converted to Christianity through playing Spiritual Warfare. Maybe it was because Satan, the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) was blinding them. Or maybe it was because Spiritual Warfare was like having a food-fight with retarded people in Pee Wee’s Playhouse to an X-Treme pump-up soundtrack of rhythmless hymns. If I’m going to spend a few hours food-fighting and throwing explosive swords at demons, I’d like some Cypress Hill or maybe some Pantera. Because when I run around town kicking demon ass to the soundtrack of Amish waltzes, I feel like I may as well be playing Neo Gunbot Mech Waits In Line at Shoprite II: Championship Edition.




Special Guest Reviewer: Elias from Clerks 2!

Fun: Contrary to what black-and-white fundamentalist preachers say, Nintendo is NOT deceptive poison from the devil's anus. I mean, I'm a fundamentalist too, but I'm more interested in showing love than showing judgment. After all, I think it's Hezekiah chapter 6 that says judge not, lest ye be judged yourself. So who are we to judge Nintendo, and why would we even want to do that in the first place? Spiritual Warfare is seriously more fun than a Ned Flanders cookout, and if you want to learn more, you should come to the ice-cream party my youth group is having at the bowling alley this Friday night.

Gameplay: Spiritual Warfare is a nearly perfect simulation of the believer's war against unseen, dark forces. But Randall doesn't agree, and he tells me that The Transformers are from the dark forces. But he hasn't seen the flow-chart that my youth pastor and I made up to refute that. What an ignoramous! First he doesn't know about Mr. Pillowpants the Pussy Troll, and now he thinks he knows what he's talking about when he tells me about Satan and his dark forces! Sorry Randall, you may be good at the game of real life, but when it comes to Spiritual Warfare with dark forces, you FAIL!

Graphics: I have to admit, I peed a little when some of the dark forces attacked me in Spiritual Warfare! Some of the older assistant pastors from my old church didn't like any of the kids playing videogames, watching TV, or engaging in the wonderful art of Hobbit-storytelling. They didn't like the presence of dark forces in those things. But they can't make the distinction that the portrayal of dark forces is not necessarily the PROMOTION of dark forces! After all, the Bible itself shows a lot of dark forces activity, but it doesn't promote it. The same is true with Lord of the Rings and games like Spiritual Warfare. But anyway, back to my point about the graphics. For example, check out the pic to the right! that's Satin himself, the final boss! Man, that scared me. But I knew I was fighting the dark forces with my Sword of the Spirit all along, so I knew I was safe.

Sound: I was a little disappointed in the soundtrack. These are all just MIDI versions of the traditional hymns that my friends and I grew up listening to in our artistically-repressed religious environment! Nowadays, we have a Christian band that sounds like every secular band out there. I have an unsaved friend who likes Counting Crows, so I gave him Eternally Forgiven's latest album, which has basically the same sound. What I'm saying is that Wisdom Tree could have made the soundtrack out of songs from Eternally Forgiven, Graceflood, and Third Day insted of old hymns that nobody cares about because they put you to sleep!


JJMike's Ratings:

Fun: I'm taking a gamble here. I'm stepping out of my regular comedic shoes, and I'm coming forward to say that this Christian game is FUN! Saving lost souls and kicking demon ass has never made me feel so awesome. I'm sure there are countless forums in which I'd get ripped on for saying this. Thankfully, I have an intricate refutation to all that: kiss my ass.

Gameplay: I feel weird admitting it, but this game is fun! Watch out, though! It just may turn you into a stereotypical Christian teen! Whoops, got to go, I’m late for the pizza-party youth group meeting with Christie! We’ve been courting for almost two years now.


Graphics: This game is like a digitized version of those felt-board figures that your teachers used to illustrate theological concepts in youth group.
            What? You’ve never been to youth group? (grabs an acoustic guitar and puts on emo glasses). Well, you’re about to!
            Can’t you feel the graaaace,
            The grace comes down in a flood of gloooOOOOry,
            Won’t you listen to Jesus’ sstoooooOOOOOry!
            Won’t you see his shining face! Uhhhh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah it makes me feel okay!

Sound: I swear it’s as if Dietrich Chambers himself made the soundtrack to this game using an ancient Casio keyboard from the 80s.



Challenge: Beating Spiritual Warfare is just as hard as going to a youth Bible conference and NOT hearing a praise song that sounds like Hootie and the Blowfish. It's difficult and unlikely, but possible.




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