The most bizarre religious video games ever

Religious video games revolve around two goals: educate the player about their religion, and inspire them to keep believing. Oftentimes, however, these games accomplish yet a third goal: confuse and baffle the player about what exactly they just sat through. Here are some of the strangest religious games around.

Most of these games are Christian-based, because on the Seventh Day God chilled with a few rounds of Tetris, probably. If you know of bizarre games based on other religions, let us know.

The Bible Game

The Bible Game is barely about the Bible, and it's barely a game, which sounds like something Mike Myers would have you discuss when he's feeling verklempt. Theoretically, you play through mini-games inspired by actual Bible stories, like David and Goliath, or Moses parting the Red Sea. In reality, as IGN explained, the games are hardly Biblical, and don't even bother to teach you the meanings behind the stories.

In the David story, you shoot Philistines with a slingshot, but the whole "slay a giant" thing is a secondary thought at best. Meanwhile, in the Red Sea game, you run through the parted sea, avoiding crabs and other nasties while trying not to drown. Then there's the False Idols mini-game, where tykes throw fake prophets into the Lake of Fire, which is supposed to God's job. Basically, they told Bible stories (poorly) but forgot to include the point behind everything you just did.

The Game Boy Advance version is somehow sillier. You play as a kid out to save your village from sinful demons. The only way to stop them is with Bible trivia — luckily for the demons, the game's questions are insanely difficult ("Whose face was changed as if 'it had been the face of an angel' while before the Sanhedrin?"), mostly designed for hardcore Christians who've memorized every verse. The game provides the answers, albeit through scrolls you must search for, can read exactly once, and not reference when challenging the demons. It'd probably be easier to just move to another village and pray the demons don't follow.

Catechumen

In case you're unaware, a Catechumen was a rookie Christian of sorts who had to undergo rigorous Bible study before being accepted as a true Christian. (This was back in Ancient Roman days, when being a Christian meant almost as quick a death sentence as actual murder.) The Catechumen game casts you as one of these young bucks, but instead of learning about the Bible, you shoot people until Jesus enters their hearts. Yes, seriously.

Catechumen is a first-person shooter, like Doom. Your goal is two-fold: rescue your teacher from demons and heathens, and convert as many heathens as possible. This is done through your holy sword, which fills the Romans with the love of God. They drop to their knees, begin to pray, a light shines around them, and the game shouts "Hallelujah!" Who knew conversion was one rip-off Zelda sword away this whole time?

Even if the game's plot was the greatest, most gripping tale ever, the game itself wouldn't live up to it. As Game Revolution explains, the puzzles are mostly of the "push blocks" variety, everything is either a simple hall or room (even the outdoors), movements are stiff and blocky, and the enemy AI rarely gets more intelligent than "run at you." That such basic, uninteresting gameplay comes packaged with a ridiculous plot that turns religious epiphanies into a glorified game of tag makes it doubly baffling anyone gave Catechumen the go-ahead.

Left Behind: Eternal Forces

Left Behind (the story of Revelation for the young and hip crowd) has consumed several forms of media, from the original books, to the Kirk Cameron film saga, and now video games. Left Behind: Eternal Forces is a strategy game where the goal is to convert non-believers left behind after the Rapture. Oh, and if you can't convert them, you can kill them, you peaceable Christian, you.

In the game, you gain "Spirit Points" whenever you successfully convert a heathen to the Jesus side. You lose Spirit Points if you throw up your washed hands and mow them down; that's supposed to be a penalty, but Grand Theft Auto penalizes you for killing, too, and we all know how that goes.

If you're feeling truly devilish, you can even play for the opposite team. Yes, like a Star Wars game that lets you play a Sith Lord, you can actually play Left Behind as a follower of the Antichrist. Don't do it if your goal is to beat the game, thought. You're on the bad side in a Bible game, so you're going to lose and be condemned to eternal damnation no matter what you do.

Because we have a Christian game where you commit murder and or play for the bad guys, it's not surprising that religious groups like The Campaign to Defend the Constitution and the Christian Alliance for Progress lobbied for the game's removal from store shelves, according to SF Gate.

Dance Praise

Dance Dance Revolution is great, but every song being secular, oftentimes with questionable lyrics, can be a bit of a buzzkill if your goal is to celebrate the Lord while burning away the pounds. From that desire came Dance Praise, a dance game where you groove to nothing but inspirational Christian music.

Praise and its extensions contain hundreds of contemporary Christian songs, by rock and pop artists like the David Crowder Band, Casting Crowns, Hillsong, Rich Mullins, TobyMac, and Everyday Sunday. Now, if you've ever listened to Christian music, you'll realize it's not always the most banging and pulse-pounding of genres. It's more about raising your hands than raising the roof. So how one manages to sweat enough to lose weight when dancing to a slow ballad like "(Our God Is An) Awesome God" is unclear. Maybe there's a rave remix you can download.

Captain Bible in: Dome of Darkness

The name "Captain Bible" just sounds hokey and cheesy, and his game is no different. Dome of Darkness sets you, as the titular Captain Bible, on an adventure to save a city from evil, Jesus-hating droids who have enslaved the citizens with lies. You must confront the droids with Bible verses that contradict their lies, so when one claims Jesus died and never came back, you counter with a verse about the Resurrection and the droid falls. Do this over and over again, and eventually you save the city.

Oh, but you have to collect the Bible verses first. See, the act of being beamed into the city has screwed with Captain Bible's computer Bible, deleting all the verses. So now he has to visit various verse machines to get them back, and only then can he select a verse for use in "battle." As PC Gamer points out, why a guy named Captain Bible hasn't memorized the whole thing, or at least grabbed a paperback copy just in case, is never explained. This guy can't even use the good sword and shield until uttering the right verses while praying to God for them. Verses that he can't remember without his machines, remember. That's like the Commandant of the Marines forgetting how guns work.

You can still play Captain Bible online for free if you want. Try not to demand a refund, tempting as it may be.

Super 3-D Noah's Ark

Back in the day, Christian gaming companies like Wisdom Tree would release God-centric games for systems like the NES and SNES. Problem was, Nintendo never authorized these games, likely because they were little more than someone else's game reskinned and retooled to fit a vague Christian theme.

One such game was Super 3-D Noah's Ark, the only unauthorized game ever released in the U.S. for the Super Nintendo, according to EuroGamer. The game is literally Wolfenstein 3D, only instead of shooting Nazis full of holes, Noah slingshots sleep-inducing food at animals on the Ark. It seems that, thanks to cabin fever, the animals are angry and keep trying to attack the poor guy. So you, as Noah, all drug them to sleep so they don't kill you before the flood subsides. There are somehow only 11 animal species on the ark, despite there being quite a bit more today. They're also repeated over and over again, rendering that whole "two of every animal" thing moot.

Adding to the weirdness that is everything about this game, Wisdom Tree recently re-released Noah for $60 (plus $15 more if you want the box). What's more, they're releasing it for the Super Nintendo — not a current-generation system or even a virtual SNES, but rather the '90s machine proper. They also offer Noah on Steam for five bucks. Makes sense … right? Hmm. Imagine sitting in on those corporate strategy meetings.

Sunday Funday

Wisdom Tree was more active in the NES days, releasing several unauthorized Bible games, like the ridiculous Sunday Funday. While certainly preferable to another manic Monday, it didn't make for a particularly wonderful gaming experience.

If you ever played Menace Beach, where you skateboarded your way through enemies to save your girlfriend from gang members, you've played Sunday Funday. It's literally the same game, but with different characters and a more wholesome setup. This time, you're skateboarding your way through enemies to get to Sunday School on time. Why the entire city wants to stop you is never explained, but everyone's serious about it. And it's not just people — the final boss is a bear. A literal paws-and-fur bear would rather murder you than let you learn about Jesus.

Speaking of murder, that's what you repeatedly commit in this game. You can only proceed if you bash people's heads in with your skateboard until they actually die. You see their souls leave their bodies and everything. Probably don't tell your Sunday School teacher about your journey.

Amazingly, Sunday Funday is an authorized ripoff of an unauthorized game. See, Menace Beach was made by a company called Color Dreams, which made nothing but unlicensed NES games. Wisdom Tree, the company that reskinned Menace into Sunday, was owned by Color Dreams, meaning the company that illegally made Nintendo games double-dipped in the morality market.

Jesus Christ RPG

The Bible is a series of epic adventures, so it makes sense to turn it into a role-playing game. What's notable about the creatively titled Jesus Christ RPG is how unabashedly strange it all is.

Available free on Steam, JCRPG is a trilogy of adventures revolving around three major Bible stories: Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection. In each one, you command different party members — in Birth, you play Mary and Joseph, battling an army out to kill their infant son, Jesus. You also play the three wise men, fighting evil with screwball summons like Aladdin's genie. Once the parties convene to celebrate the new baby, you naturally receive 10,000 gold pieces, along with frankincense and myrrh. There's no need for a Phoenix Down — Jesus has that whole "back to life" thing covered already.

In Death, you play a fully grown Jesus, alongside Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, and Judas (whom the game calls Traitor before he even does anything). The final boss is, naturally, Satan — or more accurately, a robot called the Special Amphibian Tactical Assault N-Droid (S.A.T.A.N.), because obviously.

Then there's Resurrection, where Jesus enters Heaven and can purchase any item for free. Hopefully you didn't waste time grinding for gold beforehand. Later he, the angel Gabriel, and the thief who Jesus forgave on the Cross enter Hell to rescue innocent Old Testament people. At this point you're basically invincible, so if you want an actual challenge, deny this game and seek elsewhere.

Journey To Heaven

When putting out a Christian video game, particularly one that shows off the kingdom of Heaven in all its pearly-gated bliss, perhaps it's best to have all characters at least approach a modicum of decency. Journey to Heaven didn't even try, giving players a supporting character who looks like she came straight out of an adult movie.

In Heaven, you play as Joshua, an astronaut who hits an asteroid and dies. He's immediately brought up to Heaven, where he spends the rest of the game basically touring the Kingdom. There are levels and things to do, but there's no sense of urgency — after all, nothing bad happens in Heaven, being Heaven and all. So you work a few machines, relive Creation, and eventually gaze upon God's Throne. It's like a normal game's interactive happy ending, except it's the entire game.

Then there's Axis, your guide through the Golden City. For whatever reason, the makers of the game with the holiest possible premise — to tour Heaven and marvel at its splendor — decided your character's tour guide should have luscious lips, heavy makeup, seductive eyeliner, more than a little cleavage, and the voice of a phone sex operator. She look like she films movies with titles like Vivacious Vixxxens Volume 43 on her days off, and that just seems wrong when the whole point of the game is "praise Jesus." And the game knows this — the official website says she's "more than just a pretty face." They probably should have spent a little less time on her face.

Islamic Fun

On the surface, Islamic Fun seems harmless — among bright colors and cute animals, you play mini games like building a mosque and answering Islamic trivia questions to solve silly puzzles. But some questions are worded in an awfully curious way. Instead of showing pictures of mosques and asking you to identify the Aya Sofia, Islamic Fun asks, "Mustafa Kemal, the hater of Islam, forbade the use of Arabic in Turkey, banned the hijab and closed down the Aya Sofya Mosque in Istanbul. Which is it?" Another question asks, "What was the crime of the Jews of Khayber?" instead of not calling them criminals like most games aimed at preschoolers might. Questions like that, when paired with wacky cartoon kittens, seem less "fun trivia" and more "shiny, happy propaganda."

Then there's the mini game "The Resistance," where for each correct trivia answer, you blow up a Zionist tank. You are now murdering Jews in a supposedly G-rated religious game. And people have noticed: according to an Independent article reposted by (the very right-wing forum) Free Republic, the Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned the game, saying, "This CD is completely inappropriate for children … the sort of material that when taught to children breeds violence and hatred."

The game creator's response was to post, right on Islamic Fun's website — the one littered with kittens, bunnies, and bears wearing pajamas — that "the media is silent when … the zionists use their tanks to slaughter our children but when [they] play a shoot-em-up game where they shoot zionist tanks … we are accused of training terrorists and instilling hatred towards Jews! … The game educate[s] children not to fall for the zionist lie that zionism, jewishness and Judaism are synonymous but to understand that zionism, a racist ideology, has nothing to do with Judaism." That must make Sleepy Bear sad.