There is, it appears, a Christian version of just about everything. Movies, action figures; even diet plans get slapped with a 'Christian' label and sold to the faithful. It's no surprise then that since video games have been increasingly big business, beyond the mainstream there's a proud history of games designed specifically for the Christian segment of the market.
In a culture where violent games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto routinely find their way into the hands of gamers far younger than their 18-certificates recommend, parents are right to be concerned about the content of the games. Some might have been tempted by these gems; a collection of spectacular and surprising games that will surely have you throwing away that copy of Resident Evil 27, and hungering after some Bible-based computer action...
Super 3D Noah's Ark
Remember all those violent, first person shooter games in the 90s like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D? Well imagine that someone created a Super Nintendo (SNES) game which took the same engine, but replaced all the weapons with a stun-slingshot, and all the monsters and zombies with angry animals wandering around a giant ark. Imagine no longer: Super 3D Noah's Ark sent an elderly Noah on an endless quest to retrieve his hordes of world-rebuilding animals, including Ernie the Elephant, Carl the Camel and a lot more than two goats.
Captain Bible in 'Dome of Darkness'
Back in the less graphically adventurous early 90s, this adventure game pitted a scripture-memorising super hero against a legion of evil robots. The robots had 'trapped the citizens of a city in lies' and it was up to our hero Captain Bible to 'learn the truth' and, yes, set them free. All combat in the game saw the captain utilising 'The sword of the spirit and the shield of faith,' for which the manufacturers should receive warm applause.
Foundations of Hope Online
An attempt to create a Christian version of World of Warcraft that never quite made it. Developed by the oddly-titled 'Lethal Games Corporation', the Massively-Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) was based on the little-known 'Foundations of Hope' trilogy of fantasy books (currently available for 99p on Kindle) and had a quite magnificent plot set-up. 400 years in the future, the ill-fated press release explains, "sun storms continously bombard the Earth, wiping away technology and setting civilisations back to medieval-like times" – which presumably explains the quality of the graphics. Best of all, "dragons have returned from a time of old, and an intelligent lizard species from within the Earth now wages war on the humans." That the game was cancelled before release is surely the greatest tragedy of all time; especially because all the weapons in the game were 'gifts from God.' What a shame we never got to see a man battling a dragon using only the gift of tongues.
Remember the Guitar Hero games? Remember how they were ruined by all that heathen music? Guess what – there's a righteous version! Guitar Praise was released in 2008 to universal acclaim (among all the bands that got royalties from it) and was followed by expansion packs including one entirely featuring songs by Stryper. Guitar Praise only worked with it's own specially-designed plastic worship guitar controller. The rainbow strap was optional.
King of Kings: the early years
This 'unofficial' Nintendo Entertainment System game from 1991 gave gamers the opportunity to play through three of the early stories in the life of Christ. Level one involved safely negotiating the desert on camel-back as one of the Magi on his way to Jesus, soundtracked by a tinny rendition of 'We Three Kings' (really). Level two, which is fairly similar, keeps the camel but exchanges wise man for the Holy Family on their flight to Egypt; while level three places the gamer in control of Joseph, searching for a 12-year-old Jesus on a trip to the temple. Just to clarify: this actually existed.
Left Behind: The Video Game
Not content with filing bookshelves with their 'interesting' take on Biblical End Times prophecy, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins also moved into digital territory with a series of three action/adventure video games set in the Left Behind universe. Players controlled the post-rapture 'Tribulation Force', with the objective of converting as many non-believers to Christianity as possible. According to one blogger, characters would shout "Praise the Lord!" after killing someone who refused to convert. Panned by critics, the first game made an estimated $2 million, which just goes to show that if you brand something 'Christian', you can instantly reduce its quality and still find people to buy it. And that's just as true of the books...