SPIRITUAL WARFARE August 06 2003


There. As far as I know, this is the last Wisdom Tree game available for Nintendo. Well, except Exodus, but that one's just a Boulder Dash conversion with Moses pushing rocks around the desert, and can't support an entire article on its own. I figured early on that the only way I could get these games out of my system was by playing them and torment other people with renarrations of my sufferings, and I think we're finally at the HOLY CRAP FRAGGLE ROCK IS ON!

Wow, that certainly was a welcome trip down nostalgia lane. I don't know what it is about Fraggle Rock. It was my favourite show when I was a kid, and unlike other shows that completely shatter your memories of what they were like ten years ago, this one was just as awesome today. True, the logics of the whole thing aren't as convincing this time around. For example, how big is Fraggle Rock anyway? I mean, there's a two-minute run to the ogre guys. And there's a two-minute run to Doc's place. Then why the hell doesn't Doc notice the trolls stomping around in his backyard? And another thing, the fraggles are twelve inches tops, while uncle Mac is able to put quarters into a parking meter. He's a giant! My only guess is that fraggles are reptiles. They grow until they die, you know.

Right, the game. This is the fifth Wisdom Tree game featured here at EO, and I'm not going to explain what kind of company Wisdom Tree is one more time. If you just recently found this site, I'd advice you to check out the related items at the bottom of this page if you want to be brought up to speed.

In Spiritual Warfare, you control a kid who for some reason has been elected God's right hand on Earth. Apparently, demons have corrupted the entire population of your town, and you have to convert them back. Every once in a while, the convertees leave their soul behind, represented by a dove, and if you collect enough of these, you can buy stuff from clerk angels. Like in the picture above, where you can buy the Mighty Grapes of Joy for the low low price of 75 immortal souls. Yeah, it sounds pretty wrong. To convert people, you throw fruit at them. But not just ordinary fruit, they're fruit of the spirit:

Pear - represents meekness. Travels with medium speed, short range.
Pomegranate - represents love. Travels in a zig-zag pattern and can penetrate walls.
Apple - represents patience. Travels with low speed, long range.
Grapes - represent joy. Explode and scatter in all directions.
Banana - represents faith. Travels with high speed, long range.

Through the course of the game, you'll also aquire some items to help you pass obstacles:

Prayer - restores your health, if you're willing to trade tens souls for half a heart.
Anointing oil - restores your health.
Raft - played Zelda?
Samson's jawbone - boomerang.
Vial of God's Wrath - an effective way to bless people is blowing them to bits with this.

And then there is the Armor of God. Not the Jackie Chan movie, the items.

Belt of Truth - lets you move rocks.
Breastplate of Righteousness - reduces damage by 1/2.
Boots of Preparation - lets you walk on red-hot coal. Barefoot walking is for pagans.
Sword of the Spirit - kills demons, lumberjacks and beach bullies.
Helmet of Salvation - makes you resistant to dynamite.
Shield of Faith - guards you against fire arrows.

Your quest starts in the park. In the picture on your right, you can see I've just exorcised a demon out from a guy who tried to kill me with a switchblade. Luckily, the demons are allergic to fruit, so they're not that difficult to get rid of. If only Max Von Sydow had known that, he could have solved the whole deal over the phone instead of travelling all the way from picturesqe Iran to spend two days in a cold room with a demon and father Carras.

You may have noticed that the park is completely black. This is because all the contours and black areas of the character sprites are transparent, so if they were to walk on, say grass, their beards, sunglasses and armpits would suddenly turn green. Like the guy on the left who's walking on something brown. If you can tell what it's supposed to be, you're a better man than I am.

When you've exorcised a certain number of demons, an angel appears on the screen. If you catch it, you get to answer questions taken from the Bible to earn a few quick souls. The people in charge of these quizzies are a little creative sometimes, though. For instance, when I was asked if Jesus said divorce is acceptable, I got it wrong when I answered 'yes.' Wisdom Tree seem to have forgotten Jesus is said to have granted the world's first official divorce. Eggs on yo face, Wisdom Tree.

After you've walked through the park for a while, you meet the level boss. I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like, but I think it's a bag lady. Actually, it's just a grey square with a bent white triangle on top, so it could also be a miniature hurricane-stricken house.

The next stage is a city. Here you meet Hell's Angels and road maintenance workers, and you also pass a bar where drunken bastards flow out like there's a drunken bastard pride parade going on. A couple of pears to the head, and they're all on the right path again. I though I could just as well drop in and bless a couple of pimps, but an angel appeared and told me I'd been an idiot to walk into a bar. Then he took my belt away and told me to go get it in the slum if I wanted it back. Angels can be real bastards sometimes. I walked all the way down to the slum, retrieved by belt, and got back to business. At one point, I walked into what I assumed was a bank, but turned out to be a casino. The angel came barging in, told me I was a moron, ripped my belt away, and threw it back to the slum. Goddamn stuck-up idiot angel.

After a walk along the beach and a trip to the docks, the next scenatrio is the forest. This place is absolutely swarming with lumberjacks and archers, and features one of the most aggravating moments in the game: after I had detonated the dynamite blocking my way, I walked on to the next screen. Where I found myself surrounded with dynamite. I tried walking back, but oh, wait, that way is also blocked by dynamite. I actually had to kill myself, and what's worse, it took me half an hour to walk back to the place I was.

Crap, I forgot about the airport. Out on the runway, you meet a Hare Krishna guy. Heathen! But don't worry, all it takes is a banana, and KAZAAM his hair grows out, his robe is replaced by normal clothes, a demon pops out from his head, and he gets down on his knees and prays. It's not all that difficult, you know. Just walk over to the Muslim fruit grocer down the street, tip his vegetable cart over his head, and he's a God-fearing citizen like you, me and president Bush.

The third last area is a suburb. I met a couple of door-to-door salesmen, but figured they weren't worth it. Then, after I had crossed the road and been hit by twelve cars, I found an interesting type of enemy: NINJAS!

We already established in the article NINJAS! that no game is complete without a ninja or two. All right, I never really established anything in that article, but that's what I meant to say. If I have learned anything from spending my childhood years playing Nintendo instead of joining the boy scouts or adapting to sunlight, it's that ninjas are kick-ass assassins who inhabit every single dark nook of New York City and kidnap the president the minute you turn your back. And sometimes, they steal the all the radios and television sets in NYC to build a giant hi-tech motorhome and research on slime that alters the genetical configuration of whoever touches it. That's pretty hardcore.

While in the suburbs, I went to church, where I received the following message:

The only missing piece of armor is the Shield of Faith. It can be found in the Demon Stronghold. The entrance to the stronghold is in the southwest section of the prison. May God be with you.

Demon's Stronghold?! Prison?! I'm not really sure about the morals of this game. Are we supposed to accept the fact that God sends a kid across town on his own while everyone is out to kill him, and then decide that he should sneak through prison, where not only the convicts, but also the wardens try to disembowel him? And German shepherds? If I ever come home and find my future kids playing this evil piece of circuitry, I'll run straight out and get them the newest Grand Theft Auto game instead.

Soon, the nature of the stronghold is revealed: this is Hell. Hell with a capital H. The Hell. Brimstone and sulphur. This place is swarming with demons, imps and invisible evil forces. And lava. And pits of slime. In fact, take the levels of Doom and flatten them out to a 2D-scenario, and you've got Spiritual Warfare.

The first boss I encountered was a giant hand throwing fire trolls down at me from the top of the screen. To beat him, I had to climb the ladders leading up to it and strike it down with my sword. It's pretty much like an infernal version of Donkey Kong. Only after I beat him, I didn't get a girlfriend, but a stupid shield. The final boss is a little more interesting, though:

Satan! Dear lord, this is just so mind-numbingly skull-bashingly insane that I don't really know what to say. I soon figured out that that he was only vulnerable when he was red, and tried to throw my sword at him whenever he let go of his blue tan. It took a while to at all get a shot through to him, though, the rock in the river of lava blocking my way and all. Plus, he kept flinging demons at me to push me back through the door. After fifteen minutes and no result to show for my efforts, I got so frustrated that I pounded my keyboard in a fit of rage, and suddenly, his body parts flew all over the place. During my rampage, I had unintentionally flung a cluster of grapes at him. "You'll need the sword in the Demon's Stronghold" my ass! All it took to defeat Satan once and for all was a little fruit. I guess he's a diabetic or something, and the monosaccharides knocked him into a grand mal.

Ding dong, the Devil's dead. I'm pretty confident this is the last Wisdom Tree game I'll ever have to play, and I can't say I think that's a bad thing. I can only handle so much fundamentalism, and I'm pretty sure another one of these games would tip me over the edge.

Spiritual Warefare is not without its brain-mushingly stupid moments, but all in all, it's not such a bad game. Of course it puts you in a couple of situations where you'd rather go torch a church than try to figure out how to read the map, but by Wisdom Tree's standards, this is quite an accomplishment. Still, you should never ever play it. Play Zelda instead. Well, it's my birthday, and I'm off to party. Take care, and may God bless you in all that you do.