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Bible Adventures

(Boss Fight Books #7)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  247 ratings  ·  39 reviews
In the beginning, a small unlicensed game development company was hit with divine inspiration: They could make a lot of money (and escape the wrath of Nintendo) by creating games for Christians. With the release of the 1990 NES platformer Bible Adventures, the developers saw what they had made, and it was good. Or, at least, good enough.

Based on extensive research and orig
Paperback, 168 pages
Published March 2015 by Boss Fight Books
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Peter Derk
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: petestopof2015
Man, I tore through this book. What a great story. There are a handful of really fascinating stories that are coming out of the video game world, and this book captures one that's gone mostly untold, or at least hasn't been condensed into a single spot until now.

More than the other Boss Fight Books, this one is a great read for gamers and non-gamers alike. It covers the story of Wisdom Tree, a company created to make non-Nintendo-licensed games for the NES that had a basis in religion. I mean, s
Jamie Perez
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book really nails the balance of personal and journalism. And in small ways managed to bring you back to a time before the Internet (but just before, not the Middle Ages) -- a time that was different in so many ways that we strain to appreciate now... Or more likely just forget. The real joy in the book, for me, were the essayistic/ rhetorical flights of fancy around mid-book. The off-the-cuff re-telling of the life of Jesus in RPG terms? Yes, please.
Luke Harrington
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolute joy of a book to read. Durham doesn't just recount the fascinating history of an obscure/famous NES game; he weaves a fascinating tapestry of questions about belief and doubt. ...more
I really wanted to like this book, given that the subject matter seemed interesting and (relatively) undocumented.
Ultimately, what turned me off was the shifting tone of the work. The straight-and-narrow threading of various firsthand accounts from employees at Wisdom Tree was great, along with the research put into the niche Christian bookstore market. The descriptions of the games themselves were pretty thorough, but not super interesting to read (maybe I should've played along with the book?)
Margaret Sankey
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
How could a small gaming company survive in a world where Nintendo installed chips to make sure that no unauthorized games could be played on their NES system, or where any major store who sold unauthorized games would find themselves without the blessings of Nintendo? The out of the box answer was to make "Christian" games--collect animals 2x2, work up to fighting Goliath by hurling things at Philistines, launch baby Moses into the river--created by a team of people who had almost no interest i ...more
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've read a few Boss Fight books now and have really enjoyed them. This might be the best one yet. Gabe nails the mix of game history, personal reflection, and sheer entertainment. I was sad when the book ended because I wanted more more more. If you have any interest in the peculiar corners of video game history, make sure to buy this book. You will love it. ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice mixture of history lesson, nostalgia, and musings on the journey of personal belief.
Wesley Rea
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm a bit torn on this book. It was quite interesting to read about the history and motivations behind one of the most infamous attempts at creating the NES Bible-based game, Bible Adventures. Having interviews with actual team members who put it together definitely helps to see the game in a different light.

On the other hand, I can't say I was a fan of how the book was written. I totally understand that this book is partly about the author's personal experience with the game and I'm fine with t
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This ended up being a very uneven book. There were some fascinating bits about the history of this niche of "Christian" games and some great background information gathered from personal interviews. However, it also felt like the author was trying too hard to be one of the "cool kids" in mocking Christianity. I get it, some aspects of the Christian culture and Christian retail truly are ridiculous, but to take every opportunity to be as snarky as possible just seemed insecure. "Yeah, here's anot ...more
Ben Young
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great first read from the Boss Fight Books series! I was happy this book went beyond waxing poetic on how shit these games are, instead extending its investigation of these stinkers into what they say about the game dev industry, faith, and the intersection of religion and commerce. It's truly a fascinating tale that goes way beyond these bizarre pixellated Christian games from a bygone era. Excited to read more from this series, I'd definitely recommend this book even to those not super familia ...more
Alexander Monaco
"Bible Adventures" is easily the best of the Boss Fight Books series that I've read so far; once I got started, it was very hard to put down. Durham takes readers back to the late 80s and tells an obscure and hilarious story of a game developer creating awful Christian NES games despite being staffed almost entirely by atheists. Throughout the entire book, the interspersed discussion of Christian commercialism and the author's own struggles with religion add a fascinating dimension to an ultimat ...more
Josh Freund
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Informative and thoroughly entertaining look at an obscure(ish) company that used to make Christian (and I use that term loosely) video games, with observations from the author's own faith journey sprinkled in. As someone who was part of the target market for Wisdom Tree's titles as a kid and whose Christian views have also evolved quite a bit since then, I found this to be a relevant and worthwhile read. ...more
Dave Corun
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not expecting this to be as well written or insightful. I thought I was going to read a book about the terrible NES game Bible Adventures, but he had much more to offer.

I picked this up from a Humble Bundle. This was the first Boss Fight Book I've read and I'm looking forward to reading the other ones.
Tommy Prast
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fucking FASCINATING- specifically about how game companies in the 80s tried to circumvent licensing bc Nintendo was kind of a control freak about what was published on their system (after the Atari debacle, can you blame them?)
SUCH an interesting development history for these games
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read, but only about 1/3 of the book is actual behind-the-scenes description of the creators and creation of the game. The rest is about the religious context in which the author played it in his youth, and details about the gameplay.
Ross Harrison
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
started out well. wanted to hear more about the people and their live than the games.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very fun look at an odd period in gaming history. What was there was pretty good; rating lower mainly because it was so short and a little superficial due to that.
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A pretty good overview on a strange sub-genre of retro games, with little sprinkles of surprisingly thoughtful insight on religion as a whole. I enjoyed it.

4/5 stars
Michael J Brown
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Mar 15, 2021 rated it liked it
Christianity + Games + Capitalism
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've played this game! A neighbor across the street whose parents were pretty devout had it, and he brought it over to our house while my sister and he and I all gathered around the NES, inserted the strange black cartridge, and watched the game load up. I have only vague memories of the David game and my memories of Moses are of hurling the baby across the level and hoping it would still be there when we got to where he had fallen, but we spent a lot of time in the Noah game. Picking up animal ...more
Bob Anderson
Oct 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Yet another book about games, I may have a problem. This one is a well done exploration of faith in a modern entertainment-based world, with plenty of humor. Watching Youtube videos of these awful awful games when they show up in the text is a must.
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked this up as part of a book bundle. Like many people with an interest in retro gaming, I was vaguely familiar with Wisdom Tree in the context of their having produced Christian-specific unlicensed games, some of the rarest and most collectible games for the NES specifically, but I didn't really know anything actually about the games themselves or how they had come about.

This book was an interesting history of Wisdom Tree and the secular company it started out as, Color Dreams, told by som
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another Boss Fights Books... book. I liked this one, the author Gabe Durham is the founder of Boss Fight Books. I'm glad that he contributed to the series and I think he picked a great game.

This is one of the books that is about more than just one game, it's about a developer. Wisdom Tree released games for the Christian Games market (a thing the more or less invented) during the heyday of the NES.

The "hook" of this story is that the guys making these games were all atheists. I didn't find that
I read Bible Adventures, a book about Christian games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, hoping to get some sort of insight on the development process for unlicensed NES games. This book did have that, alongside detailed, intelligent discussions of the author's personal relationship to Christianity, the way in which Christian bookstores served as a marketing tool for the developer, the often dismissive attitude of American audiences towards Christian entertainment, and quite a bit of inciden ...more
Brian McDonald
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is one of the better Boss Fight Books.

The books looks at a few games created by Wisdom Tree for NES and SNES. It is an interesting look at a developer who made games for Christians, most of these games were reskins with a very thin Biblical theme (Mario or Zelda Clones for example).

It would have been easy for the author to mock these games (and the dev) but the author takes a more sympathetic approach and looks at the games through the lens of his lapsed Christian faith. In taking this app
Eric Mesa
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was interesting to read about this game from someone that had a similar upbringing and encountered it for the the first time at church, as did I. It was always a weird thing to exist, especially since I didn't know at the time why it was a blue cartridge. He does a great job of reviewing the history behind the company that ended up creating the Wisdom Tree subsidiary. It was a crazy time to be in the games business and the company was no exception. I also enjoyed the look at the games that ca ...more
Steven Jacke
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Did you grow up in Christian culture? Do you remember those weird Christian games from the Christian bookstore?

This is a short history of the company that made those games. How the company came to be is interesting, and intersects with a lot of the other video gaming moments (like the Great Atari Crash, Nintendo's censorship, the Activision lawsuit, etc). It is an interesting tale, but could probably be told in about 20 or 30 pages.

The Wisdom Tree story lends itself to this, reflecting on the fa
Nicholas Ahlhelm
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating take on a weird unlicensed NES publisher, Durham covers the history of game designer Wisdom Tree while also analyzing the entire Christian publishing industry, all through the eyes of a lapsed Christian that still clearly has many positive views of his former faith despite his own doubt. The contradictions make this a fascinating read and make me quite interesting in checking out more of the Boss Fight Books series.
Matthew Meade
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It weaves Bible camp kids, 80s nostalgia, international copyright law, and cooperate espionage into a weird and engaging tale. There is an adept writing style and various pop culture observations usually only made by the likes of wish Chuck Klosterman and a depth typically only plumbed by writers like Charles D'Ambrosio. This is good stuff. One of the best books I have read in years. ...more
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Gabe Durham is the author of a novel, FUN CAMP, and a book about 90s Christian Nintendo games, BIBLE ADVENTURES. He is the editor of Boss Fight Books. He lives in Los Angeles.

Other books in the series

Boss Fight Books (1 - 10 of 28 books)
  • EarthBound (Boss Fight Books, #1)
  • Chrono Trigger (Boss Fight Books, #2)
  • ZZT (Boss Fight Books, #3)
  • Galaga (Boss Fight Books, #4)
  • Jagged Alliance 2 (Boss Fight Books, #5)
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