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Alive 12
                   Biblical fun on your Gameboy Advance!

Now  here's  something  different,  a  game which has  been  written  for  a
handheld, based on christian values, especially from a USAian slant. We have
the brains behind Crave Entertainment to thank for this. In my case, we also
have the power of emulation under MacOS,  and the power of warez to allow me
to consider this masterpiece further.

Crave Entertainment describe their product thus;

"You  know  how you are supposed to keep your mind on God wherever  you  go?
Now  you  can do just that while you play The Bible Game  on  your  portable
Gameboy  Advance.  This new game by Crave puts your video gaming skills  and
Bible knowledge to the test in action and quiz challenges for all ages. It's
interactive fun on the go. Don't leave home without it."

We won't!

Anyway,  browsing  Crave's  website not only revaled this,  but also a  very
different looking PS2/Xbox game.  The bigger consoles support a more arcade-
based  game  style  with totally different  graphics.  The  Gameboy  Advance
resorts  to  something that looks a lot like an isometric  arcade  adventure
with  a 45 degree pseudo 3-D viewpoint,  of the style of later 8-bit  games,
and  quite a lot of earlier 16-bit games.  The look and feel wouldn't be out
of place on a stock ST.

The Bible Game begins with a scene showing a young boy and girl asking their
parents  about  the 'Armor of God' (All americanisms kept intact!)  After  a
short  blurb  on  what  that armor actually is and what  it  does,  the  boy
exclaims  that  "This armor sounds really cool!" Just then,  things  take  a
sinister turn,  when the cry goes up "Run! the master deceiver has escaped!"
Clearly it is time for drastic action, and you get to choose the sex of your
player, boy or girl. The chosen one is ready to put on the armor of god! and
go and get that nasty deceiver!

The kid of your choice warps away to a far off land where sin has overridden
a  small village.  It is your goal as the child to walk the land,  squishing
evil bugs and answering bible trivia challenges to rid the world of evil."

In  a "humorous"  touch,  these bugs are called "Herra-ticks".  They come in
two distinct categories,  the small skinny ones are Methodist bugs,  and the
fat squishy ones are Roman Catholic, possibly?

Stomping bugs seems to be the main action part of the game,  perhaps you are
stamping on the evil designs of the dark one himself?

At this point in the review, I decided to google for "Satan Bug".

The  Satan  Bug (1965) The Satan Bug - Cast,  Crew,  Reviews,  Plot Summary,
Comments,  Discussion,  Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Photos, Showtimes, Link
to Official Site,  Fan Sites. - 46k - Cached -

Similar pages  Satan Bug Natas Virus Information Helping you understand  the
virus  Satan  Bug  Natus.  ...  Satan  Bug  Natas,  or S_Bug,  is  a  highly
Polymorphic  virus  that  has  been  reported to  be  in  the  wild  in  ... - 17k - Cached - Similar pages

Hmmm, the first entry refers to a film of the Alastair Maclean novel of that
name, where a nasty virus threatens to wipe out the world. The second refers
to  a  nasty virus which threatens to 'own' all the peecees  in  the  world!
Nothing  to do with the 'armor of god' at all here,  but I'm digressing  way
too much now!

It's  not just about the squishy little fellows though,  you are given vague
directions  from  time  to  time by  helpful  villagers,  apart  from  those
occasions  where  the audio clip cuts off in mid senten...  Then  the  music
changes,  and  you go head to head with the deceivers minions,  who spit the
occasional fireball at you.  You can throw holy water to stun them,  if this
is  to  hand,  and  you  have to go up to them and head-butt  the  bad  guy,
whereupon you are locked in mortal Bible question answering combat with it!

Some  questions  are obscure,  but others recognisable from the  religiously
encoded  parts  of  your DNA,  or the stuff they shoved into  your  head  at
school.  Winning  one  of these contests means that you collect one  of  the
fragments of keys and different parts of the garden are unlocked. There is a
brief  "action" sequence with more bugs in an underground passage to get  to
the next bit.  Winning all five of these sessions, including a final mano-y-
mano  session  with  the deceiver himself,  gets you a complete  key,  which
unlocks  a  church door,  and you've won your first piece of the  'Armor  of

I  get  the  feeling I got further than most  reviewers,  as  the  landscape
changed  completely  to a desert scene,  and the bugs changed to  scorpions.
Also the irritating background music changed to something else.  The rest of
it  is  still the same,  apart from the underground passages gaining  a  new
element, where you have to MIND THE GAP! At this point, I figured I had seen

Graphically, as I said earlier, it strongly resembles an oldschool isometric
pseudo-3d graphic adventure.  The graphics for the collectible power-ups are
very small.  I played this on an emulator with a 2x zoom mode enabled, which
was ok. With no zoom, the sprites and power ups all looked rather small. I'd
say that that the game was graphically uninspired.

The  continuous  rolling soundtrack defaulted to some generic 'this  is  how
music  in  the  olden  days in  the  bible  sounded'  vaguely  mediterranean
flavoured  ditty,  which got very annoying after a while,  or even a minute.
The  sampled speech clips,  when a villager gives you directions or warnings
wasn't totally reliable, as mentioned earlier.

The difficulty level has a range of easy,  medium,  and hard.  In the 'easy'
level it is difficult to lose a life, as your energy rebuilds itself quickly
(an indicator in the shape of a heart), and there are power-booster pick-ups
in easy reach.  When playing it 'hard', the bugs are a bit harder to squish,
but not much harder,  but the deceiver has had a turbo boost, and is quite a
bitch  to  get to without losing a life.  Once you've done that,  the  bible
questions, amazingly, are the same as on the easy level!

Mark  Bozon  of of the Neoseeker website had some things to say  about  this
game as  well.  His views are worth adding,  as he looks at the downsides of
playing it on real hardware, rather than an emulation like I did.

"The  Bible Game is littered with flaws within the game's  functionality  as
well.  The  game controls very clunky,  and art doesn't always match up with
collision  points.  A load screen is used between each level which makes  no
sense for a GBA game, and it actually displayed for more than a few seconds.
There  is no battery save either,  which simply reaffirms the idea that this
was  a game never meant to actually be played.  Recorded audio for the  kids
and  townspeople  skips like a bad CD,  and the music will randomly cut  out
during scripted sequences and battles. This title screams rush job, and even
the aspects that had promise were ruined completely."

His summing up goes thus;

 "The Game Boy Advance has been around for over four and a half years,  and
gamers  have  seen everything from blockbuster hits to total  flops.  It  is
astonishing that after this many years the quality for products can actually
go  down.  The Bible Game manages to take a simple mini-game based franchise
and  attempt  to go above and beyond by constructing a full adventure  on  a
smaller  platform  without  the help of a strong design,  battery  save,  or
console inspiration.  Sadly, The Bible Game is a failed attempt plagued with
troublesome  bugs,  weak  gameplay,  and little to no style.  What could have
been an entertaining and educational children's game turned into yet another
casualty of the industry. Avoid at all costs."

In my own view, it would take a very devout small child to get to the end of
this before getting bored with the essential sameness of the game.

Graphics:-  60%  -  Not  bad,  if  it were an ST game,  too  small  for  the
restricted screen size of the GBA. A whiff of "will this do?" in some places
to be blunt.

Sound:-  30% - Repetitive and unimaginative soundtracks,  and comedy  speech

Playability:- 70% - Fair to middling.  Not a hard game to get into,  but not
one you will see through to the end.

Overall:-  50%  - Forcing kids to play this will raise a new  generation  of
militant atheists!

And I've not even said anything about the overt religious propaganda  aspect
in this review, blummin' heck!
CiH, for the Alive Xmas Special,Dec '05
Alive 12