Those of you who have been following us for a while might know what to expect from Wisdom Tree. If you've never heard of the company before, I recommend you take a look at the related articles linked at the bottom of this page.
Once again, Wisdom Tree serves us three games in one. I don't know why they insist on doing this, but at least it gives us some variation in the graphics.
This time around, the Christmas Gospel drew the short straw. You might wonder how much action you can squeeze out of the journey of the tree wise men, Joseph and Mary's flight to Egypt and the search for Jesus. The answer is 'loads', provided you take some liberties in the name of art.
THE WISE MEN
The first of the three games features Melchior, Balthazaar and the third wise man whose name noone ever remembers, on their way to the crib. It seems they've completely forgotten to bring gifts, and this being in the days before gas stations and glove compartments that just might contain a pinch present, they have to raid jungles and cities to obtain myrrh, incence and gold. The real stars of this game are the three camels the wise men are riding. Their jumping abilities are unparalleled even by Italian plumbers, and they somehow manage to spit monster apes and other animals to death.
If you've ever played a Wisdom Tree game, you know the only thing that keeps you going is the possibility that you'll meet some biblical bad guy or other at the end of a level, and you also know that this never happens. The Kong ape seen above is the closest thing we get to a boss in this game, and he appears in the middle of a level in the first half of the game. This no-boss concept has nothing to do with no-violence policies or faithfulness to the original texts - these games feature some of the weirdest violent acts ever shown in video games (Sunday Funday), and historical accuracy is more an exception than a rule (Bible Adventures). So, why do they insist on creating games without any major enemies? Because they're shitty programmers, that's why.
If you look at the picture to the right, you will see one of the strangest enemies I've ever met in a video game: Blue Immortal Rabid Killer Duck. This exceptional marine bird runs around like crazy and can not be killed. Mysterious forces are at work here, mark my words. Why we're denied killing small adorable animals is beyond my apprehension, as we in other games from the same developer are allowed to kill old ladies and throw coconuts at unsuspecting titmice.
Well, that pretty much sums it up. Not much action in this game, the goal is mainly to run across all twelve levels and pick up as much myrrh as possible. In fact, screw the myrrh, it doesn't help you in any way, just run as fast as you can and don't stop until it's over and you receive the message "YOU HAVE REACHED BABY JESUS!"
FLIGHT TO EGYPT
Herod wants to kill baby Jesus, so Joseph and Mary have to escape to Egypt and hide God incarnate. Herod obviously has quite an influence on people and animals, as everyone is out to kill the little baby - from fish to killer bunnies to disgruntled sheperds who obviously never received an invitation to the divine baby shower. But I can't blame everone for their mood, if you had to live in a world where music resembling the Barney jingle was on continous loop, you'd be a little edgy yourself. Did I mention the previous game's music was We Three Kings, and that it played over and over without ever taking a break? Even not between levels? Christmas is ruined.
On their way to Egypt, Mary and Joseph decide to drop by the North Pole and look at the beautiful scenery. Here, they meet their old Pharisee teacher. Small world. Joseph wanted to take some pictures of the penguins, but left his camera at home, and didn't remember the penguins live on the South Pole before after he already had passed Spitzbergen. You know, with guardians like this, I'm amazed our creed survived its diaper years.
If you look at the pictures, it could probably seem like this is The Wise Men over again, and in a way it is. The difference is, Mary and Joseph aren't rich kings, and can't afford genetically enhanced camels. They have to settle with a donkey that has a kicking range of a whopping inch, and thus is useless. Luckily, the levels are even more straightforward this time, so all you have to do is run and never look back. When it's all over, an angel comes through the window, nearly giving Joseph a heart attack, to tell him that Jesus really is the son of God and not just some bastard kid. The donkey is not too sure, however.
JESUS AND THE TEMPLE
Jesus is now twelve, and joins Mary and Joseph on a trip to Jerusalem. Suddenly, Jesus is gone, and the worried parents set out to look for him. Don't worry, he's in the temple.
In this game, you control Joseph on some levels and Mary on others. The levels in this game are designed a little different from those in the others: some scroll forwards, some upwards, and one particularly annoying level scrolls downwards without indicating where you should go right to finish. This would of course not be a problem if you didn't die when you jump down that 23rd and last platform. Stupid Israeli terrain.
Of course, this all happened in the days when Jerusalem still was a tropical rainforest and mighty waterfalls dominated the territory. A little hint, Joseph: If your kid is in the big city for the first time and you lose him, he probably won't run straight to the middle of the jungle. Try the arcade.
After a long hike among wild beasts in unappealing moors while humming along to the traditional British melody Greensleeves, Joseph checks if Jesus just might be in a castle built from solid gold and diamonds. But if you think Joseph is off track, then take a look at the Holy Mother:
Yeah, sure. He'll probably be hanging out on top of ancient skyscrapers. See anyone else up there, Mary? That's because you're the only one stupid enough to go climbing on top of buildings! For crying out loud, your son is God in man, give him some credit!
Well, you get the drift. Level in, level out, stop dreaming about meeting any bosses, and get your reward: another picture. Jesus has been in the temple all the time, and the priests are obviously very impressed by his wisdom and knowledge.
But wait! It's not over yet!
That's right, to beat this game, you'll have to give your heart to Jesus. I have shown you the door, whether you will enter is up to you. Choose wisely.