Review: The Story of Noah’s Ark (Nintendo DS)

The Story of Noah’s Ark
Publisher: SouthPeak Games
Developer: Razorback Developments
Genre: Interactive Storybook
Release Date: 10/26/2010

Picture a zookeeper. One day, he walks around the zoo and feels dissatisfied with the current crop of animals. One monkey is kind of a jerk. These bear cubs aren’t nearly as cute as the last batch. This lousy panda won’t mate no matter how slutty he dresses the other panda.

The zookeeper says, “I need to start fresh.”

Then he proceeds to drown every animal in the zoo.

Then he goes home and drowns his family.

Because he loves them.

I think it’s a great story to tell kids.

Let’s Review

1. Story

All right, so my parable isn’t the real story of Noah’s Ark; the biblical version is way crazier and crueler. The way it goes down is that Yahweh is angry that the people he made aren’t acting like he wants them to act. He decides to flood the entire Earth and kill pretty much everything. It’s like deleting your Sims data, only wetter.

God doesn’t want to have to bust out his magic people clay again, so he asks a 600 year old man to build a 450 foot long boat to store two (or seven) of every animal. He gives Noah seven days to built this massive ark and collect samples from each of the millions (or billions) of species on Earth from Australia to Greenland. I mean finding all 300,000 species of beetles must have been one heck of a task.

God then floods the earth, killing all the adorable kittens, playful puppies, cute little pandas, silly capybaras, ugly ducklings, flowers, chinchillas, babies, infants and toddlers.

A few months later Noah, his wife, their three sons and the three wives of those sons land the ship on a mountain. After a little while, Noah becomes a bit of a drunk and occasionally runs around naked. His son, Ham, sees him naked, so Noah curses Ham’s son named Canaan.

I don’t really understand that part either.

Noah dies at the ripe old age of 950.

The story of Noah and his party boat is silly, even by Old Testament standards. I wrote a lot more about it five years ago.

Naturally, since this is a kid’s game, all the drunken nudity and depictions of things actually dying are censored. Instead we just get a Santa Claus looking dude helping some friendly and colorful animals onto his cruise ship. God causes a flood to get rid of “evil”.

And that is why we have no evil to this very day.

2. Graphics

The graphics here are cute and kid friendly. Everything is at about the same level of cartoony-ness as Scribblenauts.

Sadly, Noah doesn’t save any werewolves, Unicorns, Pirates or Cthulhu.

(Scribblenauts – 1, Noah – 0)

There isn’t much going on in terms of animation. While nothing is really static, there isn’t a whole lot of motion in the game. Most characters a limited to a few movement cycles. For instance, Noah will watch you play a mini-game, occasionally mime surprise, and will clap every now and then. Sometimes instead of Noah watching you, it will be Noah’s wife. (I believe her name is Emzara, but the bible doesn’t care too much about describing women.)

3. Sound

The game is full of generic DS music for the Kindergarten set. Nothing memorable, but nothing offensive.

The narrator and all the voice over-folk are all adequate.

And British.

As such, the pronunciations are a little different. So, if you get this game for your little one, don’t be surprised if she starts saying zebra as though it rhymed with Debra.

4. Control and Gameplay

All right, as this is an “interactive story book”, the game wants you to hold the DS sideways to trick you into thinking that it is a book.

DECEIVERS!

Also, since this is an “interactive story book” with a few minigames thrown in, it should come as no surprise that the thing is almost exclusively controlled by the stylus. The D-pad does a few things, like turn the storybook pages, and allow you to exit out of the mini-games.

Other than that, it is a lot of tappa tappa tappa.

Speaking of the mini-games, here is what you get:

Storybook: Read the Story of Noah’s Ark.

Here you can listen to and read along with the kid-friendly version of Noah’s story. It isn’t too many pages, and each one has a few touch screen actions to allow you to interact with the pictures. You can make rabbits go up and down on a see saw, or try to capsize the ark.

Learning Zone: Practice Spelling and Writing with Noah’s Wife!

This has two sections. One is a spelling bee that is an actual bee and the other is a section where you trace capital letters of the alphabet.

For the former you see a word on the left screen, and move a bee cursor over the letters of that word to spell it.

For the latter, you basically just have to spray paint in the capital letters of the alphabet, while looking at a picture of an animal whose name begins with said letter. It doesn’t really teach you how to form that letter, but it did teach me two animal names: Quoll and Xerus. (Usually, with these things you get Quail and X-ray fish. )

Coloring Book: Color in Noah”Ëœs Animal Friends!

Apparently, Noah only considers four of the animals to be his friends. Anyway, this is the standard paint-bucket coloring book with limited color choices. Any kid website has something like this thing, except usually better.

Musical Animals: Make Music with Noah and his Animal Friends

This section has two mini-games. The first is a dumbed down version of Simon, where you never have to remember a sequence of more than four animals. The second game in this section is the GREATEST THING EVER!

Wait for it. . .

HIPPO PIANO- This hippopotamus’s teeth sound just like a piano!

Truly this is a remarkable moment in gaming history!

You see, you touch the hippos teeth and they make the noises of piano keys.

Man, this game should’ve opened with that! Screw Noah! More Hippo Piano!

Man Hippo Piano is so awesome. This game should have been called The Adventure of Hippo Piano Across the 8th Dimension.

Play Time

This is the catch all section for the rest of the mini-games. The first game is a relatively common mini-game where you catch flying objects in a basket. The second is a “Find Mii” style game where you have to click on the proper animal within a time limit. The Third game is a match game wherein a conveyor belt has three different types of food, and you must drag that food to the plates of the animals who would want to eat those things.

I thought the lion would like to try the seal’s fish, but apparently not.

In the fourth game, you control a whale underneath the ark. By tapping on the whale, he shoots water out of his blowhole forcing the ark into the air and over obstacles.

Wait a goldurn minute. What stake do whales have in all this flood business? This whale owes Noah nothing. He doesn’t get to ride in the boat or nothing.

That’s bogus.

In the final game, you control a dove. You collect olive branches and avoid thunder clouds. It’s the sort of stupidity you would expect from an NES game about Noah made by LJN.

5. Replayability

This game is aimed for little kids. This fact should be obvious in that it wants you to learn how to make capital letters. But even taking that into account, there isn’t a whole lot here that needs revisiting. Being an adult, I did everything there was to do in this game and more in under an hour.

A kid can probably suck a few hours out of this thing, but so what? The quality of the games here is on par with the lesser games on PBSkids.org. The main difference is that PBS Kids has a lot more games and is free.

6. Balance

This is a game for five year olds. It isn’t supposed to be hard. The games are simple enough to play for most little kids. No reading is required.

Some of the games cannot be failed, and others don’t really pay much attention to how well they are played.

7. Originality

The only mini-game here I haven’t played a million times was the whale boat levitation thing. It wasn’t very fun.

Frankly, I don’t know how you can even make a Noah’s Ark game without using the Wolfenstein 3D engine.

This game has neither slingshots nor goats! For shame!

8. Addictiveness

What could be more addictive than reading bible stories?

C’mon people!

There isn’t a bad guy or a villain, though I would nominate God for that role. Because there is no main story to the mini-games, there is no sense of accomplishment for doing well on them. Noah will tell you good job if you do thing halfway decently on some of the mini-games, but it isn’t really satisfying.

There are no points. There is nothing to unlock.

I was hoping to unlock the book of Ecclesiastes based on my virtuoso performances on Hippo Piano.

9. Appeal Factor

Most people know this story. As I understand it, most monotheists have Noah in their holy books. A few weirdos even believe this stuff actually happened exactly like it says in Genesis.

It’s hard to pinpoint the appeal of this game.

I imagine the target audience is the same one as those people that buy those creepy children’s bible story collections that are in the waiting room of my daughter’s Advocate Health center. You know the ones, right? “The sheep says “Ëœbaaaa’ and God tells us we have dominion over the animals.”

10. Miscellaneous

HIPPO PIANO IS THE GREATEST THING EVER! Ever! The hippos teeth work just like a piano!

Except there aren’t any black keys. . .

I guess that makes sense though., because hippos aren’t really known for their sharp teeth.

The Scores
Story: Dreadful
Graphics: Decent
Sound: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay: Mediocre
Replayability: Below Average
Balance: Decent
Originality: Dreadful
Addictiveness: Poor
Appeal Factor: Decent
Miscellaneous: Incredible
FINAL SCORE: MEDIOCRE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary

Noah’s Ark is pretty much your standard, allegedly educational, kiddie game. If you spit at the Vtech aisle at target, you’ll hit eight things just like it. More time should have been taken to focus this game around the Hippo Piano aspects.

You see, because it is a hippo whose teeth are a piano.

Why can’t the hippo be in charge of the ark? That would be totally rad. Isn’t it just as likely as a 600 year old man being the captain?

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