Top 10 Questions Raised by the Super 3D Noah’s Ark Press Release
A little backstory:
Super 3D Noah’s Ark was the only unlicensed video game cartridge ever released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) during its supported life cycle. Ark was created by Wisdom Tree, an unlicensed developer; or, perhaps a little more accurately, the prior unlicensed developer Color Dreams, as re-branded to make Bible-themed carts in order to avoid litigation from Nintendo, thinking big N would fear a public backlash if they went after a family-friendly company.
The tactic worked, for the most part, and many infamous Jesus games were made, some of which were simply reskins of prior Color Dreams titles. For example, Crystal Mines became Exodus, with its plot shifting from having to do with a remote-controlled robot to the Hebrew prophet Moses blasting apart rocks and heathens alike with the Word of God.
Now, 20 years later, an original Wisdom Tree staff member is spearheading a re-release. This means that people can, for $60 plus $7 shipping & handling, order an all-new copy of the box, instruction manual, and cartridge.
How do I know this? Because, as a Nintendo blogger guy, I once reached out to this particular Wisdom Tree staffer (who still runs wisdomtreegames.com) for an interview. She declined politely, but apparently kept me on a select list of recipients for this particular press release, about the return of Super 3D Noah’s Ark.
Which, for me, raises some questions.
1. Why Super 3D Noah’s Ark?
Look, let us be perfectly clear and brutally honest: The Color Dreams games were horrible. Even after a few years of game-development experience under their belt, many would be harsh in their judgement of the later Wisdom Tree games, to say the least. I think some of them are passable; but, overall, it is not a library to be overly proud of.
Which makes me wonder, then, why Noah’s Ark was picked — since it is certainly among the worst of their releases. My guess is that the novelty of being the only unlicensed SNES game has something to do with it, rather than simply re-releasing one of the many NES titles they pushed out. Perhaps the real question, then, is whether uniqueness alone makes this a worthwhile pick for a re-release. Then again, what other game would you pick from that catalog? King of Kings: The Early Years?
2. Why Now?
Even if the whole “retro gaming” concept has become quite chic nowadays, this still feels like an out-of-left-field move from Wisdom Tree. Are they desperate for income as an organization, or flush enough with cash to make this a possibility? Is it purely for the 20-year anniversary? How long have they been sitting on this? I am so curious.
3. Who assisted with the cartridge production?
Check out that photo above. Now look at this photograph, of an original copy of Super 3D Noah’s Ark:
See the difference? The original cartridge was a “lock-on” type, like a Game Genie of the era or the classic Sonic & Knuckles cart for Sega Genesis. But this new re-release sports a legit-looking standard 16-bit Nintendo cartridge. Are donor carts being used, or all-new plastic mold jobs? Does Wisdom Tree have this capability, or are they outsourcing, perhaps to a community member of NintendoAge.com who could shed some light on this?
4. What will happen to the value of the original?
The original Super 3D Noah’s Ark often goes for $100+ on Ebay. Will that value decrease, now that more copies of the same game are available? Or will the value increase, seeing as how the original release does seem different from this new thing? If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that any further remakes/reprints/re-releases/remanufactured copies will have little effect, and any gradual changes in value will just be due to the typical rises and falls of retro game items anyway. The collector’s market can be quite unpredictable, which many weighing factors far beyond the mere matter of another Wisdom Tree reprint.
5. Will anyone purchase the re-release?
I am not planning on it. Just seems a tad overpriced to me. I will be interested to see who disagrees and jumps on this opportunity.
6. Wait, has this already happened once before?
Look, all I’m saying is that you can already find so-called “reprints” on Ebay using the same photo I received in the press release. Wisdom Tree, what are you doing? Is something fishy going on? Have you already tried this “hey look at us we’re totally re-releasing a collector’s item here” idea once before? Or did someone really get a hold of your stash beforehand? Or is this Ebay seller just someone at Wisdom Tree? In which case, isn’t that even more desperate? All I know is that the rabbit trail might run deeper on this case than I care to dig, thank you very much.
7. Who is the target audience?
Is there really a contingent of weird Christian retro gamer-collectors who are foaming at the mouth in excitement for this announcement? Are there truly enough general classic-game collectors who desire this item to merit its appearance? Maybe you have seen the type, the ones with enough disposable income that when any new collectible comes along they can say, “Meh, sure, I don’t have one of those yet,” and buy the darned piece of junk. Is that the target audience?
8. Will this be a collector’s item?
Retro games are only now getting to be old enough for re-releases and the like to really be viable, but the sample size of such events is still too small to make any solid guesses as to their later sought-afterness. For instance, will Battle Kid be as much of a collector’s item in 20 years as Little Samson? When even the “new” releases become retro, what happens? Who will want the second edition of Super 3D Noah’s Ark in decades to come?
9. What does “Remakes of games for SNES” mean?
Seriously, what does this strange phrase near the end of the press release mean? It literally reads like this:
“Coming soon …. Remake of games for SNES, Bible Buffet Quiz Book and more.”
10. Did this really happen?
Getting a press release in my inbox concerning the re-release of a 20-year-old Wisdom Tree was probably among the last things I expected to happen today, and it still feels surreal. Maybe you have to be a special kind of NES dork to even care about this at all, but at the very least, I think we can all agree that something like this was completely unexpected.