Super 3D Noah's Ark is an Christian-themed video game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and MS-DOS. It was developed by the biblical video game producer Wisdom Tree and released in 1994. It was the only commercially released SNES game in the U.S. that was not officially sanctioned by Nintendo. Despite its name, it is unrelated to Konami's official Noah's Ark for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game plays similarly to Wolfenstein 3D, but the graphics were changed to reflect a non-violent theme. Instead of killing Nazi soldiers in a castle, the player takes the part of Noah, wandering the Ark, using a slingshot to shoot sleep-inducing food at angry attacking animals, mostly goats, in order to render them unconscious. The animals behave differently: goats, the most common enemy, will only kick Noah, while the other animals such as sheep, ostriches, antelopes and oxen will shoot spittle at him from a distance. Goats are also unable to open doors, which the other animals can do.
The gameplay is aimed at younger children. Noah's Ark includes secret passages, food, weapons and extra lives. There are secret levels, and shortcut levels as well. The player eventually comes across larger and more powerful slingshots, and flings coconuts and watermelon at the larger boss-like animals, such as Ernie the Elephant and Carl the Camel.
The game that would eventually become Super 3D Noah's Ark was originally conceived as a licensed game based on the movie Hellraiser, a movie that Wisdom Tree founder Dan Lawton was a great fan of. Wisdom Tree acquired the game rights to Hellraiser for $50,000, along with a license to use the Wolfenstein 3D game engine from id Software, believing that the fast, violent action of Wolfenstein would be a good match for the mood of the film. Development initially began on the Nintendo Entertainment System, with Wisdom Tree intending to ship the game on a special cartridge that came equipped with a co-processor that could increase the system's RAM and processing speed several times over.
Eventually the Hellraiser game concept was abandoned due to several issues: the hardware of the NES was found unsuitable because of its low color palette and the addition of a co-processor would have made the cartridge far too expensive for consumers. By the time the first prototype was finished, Doom had already been released, so developing for the NES was considered a lost cause. In addition, the management at Wisdom Tree decided that developing and publishing a horror-themed game would clash with their religious, family-friendly image. With these factors in mind, Wisdom Tree decided to let their Hellraiser license expire, transfer development to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and redesign the game with a Christian theme, eventually coming up with a game about Noah's Ark.
As the game was not officially sanctioned by Nintendo, Wisdom Tree devised a pass-through system similar to the Game Genie to bypass the system's copy protection, where the player had to insert an officially licensed SNES game into the cartridge slot on top of the Super 3D Noah's Ark cartridge.
According to rumours, id Software, angered with Nintendo of America's censorship in the SNES version of Wolfenstein 3D, gave the source code for that game to Wisdom Tree as a type of revenge for the company to make an unofficial clone to mock them. In fact, Wisdom Tree purchased the license to the engine themselves from id Software, who considered Wisdom Tree just another licensor for their technology. The game was not a commercial success and is considered a clone of Wolfenstein 3D. It was most commonly sold in Christian bookstores.
In January 2014, the game was re-released for the SNES, initially available only by private email orders, but later through Piko Interactive's website. The game was also updated for the 20th Anniversary Edition and released on itch.io on May 26, 2014 for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. These modern PC re-releases are based on the ECWolf game engine, a derivative of Wolfenstein 3D and ZDoom. On June 23, 2015 this version was released in digital distribution on Steam.
In October 2015, a community reconstructed source code variant became available on bitbucket.