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Video Game / Spiritual Warfare

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Spiritual Warfare is one of the games released by Wisdom Tree, a company that specialized in Christian-themed games and was formed as a subsidiary of Color Dreams, a company known for making unlicensed NES games. Like all other Wisdom Tree games for the NES, it focused heavily on a religious theme and Bible trivia- unlike the rest of the Wisdom Tree library, however, it's actually regarded as a competent and even decent game. This may be due to the fact the developer chose to abandon their prior 2D side-scrolling game engine and instead took inspiration from overhead adventure games- primarily The Legend of Zelda.

The game is set somewhere in an unnamed American city upon which Satan himself has set his sights, sending demons to possess much of the populace. You, a lone soldier in God's army, are tasked with stopping this and your only support are angels and the occasional citizen who was not possessed. Your weapon of choice as you gather the six pieces of the Armor of God are holy fruits and vials of God's wrath which can knock the possessed citizens out cold and free them of their demonic parasites. After obtaining the armor, you will make your way to Hell itself and fight Satan directly.

The game saw its primary release on the NES in 1992, and was later ported to the Sega Genesis, Game Boy, and MS-DOS. Up until a few years ago it was still possible to buy the game from Wisdom Tree direct but copies have since run out, with exception of the DOS version (which does not run on modern Windows systems- though by all accounts it was a ROM file running under an outdated DOS emulator anyway). Wisdom Tree does offer the NES version for free play on their website via jNes, if your browser can run it, but it may be far easier to use a proper emulator.

It is now possible to acquire the entire Wisdom Tree collection via Steam, including this game, emulated via DOSBox.


  • Abnormal Ammo: Samson's Jawbone is used as a boomerang to retrieve the raft. You will also throw the sword once you obtain it - as well as all the fruit you throw.
  • All There in the Manual: 95% of the game's plot is on the back of the box and in the manual. The actual game contains so little info on what you're doing that someone who picks it up to play just thinks they're a random man throwing fruit at people.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted- the breast plate cuts damage by half, the helmet protects against dynamite explosions, and the shield cuts damage by another half- combined with the breast plate you will take only 25% of the damage you did at the start of the game- although due to the difficulty spike and extra damage caused by later enemies it may not exactly feel like the armor is doing any good, unless you try these areas without the armor.
  • Artistic License – Religion / Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Let it suffice to say you're not likely to see any Christians actually going around converting people by pelting them with fruit in Real Life; but pelting people with fruit is more fun to portray in a video game than, say, preaching a sermon or having a heart-to-heart chat.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: "Healing hands" is a pause menu item that lets you heal half a heart for 10 spirit points. Unfortunately, you take 1 heart of damage from most enemies, you need those spirit points to buy other things and once you have enough heart containers, a single anointing oil will be far cheaper. Really only useful if you're in dire need and have lots of spirit points to spare.
  • Bad with the Bone: Samson's Jawbone. It's useless as a weapon and can only retrieve items you cannot normally reach (and once you get the Sword of Spirit, it's even useless for that). The Jawbone's only unique purpose is to obtain the Raft.
  • Beef Gate: You're warned not to try heading to the Airport from Downtown before you've found the Breastplate of Righteousness, but if you do so anyway, you'll find the exit is blocked off by a bunch of invincible dudes in purple suits who will very quickly kill you unless you leave the area immediately. Once you've gotten the Breastplate, these guys simply vanish and you're free to move on.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Apple seems to be the lamest fruit on account of its slow speed, but it can also clear out debris just like the Pear, it passes through enemies and can hit several at one time, and its gigantic hitbox means they'll frequently blunder right into one as it's flying by.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: In the hidden "Lost at Sea" area, you can find a locked island containing an Angel who will offer power-ups to completely fill your stock of both Vials and Spirit Points. Which is nice, but both will likely be maxed out already by the time you're able to travel to this island in the first place.
  • Children Are Innocent: Most of the non-hostile people you meet appear to be children.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The final area of the game sends you to Hell, complete with lava all around, but it doesn't affect you in the least- though at that point in the game, you have the full set of God's armor on which may be keeping you from roasting alive. Subverted with the burning rubble piles, trying to walk on these before you get the boots WILL cause damage.
  • Cool Sword: The Sword of the Spirit. It fires off energy swords which explode with the same force as the vials on contact. It can also convert enemies that are immune to fruit.
  • Covers Always Lie: The box art shows you in a full set of silver armor, fighting demons with a sword. In the game, despite collecting said armor, you're always depicted as a man in a t-shirt and red pants.
  • Easy Evangelism: According to the story, you're trekking across the city and using the Word of God to proselytize to the masses. In the actual game, you (somehow) make people kneel and pray by chucking pears at them.
  • Edible Ammunition: Your primary weapon are "fruit of the spirit", fruits blessed to ward off evil. They are thrown, have an unlimited supply and can be bought in multiples to increase the number thrown at a given time.
  • Essence Drop: Hearts and spirit points drop at random from enemies.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: With the exception of a very small number of normal people who give advice, the city is crawling with things that want you dead; gang members, police, prison inmates, Hare Krishnas, dogs, ducks, businessmen, construction workers, bar patrons, gamblers.... justified as they're all possessed by demons.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: The final area of the game takes place there.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The game is not impossible to beat without a guide, but finding certain items may prove difficult without it - especially the torch, an item that helps out in certain puzzle rooms but is not necessary to beat the game. Certain extra fruit purchases can also be hard to find as well as all the extra heart containers- some of which are in places that don't even look like doors.
    • Answering the Bible trivia, provided you're not well-versed in it, will most certainly require an answer sheet to get them right, particularly as you go higher up in the question pool (PROTIP: If an answer is "Jesus", it will be correct 100% of the time, and that's not sarcasm). Even if you are stocked-up on Biblical knowledge, they'll sometimes try to trip you up on minor details, like whether the size of one's faith to move mountains equals a mustard seed or an olive pit.
  • 100% Completion: It is not necessary to get every item; fruit upgrades and certain items can be skipped without causing any problems.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Police officers, surfers, Hare Krishna, body builders, city workers, office workers, all prime hosts for Satan's legion of demons to possess, but somehow they don't seem to have managed to get control of any of the children you meet.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Sword of the Spirit flies quickly, passes through solid walls and objects, makes quick work of demons, and explodes after a set time or when it hits something — which also collects any items in the blast radius. Suffice to say that once you find this bad boy, you're pretty much done slinging fruit at people.
  • Informed Equipment: You will wear the same white shirt and red pants throughout the entire game despite collecting body armor.
  • Literal-Minded: As with the Armor of the Gospel being actual pieces of armor, the "fruits" of the Spirit are actual fruit in this game; both are based on purely figurative passages from the Apostle Paul's letters in the Bible.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • The pear. It's not very strong and has poor range, but you'll still use it even after finding better fruit to toss, because it's the only one you have that can destroy the piles of junk in the slums area.
    • The grapes shoot out at random angles, making them a pointless weapon that can't even be properly aimed. However, once you get more grapes (allowing you to rapid-fire them) or the Sword of the Spirit (which can be fired separately from the fruits), the grapes become one of the most useful weapons.
  • Mini-Game: Bible trivia segments, either a true/false question or multiple choice.
  • More Dakka: Upgrading to 3 or 4 of a fruit allows you to rapid fire them.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Dogs, bears and even bees will try to harm you - none of your weapons take them out (except the bees in the NES version). Your fruit will bounce off and your bombs do nothing. The only option is to run away or dodge them.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: The vial of God's wrath, your bomb item, will blow up obstacles and harm enemies. You, however, are totally immune to the blast- possibly because it's a concentrated container of God's wrath and you're His servant. Finding the helmet also renders you immune to enemy-placed dynamite.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: The church has that covered. Also doubles as a Zelda-style "fairy fountain" where you can get your health refilled for free.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: The apple, though it is powerful and passes through obstacles.
  • Password Save: 32 characters long. Passwords are cross-compatible between the NES and Genesis versions. The MS-DOS version allows actual save files.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Samson's Jawbone. Just like Link's trusty boomerang, it'll always double back and return to you. Unlike Link's boomerang, it lacks offensive capability and can only retrieve items normally out of reach. It's only real use is as a Plot Coupon to obtain the Raft, since the Sword of Spirit you find shortly afterward can also do its job of picking up stuff at a distance.
  • Puzzle Boss: Every boss in the game has some trick to being beaten, either by only being vulnerable during a brief time or the room itself being a puzzle.
  • Scenery Porn: For an 8-bit NES game, some of the graphics, especially the varied areas of the city, are rather well drawn, with every individual area having its own unique tile sets and sprites. Enhanced a bit in the Genesis port which re-drew some sprites to make use of the enhanced range of colors. If not for the simplified black floor in most places, the game could have been quite beautiful.
  • Schmuck Bait: Go ahead, walk into the bar or the casino despite the person near the door telling you not to... the angels will punish you for entering a sinful place such as that and you will have to undergo a side quest to regain items they will take from you.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The game itself to the first Legend of Zelda, from the overhead play style, the layout of the shops and you having to enter the first building on the starting screen to obtain your first weapon.
    • The pomegranate to Metroid's wave beam.
    • On the beaches, a guy tells you that "Everybody's gone surfing."
    • Both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, two guards at the airport recite the "White Zone/Red Zone" routine from Airplane!. Coming from a Christian-themed children's game, this is kind of edgy material, though they never quite get to the less family-friendly parts of that exchange.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Entering the suburbs from the southern woods or vice versa before you've obtained the helmet will trap you between stacks of explosives on both sides of the passage, forcing you into a game over if you don't have enough heart containers to tank the massive damage it'll do to you.
  • Updated Re-release: The Sega Genesis port, about a year after the NES version. It has slightly improved graphics (easy to notice when walking over any colored floor tile- your sprite no longer has the floor showing through "blank" lines), slightly better sound and music, and turns the Genesis' A button into a sprint function, sending your little Christian solder onward like an overcaffeinated squirrel. It's not a VAST improvement, but still... and passwords work between versions so any taken from an NES playthrough will work on the Genesis and vice-versa. The PC release also has all of these improvements.
  • Waiting Puzzle: There's an old woman on the casino strip who quotes a Bible verse about how you should wait patiently if you want what you don't yet have. If you take her advice and stay put for about 15 seconds, a car will pull out and drive off, revealing a hidden shop where you can get a Banana (the all-around best fruit).
  • Warp Whistle: The Railroad Ticket, found inside a cabin within the Woods area. Once obtained, it allows you to instantly travel to five different points across the game world.
  • Weird Currency: Spirit points. Justified as you make all your "purchases" directly from angels, not human shopkeepers. These points are obtained by defeating enemies or by answering Bible trivia correctly.
  • With This Herring: The first Fruit of the Spirit you receive is the pear, which has pitiful range and lacks any special characteristics.
    • However, the pear is very useful for clearing out piles of rubble that the stronger fruits will simply pass through (the apple can do this, too).