|Origin||Pima County, Tucson, Arizona, United States.|
|Consoles||NES, SNES, Game Boy, PC, Mac, Sega Genesis|
|First Game||Bible Adventures|
|Sounds used||Color Dreams|
|Aliases||Color Dreams, Bunch Games|
|Published games by||Color Dreams, Wisdom Tree|
|Related companies||Color Dreams, Bunch Games|
Wisdom Tree is an American manufacturer and distributor of unlicensed Christian Video Games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, PC, Mac, and Sega Genesis, headquartered in unincorporated Pima County, Tucson, Arizona, United States. Wisdom Tree was born from the remnants of Color Dreams, one of the first companies to work around Nintendo's lockout chip technology on the NES.
In the late 1980s, Color Dreams was the largest producer of unlicensed games for the NES but, due to pressure from Nintendo, faced many difficulties getting retailers to stock its games. Although Color Dreams violated no laws in opting out of the Nintendo licensing system with its workaround of Nintendo's lockout chip technology, Nintendo was displeased that it was receiving no revenues from Color Dreams games, and wanted to prevent other companies from following suit. Thus, Nintendo began to threaten to cease selling games to retailers that sold unlicensed NES games. Because retailers could not afford to stop doing business with Nintendo, unlicensed companies were at a disadvantage. Color Dreams thus had great difficulty getting access to the retail market, and decided to work outside of mainstream NES distribution channels. Also, many of their games were reported to have problems getting to run properly, and were criticized for their lack of quality and gameplay.
In 1990, Color Dreams began to consider producing games with biblical themes. At the time, there were few religious video games for console systems. Officials at Color Dreams saw that there was a market for them and that many stores that would be most interested in retailing Christian games (Christian bookstores) were likely not to sell video games at all, and thus not vulnerable to pressure from Nintendo. While many Christian bookstores at the time sold much more than books (they also sold religious movies, Contemporary Christian music, and other goods), such stores did not sell video games. In order to convince these stores to sell religious games, Color Dreams, through its new Wisdom Tree subsidiary (which would live on long after the demise of its parent company) worked hard to promote this new genre of video games. Wisdom Tree sent Christian bookstores 3-foot Bible Adventures displays, as well as VHS cassettes showing gameplay. These promotional videos made the case to Christian bookstores using lines like: "This game promotes bible literacy and teaches children about the bible while they play a fun and exciting Super Mario Bros.-style video game."
Ultimately, these efforts proved successful, and Color Dreams was able to not only to find a new distribution channel for its games, it was also able to launch a new sub-genre of video gaming, which meant that no other companies competed with its new Wisdom Tree label.
Wisdom Tree's titles always had a Christian theme to them, and were often sold in Christian bookstores and the like. Most games attempted to use the medium to tell Bible stories in such a way as to make them interesting to children of the video game era. Interestingly, many of their games were total conversions of titles previously released by Color Dreams, with appropriate changes in theme. A Wisdom Tree product catalog shows screenshots from Joshua & The Battle of Jericho, displaying a side-scrolling game using the Bible Adventures engine. The actual game used the Crystal Mines/Exodus engine.
The company's first release as Wisdom Tree was Bible Adventures, a three-in-one multicart which borrowed many gameplay elements found in the Western Super Mario Bros. 2, applied to three different Bible stories: Noah collecting animals for the Ark, saving Baby Moses from Pharaoh's men, and re-enacting the story of David and Goliath. The game sold 350,000 copies, encouraging the company to continue pursuing this path of making games.
Other Wisdom Tree games included Exodus (a conversion of Color Dreams' old Crystal Mines game, with the story of the Israelites' 40-year desert trek grafted onto it), King of Kings (similar to Bible Adventures, but now featuring three events in the early life of Jesus Christ), and Bible Buffet (a "video board game" with Bible quizzes, with the board done in a similar style to Candy Land). They also released Spiritual Warfare, an action-adventure title similar in style to The Legend of Zelda, albeit with the requisite religious theme (the player, as a foot soldier in the Lord's army, is tasked with saving the souls of the heathen populace). The company also released Genesis and Game Boy ports of some of these games, as well as Bible-reading programs (both King James and NIV versions) for Game Boy.
Their Sunday Funday, a conversion of the Color Dreams game Menace Beach, was the last commercial NES release in the United States. This was another 3-in-1, which also includes Fish Fall (originally an unreleased game called Free Fall), and a karaoke game which has an 8-bit rendition of "The Ride" by 4Him.
Wisdom Tree holds the distinction of having made the only unlicensed game ever commercially released for the American Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Super 3D Noah's Ark. This conversion of Wolfenstein 3D featured the player, as Noah, attempting to quell upset animals on the Ark by flinging sleep-inducing fruit at them. The cartridge shape (the only American SNES cartridge to not use the standard Nintendo-manufactured shell) resembles that of the SNES Game Genie or Sonic & Knuckles on the Sega Genesis, with a pass-through cartridge port at the top; the game requires an "official" Nintendo-licensed cartridge plugged into this pass-through, which allows the game to bypass the SNES' lockout protection and boot up.
The Wisdom Tree game King of Kings was listed as the honorable mention in Gamespy.com's "Seven Christmas Games That Make You Hate Christmas", due to its unentertaining gameplay and the farcical feel of dodging "acid spitting camels."
Current Activities Edit
Wisdom Tree is still somewhat active today, selling religious video games. The company released an all-in-one "TV controller" system featuring seven of their NES games in a single, self-contained unit, a version of the Rumble Station. More recently, they have released Heaven Bound, a more modern 3D game for the PC. These games are produced on 3D Game Studio (e.g., Joseph and Galilee Flyer), using the default models that come with the program.
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