Reviewed on PC

JONAH, A VEGGIETALES GAME

Reviewed By: Tim Emmerich
STAFF REVIEWER
GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Big Idea
Price Range: $20
Age level: 5+
ESRB Rating: Everyone
System Requirements: Windows 98/2000/ME/XP
Minimum Requirements:
Pentium II 300 MHz, 64 Meg RAM, 4 Meg VRAM DirectX 8.1 compatible video card, 8x CD-ROM, 60 Meg Hard Drive space for installation, DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card.

Genre: Arcade
Christian Rating: 5 of 5
   (nothing offensive)
Gameplay: 4 of 5
   (good)
Violence: 5 of 5
   (none)
Adult Content: 5 of 5
   (none)

Get ready to set sail on an adventure of Biblical Proportions!

Jonah is an arcade adventure game that will allow you to relive the movie … and the story of Jonah the great prophet. There are a dozen arcade games and the player is rewarded with a scene from the movie after successfully completing two levels of each game. The scenes are in sequential order and until you beat the arcade game, you can't continue on Jonah's journey. Don't worry, the games aren't impossible to defeat, especially on the earlier levels. You can stay and play though and witness the increasing challenge of each game. There are 20 levels per every

Jonah.  Illustration copyrighted.
game. Each of the dozen games is detailed below. After you sign in, you are presented with a map that not only shows your path but your progress as well. Just as in the movie, it starts you out in Joppa. After recruiting "The Pirates That Don't Do Anything", you set to sea and end up in someone's stomach. By design, Jonah does end up at Nineveh. Interspersed throughout are the game milestones. After you've overcome a game, you can re-visit it or any of the previous ones. Finishing the last game gives you a closing sequence from the movie. Then you can go back and try any game along the map's path.
Rated 'Exceptional' by Shepherd Staff Shepherd's Staff rates "Jonah, A VeggieTales Game" as exceptional.

This is a fun compilation and brings good variety to your PC. If you enjoyed the movie, you will more than likely enjoy these games and the cut scenes from the movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, this will be great to whet your appetite until it comes out on video and DVD! Note that this may not greatly challenge older children. The box says for ages 5 and up. But getting through the first two levels can be done by both young and older players (but will be easier for some older players). The real challenge will be to defeat each game through its 20th level. You'll be rewarded with a congratulatory note from Jonah if you do.

A neat feature that you don't see in many games is the parental egg timer. You can set how long you want each child to play per day per child (same amount applied to all children though). It even keeps track if someone quits the game and comes back. Excellent implementation! It also gives a five minute warning which can be useful to give the kids some time to convince the parents for more time.

Also, losing a game is not always bad news. The game will let you try again (and again). However, it can still be frustrating if you were close to winning the level. It is good to know that God AND Big Idea will give you a second chance!

Jonah.  Illustration copyrighted.

Arcade Games:
Special Delivery
You navigate Jonah riding Reginald (his camel) through the streets of Joppa. Your goal is to deliver messages from the Lord that are written on scrolls. You toss one into a tent with an open window by clicking on it. You can speed up or slow down. There are pottery and rolling barrels for obstacles to block your tossed scroll. In the higher levels, carts carrying goods along the road with you become a more challenging obstacle and later sheep do the same. Although the sheep seem to like Reginald and will walk right beside you until you “shake” them. The last complication is the windows and door flaps of the tents will randomly open or close. So, even a well-placed scroll may bounce off and not find its destination if the flap is closed. Also, increasing in levels increases the speed of everything. And more and more obstacles appear in the higher levels.

Crunch Time
It is time to get those lazy pirates motivated! The ship needs to be loaded with supplies for the journey! Even though they said they will take you Tarshish, they are having a hard time getting prepared to sail. How about you motivate them with a Mr. Twisty Cheese Curl snack? As they move across the deck of the ship, toss a curl at them. If you hit them enough times (six times for each of the three pirates) with the tasty snack, they'll finish loading up the boat. The difficulty of the game increases as the pirates vary their speed, hide behind obstacles like crates or even turn around and go the other way. In the higher levels, the ship rats get wind of the food feast and join the pirates. Of course, the rats eat the cheese curl if they catch it. The last complication in the level advancement is a red barrel that rolls towards you. You'll be damaged if it hits you. One useful item to get is the bag of cheese curls that appears randomly. When you hit it with a cheese curl, for a short time you can automatically fire a stream of cheese curls! This is great for getting pirates at the far end of the ship. Again, higher levels mean a more frantic pace for all (and where did all those rats come from?).

A Bumpy Ride
Now you get to navigate the Pirates' ship as they try to leave the harbor. It isn't clear if they've sailed before, and they could use your help. There are lots of obstacles in the harbor such as docks, small boats and crates. The small boats run right to left and can get in your way. There are some special crates that contain cheese curls that you want to pick up by running over them. After picking them up, your ship glows. While glowing, you can run into things without being damaged. This is a timed effect and your ship starts flashing when it is about to wear out. It gets harder by having more obstacles and your ship going faster. Also in later levels, some ships start moving up and down on the screen, parallel with your ship's path. Further, the speed gets to be quite fast. The controls are simply moving your mouse to move the ship (or you can use the keyboard). If you can handle the pressure, travel with your ship higher up on the screen. This will give you more time to respond to a sighting of cheese curls which is a blessing when there are so many obstacles.

Jonah.  Illustration copyrighted.

Pirate's Plank
Once out to sea, the pirates decide to have some fun with that plank! They use it to springboard into the water, aiming for some rubber duck inner tubes floating about. You control how much spring to send the pirates off with. All three pirates participate. They either go into the brink and complain about how cold the water is. Or land happily in the middle of the duckie inner tube and bring it back to the boat. As the levels increase, the numbers of duckies increase as well. Plus the waters are a little rougher and the inner tubes shift around a lot more. By level 20, there will be 20 duckies in the water! You may be saying to yourself "how can I miss?" and that would be true until you start bringing some of the duckies in. Plus, you can always pull the plank down too far and send the pirate off screen, completely missing all the duckies. You can either use the mouse or the keyboard. For better control, you can count the down arrow clicks easier before hitting the space bar to launch the pirate.

Thar She Blows!
I'm sure the pirates were second guessing that life preserver they tossed to Jonah, especially since the whale is now pulling the ship with it! You have to maneuver the ship to avoid the islands. Meanwhile, pick up the floating sporting goods so that you load them into the canon and blast the whale! It is neat to see the whale blow his spout. Smack the whale enough and he will relent and let you go. Around level 10, the number of hits required goes from 5 to 10! In the later levels, it will be going so fast, you'll spend more time concentrating on avoiding the islands than the whale. Plus the whale moves more erratically. If a treasure chest pops up, grab it and you get an extra ship (maximum of four). You'll need those because colliding with an island takes a ship away.

Drop the Ball
About time the pirates got that ruby red Arch Bigaldi bowling ball loaded into the canon to whack that whale! Too bad it had Kahlil in the finger socket! BOOM! "Hang on traveling buddy, I'm on my way" says Kahlil. As you know, the whale grabs the bowling ball and spits out the life preserver. There are lots of obstacles in the belly of a whale though; you have to guide the ball down by rocking the screen, left or right. Getting the whale to lean allows the ball to roll and overcome the obstacles. In higher levels, the obstacles are more severe including treasure chests and giant oysters that will catch your bowling ball and the fling it out. Possibly going in the direction you don't want it to. Also, if the ball falls into a canon, it will shoot it out (sometimes right off the screen which ends that attempt and you have to start over at the top). You have to be fast and careful to beat these higher levels as the screen scrolls quickly upward. Go as fast as you can to get ahead of the scrolling but slow down and make good decisions when you get to a decision path that you are unsure of. Proverbs 3:6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. (New Living Translation)

Second Chance Dance
A matching game will enable the Angels to sing and dance to Jonah during his stay in the belly of the whale, perhaps cheering the old chap up. Across the top of the screen, moving from left to right, are four varying symbols. When they are in the target area on the right side, you need to click on the matching symbol in the diamond guide that has one of each of the four possible symbols. If successful, the Angels will be encouraged to dance. There is a small meter in the bottom right. The dial shows how well you've matched. As long as the needle is in the green when the song ends, you advance to the next level. There are four sets of symbols that you sequence through from level to level. They are colored yellow, blue, green and purple. Around level 6, the symbols start moving faster! It is at this point, you may want to choose to use the keyboard. By pushing the appropriate arrow key matching the direction on the diamond guide, it is the same as moving and clicking. Unless you are lightning fast with the mouse, it will be difficult to keep up. Level 17 is insanely fast and stays fast until the last level. In number 20, the symbols amazingly get moving even faster and you can barely keep up. This becomes a true challenge in matching and reflex skills. I Samuel 18:6 But something happened when the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed Goliath. Women came out from all the towns along the way to celebrate and to cheer for King Saul, and they sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. (New Living Translation)

Jonah.  Illustration copyrighted.

Desert Dodge
Jonah's camel, Reginald, is patiently awaiting Jonah's arrival off the coast of the continent containing Nineveh (what is the safer way to exit a whale?). In this game, Jonah is riding Reginald around in the desert en route to Nineveh. This is a typical side scroller, as Jonah moves to the right, he can jump over obstacles and change speeds. You can control him with either the mouse or the keyboard. The mouse is a little more challenging as you need to move the mouse “up” to jump, but once you get used to it, it isn't too bad. You need to jump over rocks and crevices. There are some critters in your path like the snake, scorpion and cobra. You can jump over them as well or you can have Reginald give them a good splash of Camel Spit.

From the air, buzzards are trying to drop eggs on your head. You can pick up the oil lamp that gives you a temporary umbrella to help protect against this. Don't worry, you get to fire back! At the same time you have Reginald spit, Jonah tosses a cheese curl straight up at the buzzard. If you hit him, he gets flustered and flies away; although they send out many more.

The cobras require two hits to have them disappear. But when they do, they leave a bag of Cheese Curls as a treat. Pick the bag up and you get an extra life. Don't worry about running out of life, you can always click play again. Around level 10, there are lot more buzzards flying around. And the falling eggs start making the sounds of bombs falling. There are more critters and things to jump over and the pace picks up a bit. Level 20 was insanely fast, and the distance required to travel was quite long. In the bottom right is a progress bar showing how close you are to your destination.

Crazy Caves
In this game, Jonah is again riding Reginald. You are looking down on a maze through the mountains at night time. You need to help navigate Jonah through the dark maze. He is equipped with a torch but its light can go out. The torch gets dimmer as time passes or if you step in a puddle that appears and then seeps back into the ground. The effect is the radius of the light circle that Jonah can see decreases. So, if you see a torch, pick it up. You'll get more light to make better decisions about which path to take. Another factor is an hourglass timer. Its sand decreases as go throughout the level … you need to finish before you run out of time. In the maze, you can find an hourglass to pick up, this gives you more time. Run out of time, you get to restart at the beginning.

There is a small critter that may help you. It is a mouse that will run towards the exit down the right path. By level 10, your initial torch is small and the mazes are a bit more challenging. There are fewer hourglasses to come by and more wrong turns to make. So, in the latter levels, you seem to be cutting it close on your available time. As the mazes become more complex mazes, it is easier to waste precious time down a side dead end. At least you always start in the upper left and you know the exit is always in the lower right. The path is what varies.

Cliff Side
In this game, Jonah and Reginald are sliding down the hillside, better known as a cliff. Try to hit ramps and avoid obstacles. The obstacles are bushes and snakes. Soon, boulders are rolling down the cliff after you. Be sure to move right and left to avoid everything. There is no speed up or speed down. You are at the mercy of gravity as Reginald fights to slow his descent down the cliff. If you grab a bag of cheese curls, Reginald can then do a jump. This can be real useful when there is too much in your path and trying to move aside would cause more peril. If you hit an obstacle, it costs you a life. Lose all your life and you get to restart that level. The number of bags you've picked up is shown in the top right although each jump debits you one bag.

Around level 10, the pace picks up quite a bit. At least Reginald's descent is faster. Attribute that to a steeper part of the cliff? There are a few more boulders as well. And the distance to the end is longer. You can monitor that with a guage on the right-hand side of the screen. The last level is insanely difficult. Tons of boulders rolling down the hill and Reginald is going immensely fast. The only hint I can offer is once you've gotten a few bags of cheese curls for jumping ability, stay to either extreme side and use each jump sparingly.

Flying Fish
This maze game has Jonah riding Reginald through the streets of Nineveh in search for the center of town. And those fish-flinging Ninevites are up to no good as usual. They are standing on their houses tossing fishes at Jonah as he rides by. You move Reginald with the mouse or the keyboard. You can press the space bar or left-click to attempt to dodge an incoming fish. As you get whacked by fish, you start to smell like, well, fish. Thankfully, there a few huge water buckets around the city. Once you get doused, you smell fresh again (there is a smell meter in the bottom right). Why is this important? If Jonah gets too smelly, you get the pleasure of starting that level over again. You can also pick up a wooden barrel to wear for protection against the fish assault. It only lasts a short time though. When it flashes in color, you know it is about to disappear.

You are provided with a handy radar instrument. It gives an arrow pointing in the direction of the town center. However, on some maps, this doesn't always help as dead ends in the streets or a large group of buildings block Reginald's most direct path to the town center. So, the radar is pointing "as the buzzard flies." Once you come to a fork in the road though, the radar can help choose a more logical path.

In later levels, the Ninevites toss the fish faster and the city layout (maze) gets crazier with more dead ends. Just a hint, if a map seems too crazy, go ahead and let them defeat you. It appears the maps are randomly generated and so the next one might be easier. While you can use a mouse or keyboard to control Reginald's movements, it seemed easier to use the keyboard.

A Message from the Lord
This game is similar to the old classic, Donkey Kong! Avoid the rolling fish as you run, jump, and climb up to the top of the buildings so that you can declare God's message. After level 5, some other fish get tossed down at you. These fly through the air while the rolling ones stick to their gravity-determined path. The maps get more elaborate with stairs, steps and ladders changing from level to level. Even if you maneuver your way to the top, you need to avoid the two fish-slapping Ninevites there. Since they are the source of the fish, it gets more perilous the higher you get. What happens when you get hit by any manner of fish? You get to restart the level at the bottom of the screen. You start with four lives on each level. The purpose of lives doesn't make much sense here as you have to restart the level any way and if you run out of lives, you can always click on "Play Again."

The key is to grab the bags of cheese curls as this temporarily freezes the fish. You can even run through them when they are frozen. You can also get an extra life by grabbing a pot and catching one of the fish in it. The fish increase in speed somewhat and there are definitely more of them as you go up in levels. The last level is interesting as there are lots of fish moving around everywhere at a rapid pace.

Production Quality
The production quality for this game was very high. The graphics were well done with only minor animation issues in a few games. The movie scenes were degraded a bit but that was due to the compression in order to fit so much on the CD. Good music and sound effects. A nice touch for younger players is the help information for each game is completely narrated by a Veggie Tale character. And helpful pictures representing the game mechanics and objects. That is great for younger ones that can't read yet. The product comes in a professional box that is the new smaller-size format. Within the box, a jewel case houses the CD and color manual.

Where parents will object
It is unlikely that any parent will object. This is a quality game that delivers a good message and is fun for “kids” of ALL ages. None of the games are overly violent. And they represent mostly cartoonish violence.

Conclusion
Jonah is a fun, action packed game that all should consider. With its tremendous variety, many players will enjoy several, if not all, of the games. And they will be rewarded with scenes from the movie. The nature of the games makes it a good choice for the whole family and offer good replay value. Be sure to play it together for a fun family time, taking turns at mastering all twenty levels of each of the twelve games!

Be sure to go online at http://www.jonahmovie.com and play some of the online games. Moby Blaster, Fish Dodge, Cargo bounce, and Thrills 'n Quills are quite fun. You can even send an E-Card or download the movie poster for your desktop.

Year of Release—2002



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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

Review supplied by Christian Spotlight Guide2Games, a ministry of Films for Christ. Copyright © Films for Christ. Spotlight's URL: http://ChristianSpotlight.com E-mail usMailing address: PO Box 1167, Marysville WA 98270-1167, USA • “Christian Spotlight’s Guide to Games” and “Guide2Games” are service marks of Films for Christ.

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