4. Bible Adventures (Wisdom Tree – 1991)

Bible Adventures

When Nintendo ruled the world, there was a little something called the Nintendo Seal of Quality. You knew a game had to be cleared with Nintendo at every step, and everything had to be properly licensed and made with the spirit of Japanese fun and games. Well, all that went out the window when game companies like Wisdom Tree found ways to create unlicensed games that bypassed Nintendo’s 10NES lockout chip.

One such game was the incredibad Bible Adventures.

Look, I was raised Catholic. My Baptist childhood friend had this game. I get it. There’s room in the gaming world for religious fervor and Jesus’ message of peace. And there’s definitely room for a game that lets you throw baby Moses like a football.

I’m totally kidding, you’d never throw a football like that. Not even if you were Christian quarterback wunderkind Tim Tebow.

Really though, what the wholesome, Christ-filled f**k? In this part of the game, you play as Moses’ sister and need to bring Moses to the river in order to send him on his way and set the course of the book of Exodus in motion, of course.

What does this have to do with fatherhood? Basically nothing. Except that Wisdom Tree, a company based on religious values was one of the chief hackers of Nintendo’s lockout chip. Nice Christian values there, Wisdom Tree. You really taught us not to covet thy neighbor’s video game business. The real fatherhood lesson here is to teach my son not to judge a book by its cover, even if that book is the Bible.

All I know is that my son is enrolled in Catholic school, and I’m telling him to keep one eye open during prayers, and if someone touches his lockout chip, to call the police.


5. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (Nintendo – 1987)

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Hailed as one of the best NES games of all time, it’s also one of the most racist. I mean, holy hell with the stereotypes.But the most teachable thing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! had to offer, especially to fatherhood, was the two Ps: perseverance and patterns.

You beat Glass Joe by waiting for him to drop his gloves and then you punch him in the face. That’s all you need to know. As long as you remember that, you’re fine.

When my son gets caught in his t-shirt while trying to put it on (EVERY DAY DUDE), all I have to do is ask him how to beat Glass Joe. A muffled voice from inside the shirt says “wait for him to drop his gloves and punch him in the face.”

King Hippo

Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s a picture of me.

“King Hippo?”

His muffled voice answers, “wait until he laughs, shut his stupid mouth with your fist and then pummel his gut until he dies on the mat.”

“Mike Tyson?”

“Don’t try to predict his moves. Wait for the telegraph and be ready to dodge when he Dynamite Punches. Then hit him with the same hand he swung at you. Wait for his winks and dodge his hooks and wait out the rest of the first round.” He pauses. “Then in round 2, block and dodge his jabs and try to get a quick body blow for a star and use that after a quick jab during his next Dynamite Punch rush. You’re kind of on your own for this.”

“Thanks kid, I’ll be right back,” I say, and leave him struggling inside of his shirt.

Then it’s like you can practically hear the star-punch sound as my son’s head and arms pop through the correct holes and he runs into my office to watch me play Punch-Out!!.

Never give up, kid.

Also and unrelated, did you know that Soda Popinkski was originally named Vodka Drunkenski in the arcade version, but changed for the NES release to make it family-friendly?

I actually learned real-life skills like perseverance, threat-scaling and diplomatic mimicking from NES games. Nowadays kids are so soft with their health packs and cheat codes. Back in my day, you had to have dedication to play games. And that, friends, made me a better father.