Reviewed on PC

One Nation Under God: Christian Founders

                      Reviewed By: Tim Emmerich

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Inspired Idea
Price Range: $18-$25
Learning curve time: 20 minutes
Age level: 5 and up
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Patches / Upgrades: none
System Requirements: PC: Windows (95, 98, Me, XP, or 2000), 3D graphics card capable of DirectX 7 or later (included)

Genre: Action
Christian Rating: 5+ of 5
   (nothing offensive)
Gameplay: 4 of 5
Violence: 5 of 5
Adult Content: 5 of 5

Rated 'Exceptional' by Shepherd Staff Shepherd's Staff rates “One Nation Under God” as exceptional.

Can one have fun learning history?
Any school-aged youth would respond quickly with a strong “NO” to that question. However, most may be surprised to find they are learning while having fun. Or even clamoring to play this game over others. “Can I play Uncle Sammy” comes a plea from my son and daughter. They are referring to the main character, Uncle Sam, of the game One Nation Under God. And who can blame them. There are many fun elements of One Nation Under God as the player moves Sam through different levels and obstacles in search of keys and stars. Most younger players enjoy sliding on the ice the most. One Nation Under God.  Illustration copyrighted.

You control Uncle Sam as he traverses buildings, stairs and even patriotic drums! Along the walls are paintings of America's Christian founders. Be sure to examine the ones with Gold Frames. Some are either a “Save point” or can activate an “ability.” The ability can be armor, flight, or stealth. These abilities can be made available if you have found the appropriate gold stars. Along with providing a chance to save and heal (back to 100% health), some golden-framed pictures will give lesson information. Perhaps it will share the definition of a term that could come in handy later for a “definition” door.

In order to get through some doors, Uncle Sam will have to answer correctly a fact about the current lesson (see list below). Or some doors will require a certain number of keys. Keys are interspersed throughout. When you have access to a key though, you are presented with a statement regarding the lesson. You must either answer true or false. If you are unsure, be sure to answer false as you can come back to it later. If you answer true and it isn't, the key explodes and damages you. If you answer true and it is, you get the key added to your inventory. Thankfully, you can't destroy true keys and lock yourself out of a door.

Further, some floor sections are uncertain, you must interpret a true statement about the lesson to proceed on them. If you are right, you can stand firmly on that floor. Otherwise, you fall through the floor, taking damage. The graphic of the floor updates after you've confirmed it being true by walking on it. Other floor tiles act like trampolines! Catapulting you upward just by stepping on them. Hint - they are a darker gray than regular floor tiles.

One Nation Under God.  Illustration copyrighted.

There are many obstacles other than puzzles to overcome in your quest to get a key or star. There are fiery darts blasting away, slippery ice patches to slide on, bouncing boots that will squish you like a bug because they are so huge, precarious pits are set about to ensnare your missteps, etc.

Lesson list

  • Before Independence
  • Independence
  • Christianity in Early American Society
  • Christianity of The Founders
  • Christianity in Government
  • Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams
  • John Witherspoon
  • George Washington
  • John Adams
  • James Madison
  • Delegates of New England States
  • Delegates of Middle States
  • Delegates of Southern States
  • The Deist Question

Using the arrows on the keyboard will direct your path. Inspired Idea was ingenuous in providing two control schemes. One is a simple control scheme for younger players or novice gamers. In this scheme, each square is clearly defined. One push on the up arrow moves you one square forwards. Hitting the space bar will leap you two squares in the direction you are facing. The other scheme is more free moving. Tapping the up arrow causes just a few steps from Uncle Sam. Pushing left or right causes a smaller increment, whereas the simplified controls would move you exactly 90 degrees. So, think of the simplified controls as “digital” and the other as "analog". You'll definitely want the easier controls for young players until they become familiar with the analog-type controls.

You can also use the mouse which really helps with camera angles. Now you can look down and see the staircase below by moving the mouse downward. Left click to jump and right click to move. And don't jump on that ice! Actually, you may end up frequently losing 25% of your health as you miss a jump and land in a hole in the floor. Or even just walk off into a pit.

Design Features
The 3D engine was freshly designed. It incorporates somewhat accurate physics representing collisions and gravity well. There is some fun though as being able to slide on ice for as far as the ice stretches. Also, Uncle Sam tends to slide down stairs if he stops on them.

You can use the mouse, the keyboard, or both to control Uncle Sam, whichever you prefer. Plus, some of the controls are configurable.

The game design has some neat things like flying, stealth, armor. Armor is needed to walk down a corridor full of fiery darts. There are too many of them to avoid, so be sure to answer the armor star question. Flying is needed for areas where walking and jumping won't get you there. Finally, stealth is needed to avoid some small zeppelins floating around the room. When they find you unstealthed, they hover over you and open fire. Better move quick and get stealth mode!

For younger players, you can set it so the game reads the text questions to them. It is the computerized voice though and can be hard to understand on certain words. This can set to read every text message or only the ones desired by pressing the “R” key. Currently, there are 5 games/maps and tons of lessons that plug into those games.

While some may critique the quality of the graphics or minor things wrong with the engine, it is important to be fair with any comparisons. This project was done in about 6 months with only two people working on it. With that in consideration, I think most will agree it is an astounding feat of development.

Where can players and parents object?
No where that I am aware of. The little bit of violence of you falling through the ice or getting hit by a fiery dart is more cartoonish than serious.

Give it a try!
Either buy One Nation or at least download the demo and see if you like it. This review can not do the game justice. It is not easy to describe … kind of like a first-person Mario-like platform edutainment title. But, it can be fun. And the player will learn from the experience.

Year of Release—2002

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.

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