Wolfenstein 3D

aka: Wolf3D, Wolfenstein 3-D, Wolfenstein 3-D Platinum, Wolfenstein 3D: Third Encounter
Moby ID: 306
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Wolfenstein 3D is an episodic first-person shooter and a follow-up to the top-down infiltration game Castle Wolfenstein. The game puts the player in the boots of B.J. Blazkowicz, an allied spy. There are six episodes: the first distributed completely as shareware; the second and the third available after registration; and the three final missions (which happen before the events of the first episode) available in the Nocturnal Missions pack.

In the first episode (Escape from Wolfenstein), B.J. is captured, but overpowers a guard with the help of a concealed knife and manages to get out of his cell. Throughout the next nine levels, the player guides B.J. searching for an escape from Wolfenstein, guarded by Hans Grosse. After returning to Allied territory, B.J. is given the instructions to Operation: Eisenfaust, where he has to stop Dr. Schabbs and his army of mutant prototypes before they are released into the battlefields. The final mission (Die, Führer, Die!) has a simple goal: infiltrate the bunker under the Reichstag, and terminate Hitler (in a robotic suit) himself.

The Nocturnal Missions are focused on the Nazi plans for chemical warfare, and start with Dark Secret, where B.J. hunts for lead researcher Dr. Otto Giftmacher. It's followed by Trail of the Madman, where the goal is capturing the war plans guarded by Gretel Grosse, and the final episode Confrontation, where B.J. meets General Fettgesicht, the planner for the chemical assault.

Each episode has nine levels (eight regular and a final boss level), plus a secret level activated by a hidden switch somewhere in the eight first levels. Regular levels often feature a maze-like appearance or large areas with many enemies (the number of them on each area depends on the difficulty level), where the player must reach the exit elevator. To do so, he must kill the enemies (while it's possible to move behind the guards' backs and even there's a slight bonus in attacking them from behind, most enemies have to be dealt with by firepower), and depending on the level, activate "push walls" and/or get silver and golden keys to open certain doors.

Many objects can be found in a level, from medikits, chicken meals, and even dog food (to restore health), ammo, and treasures, which solely exist for points. There are four weapons (knife, pistol, machine gun, and Gatling), all of them using the same bullets except the knife. The knife and the pistol are given at the start of the level, while the machine gun is either found (usually in secret areas) or picked up from SS troopers, and the Gatling is always dropped somewhere in the level. There are five kinds of enemies (excluding bosses) - Dogs (fast, but more a nuisance than life-threatening), Army Soldiers (dressed in a regular brown outfit, not very powerful but usually found in large groups), Officers (dressed in white, armed with a very accurate pistol and tough to kill), SS Troopers (blue attire, armed with a machine gun and tough to kill), and Mutants (the rarest and toughest of regular enemies, pale-skinned troopers with green clothes and a machine gun stuck in their chest).

The player character has a number of lives; once he loses the last life, the game ends. To win extra lives, the player has to either find the 1-up item in the level or get 20,000 points (by killing enemies and capturing treasures or completing a level below the 'par' time while killing all enemies, finding all secrets by pushing walls, and collecting all treasure points).

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Credits (DOS version)

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 80% (based on 34 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 308 ratings with 18 reviews)

Life is so fine with that sweet chaingun o' mine...

The Good
This was it...the first ever FPS (first person shooter) I laid my eyes and hands on. This was also the one that started the FPS frenzy I now have. You could probably easily imagine it: here I was, with nothing but an old 386sx/20 Mhz IBM PS/2, equipped with one of the first-generation Sound Blaster cards, and here was a game that not only ran so smoothly that I couldn't believe it, but it pushed my hardware to its limits (and that's saying a LOT for back in 1992) and delivered everything that makes an awesome game...well, AWESOME.

But what was it that made Wolf3D such a joy to play? Well, like most other early FPS games, since the hardware was limited, the game couldn't be overly complex. But that's not just it. It's about the theme of this game. Being an escaped POW caught in the middle of the Nazi regime in World War II and getting to pay them back with a shower of bullets to the chest was just too sweet. I mean, what other game lets you actually kill Adolf Hitler and watch him collapse into a pile of bloody giblets? Wolf3D delivers that experience in its purest form: raw action. You run through Nazi strongholds, blasting anything that dares shoot you, and get that sweet sensation that you did your part to stop one of the most feared armies in history. Gameplay in Wolf3D really is simple: you can grab better weapons that just your simple pistol, solve a couple of small puzzles, and eventually blow away a huge Boss at the end of every episode. Four buttons to remember: fire, action, run, and strafe, plus your directions. That's it. The best part was its native support for the 4-button Gravis Gamepad, so if you had one of those, the controls became perfect and easy to use.

For the time that this was written, the graphics looked pretty damn good. Granted, now they would look like a joke, but back then a smooth-scrolling 256-color VGA game that was also 3D was a big, big thing. The sounds and music were also very well done. To make the environment feel more authentic, id made all of the dialogue German, and it gives me the chills sometimes when I'm walking through an empty hallway and a guard suddenly yells out "ACHTUNG!" behind my back. The music was also very good. Robert Prince's pieces fit in very well with the action, and most of the music was very "hummable", meaning you would still hear it in your head long after you stopped playing. Hell, 10 years later, I STILL hear some of that music in my head!

The Bad
Wolf3D unfortunately doesn't run under Windows, and no one has ever ported the original game to Windows yet. However, there are TCs for DOOM II and Duke Nukem 3D that will bring you all the Wolf3D action with better engines.

The Bottom Line
Wolf3D, even 10 years later, still remains one of my favorite games ever. Although the game was remade (or is that given a sequel?) today as Return to Castle Wolfenstein, nothing will ever beat the original for its sheer action factor.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to blast a few more Nazi soldiers. Quoth the title of Episode 3, "Die, Fuhrer! Die!" ^_^

DOS · by Satoshi Kunsai (2020) · 2002

Eat it Adolf!

The Good
A revolution in gameplay and graphics, there really isn't much I can add to what everybody already knows about Wolf 3D. It is a fantastic action classic that grounded the rules and spawned the most popular pc gaming genre ever. Not bad for a little shareware game, huh?

The storyline is inconsequential, just shoot your way through more Nazis than you can shake a stick at, and get to that fabled elevator to take you to freedom! (well, the next level actually) Your help? 4 weapons and tons of ammo! Go get some!!!

Ultraviolent (well, for it's time), action-packed, with a graphics engine that was da bomb, and incredible music and sfx (achtung!!) Wolf set the foundations for what we all know and love nowadays. Now get down on your knees and show some respect!!

The Bad
Well as much a revolution as it caused, it still couldn't shake off some arcadey details that I really didn't enjoy at it's time. You had "lives", you had point-scoring items, etc, etc. And I really, REALLY hate mazes, of which Wolf 3D has more than enough.

The Bottom Line
There are no ways to describe what Wolf was and is to the gaming industry, people were disgusted (shooting nazis=good, shooting dogs=Eeew!!), people were getting motion sickness, people were losing sleep because of it, etc. etc. It changed everything!!! But above all Wolf proved that the pc was more than competent when it came to handling fast paced action games, delivering even more excitement than a console or any other platform had ever done. Now lock and load pal, it's butt-kicking time.

DOS · by Zovni (10504) · 2002

Fantastic 3D shooter.. that wasn't really 3D :)

The Good
Wolfenstein 3D is a classic in the greatest sense.

It pushed the limits of a 8088/286 to its max, all while delivering great gameplay and a fun time.

The graphics for the time were fantastic, and for those of us lucky enough to have a stereo sound card (and a good pair of headphones), the sounds of opening doors in the distance was just enough to get your heart racing.

Control was simple. Arrows to move and 2 keys for firing and opening doors.



The Bad
There wasn't a lot that I didn't like about the game. I found it was pretty solid in all areas... even the map layout were pretty cool.

The Bottom Line
The original 3D shooter. If you can find it (or download TC's for Domm II or Duke Nukem), grab it and play!

DOS · by Chris Martin (1155) · 2006

[ View all 18 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Something strange Victor Vance (18136) Jan 25, 2021
My review Katakis | カタキス (43087) Mar 7, 2015
Apple IIgs? Andy Voss (1861) Oct 31, 2007

Trivia

Apple IIgs port

The game has been 'officially' ported by Eric Shepherd (SheppyWare), Bill Heineman (Logicware, Inc.) with art and sound by Ninjaforce for the Apple IIGS computer as freeware in 1998. It requires System 6.0.1 or later, at least 4MB of memory and a hard drive to play. An Accelerator card is recommended and it is controlled by the keyboard and mouse.

Aardwolf

Those who cheat and use the sprite browser would find a sprite of a sign saying: "Call Apogee and say Aardwolf". Here is an explanation by Apogee's Joe Siegler from the Apogee FAQ:

"Call Apogee and say Aardwolf." It's a sign that to this day is something that I get asked about a lot. This is a sign that appears on a wall in a particularly nasty maze in Episode 2 Level 8 of Wolfenstein 3D. The sign was to be the goal in a contest Apogee was going to have, but almost immediately after the game's release, a large amount of cheat and mapping programs were released. With these programs running around, we felt that it would have been unfair to have the contest and award a prize. The sign was still left in the game, but in hindsight, probably should have been taken out. To this day, Apogee gets letters and phone calls and asking what Aardwolf is, frequently with the question, "Has anyone seen this yet?"

Also, in a somewhat related issue, letters were shown after the highest score in the score table in some revisions of the game. These letters were to be part of another contest that got scrapped before it got started, where we were going to have people call in with their scores and tell us the code; we'd then be able to verify their score. However, with the cheat programs out there this got scrapped too.

Basically, "Aardwolf" and the letters mean nothing now. Also note that if you found the Aardwolf sign in the game (without cheating), there's a VERY strong chance that you're stuck in there. The only way out may be to restart, or load a saved game from before you went into that maze.

Blood

If you ever find yourself stuck with less than 4% life, just "drink" the puddles of blood found in certain stages and your life should be back to a whopping 4% right away. And as a bonus you get a slurping-the-last-soda-with-a-straw sound effect! :)

Bonus level

Forget Easter Eggs that reveal the authors' names or a built-in flying simulator. Wolfenstein 3D does it best!

One level inside the commercial (not shareware) version of the game finds you nosing around a seemingly endless maze of walls and turns and dead ends. Searching for secret doors in this labyrinth proved a tedious but rewarding effort, as soon one opened up and an exit was found. The next level--Pac Man! Yes, you run around grabbing gold goblets while being chased by floating and invincible ghosts. One day I'll have to pull out the old saved games files and see if I still have a saved Pac Man level game on disk. This level made this game even more fun to play that it already was. A hard task, even for one already addicted!

Cheat codes

For quite some time, Apogee distributed a v1.4 of Wolfenstein 3D without the cheat codes. If you try the cheat codes, and they don't work, you have a "cheat codeless" version of Wolfenstein 3D. In that case, contact customer support about a replacement.

Cover Art

The cover art was painted by Julie Bell and is entitled "A War Hero".

Development

It took John Romero and Tom Hall a lot of effort to convince engine programmer John Carmack to include secret doors in the walls. He initially found it an inelegant solution for an unnecessary problem, but eventually gave in.

DOSBox controversy

The Steam download version of the game is listed as Windows 2000/XP/Vista platform because the executables are modified to use a DOSBox variant (v 0.70); additionally the traditional setup.exe is missing.

It is confirmed that neither Valve or id Software contacted the DOSBox project staff and initially the game didn't includes the TXT files that must be present under the GPL license (so they failed to fulfill 2 points of the GPL license).

Two days after the launch, there was an update that includes COPYING, AUTHORS and THANKS.txt of the DOSBox 0.71.

German banning

On January 29, 1994, Wolfenstein 3D, with the exception of the GBA version, was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. The English GBA version followed November 29, 2003.

For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games.

Wolfenstein 3D is violating §86a of Germany's penal code (for using characteristics of unconstitutional organizations), therefore it is illegal to produce, distribute, import, export and use it in the public. This does not mean it is illegal to just own the game.

Despite this fact, the game's German distributor made this game available in Germany in January 1994 (that's why the game was put on the Index in the first place), so the reaction was a nationwide confiscation, which became effective January 25, 1994 (and statute-barred on January 25, 2004).

But this does not mean that the game can now legally be sold (and therefore actually be bought), because it still violates the already mentioned §86a.

By the way, the charge for violating this paragraph is either a fine or a prison sentence of up to 3 years; and the distributor, who was responsible for all this (and the resulting common misconception) had to face one of these two. However, according to the Apogee Faq site, the name of the game was changed by fans to "Hundefelsen 4C", allowing them to play and distribute the game around Germany.

Inaccuracies

Although Wolfenstein 3D takes place during World War 2, the enemy soldier getting knocked down by B.J. Blazkowicz on the box cover of the game, is carrying an M16. That weapon didn't exist until 1960.

Merchandise

Apogee were selling a Wolfenstein 3D T-Shirt in their product catalog. A grey shirt showing our hero, B.J. Blazkowicz on front with Id Software and Apogee logos at the back, along with B.J's slogan - "Whatever the question lead is the answer". Now worth considerably more than asking price of US$13.95!

Morse code

Taken from the "WOLFENSTEIN-3D and SPEAR of DESTINY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS by Adam Williamson":

WHAT IS THAT MORSE CODE MESSAGE IN WOLFENSTEIN?

In Episodes 3 & 6 of the registered version the music seems to include a Morse code beeping in the background.

I have scooped the following from UseNet's comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (I don't know the originator, you know who you are)

Here it is:

TO BIG BAD WOLF DE ["de" means "from" in amateur radio Morse code jargon] LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD ELIMINATE HITLER IMPERATIVE COMPLETE MISSION WITHIN 24 HOURS OUT

Predecessors

It's not widely known, but this game is actually a remake of an old classic top-down maze game for the C-64, Apple, and other early platforms called Castle Wolfenstein. Unfortunately, they took out many of the interactive elements that made the classic version so fun - such as the ability to hold the Nazi's at gunpoint and rob them. (or, better, hold them up with an empty gun, steal their ammo, and THEN shoot them)

Actually, many elements of the original Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein games (such as silent attacks, dragging dead bodies, changing uniforms, etc.) were completely programmed into Wolfenstein 3D, but the decision was made to cut them out in the interest of simplifying gameplay.

Ratings

Although re-releases of the DOS version received a Mature (Descriptors: Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence) ESRB rating, id Software originally voluntarily rated the game "PC-13 - Profound Carnage" in the opening screens.

References

  • If you press [B] [A] [T] all at once, you'll get a message asking why you're trying to cheat, since this is the old Keen Galaxy cheat code.
  • The manual lists John Romero ( of Daikatana fame) as being the best Wolfenstein player in the world
  • The protagonist of the game is Commander Keen's grandfather.
  • The collective title of episodes #4-6 ("Nocturnal Missions") is actually a slightly naughty joke. (Get it?)
  • If you finally shoot the boss in the 6th episode, he will say "Rosenknospe" before he falls. This is the German word for "rosebud", the famous last word of Charles Foster Kane, played by Orson Wells, in the movie classic Citizen Kane. According to John Romero this was Tom Hall's idea.

References to the game

Sandra Bullock is playing Wolfenstein 3D on a Macintosh computer in the movie The Net (1995).

Releases

  • The FULL version of Wolfenstein 3D was included on the February 2002 Game Disk from PCGamer Magazine. Hopefully other companies will do the same :)
  • At 14-10-1996 id Software released the source code. You can download it from id´s FTP
  • The back of the box on the Activision re-release said "available for the first time for Windows 95". There was no native Windows 95 version of the game, just a Windows program group with shortcuts for the original DOS version.
  • Spear of Destiny was released as a free update to the iPhone version of Wolfenstein 3D on October 28, 2009.

Soundtrack

  • The Adlib title-tune of this game is a Nazi-hym, the so called "Horst-Wessel-Lied".
  • The Game Boy Advance version of the game does not have any kind of music in it.
  • The 3DO release contains new, CD-quality music tracks exclusive to that version.

Speedrun

According to the official hint book, the record time for finishing Episode One is 5 minutes, 20 seconds.

Success

One set of survey results showed that more copies of Wolfenstein 3D shareware were installed onto computers than MS-DOS (there were several different types of DOS at the time of the survey)

Title

There were many alternate titles for the game, some of which were simply joke titles and not seriously considered. The hint book lists these titles:

Castle Ochtenstein, Luger's Run, The Fourth Reich, Adolph's Bane, Hard Cell, Luger Me Now, Tank You Very Much, Castle Hasselhoff, How Do You Duseldorf?, Castle Verlassen (to abandon the castle), Sturmwind (stormwind), Hollehammer (hell hammer; this name made it in to the game as the name of the castle in episode two), Shattensendener (shadowsender), Geruchschlect (bad smell), Dolchteufel (devil dagger), Grabgrabbener (gravedigger), Eisenschwert (iron sword), Dammerung (twilight/dawn).

User created content

The proliferation of editing tools for Wolfenstein 3D makes it into the father of game modding. Redone sets of levels and graphics were wildly popular on BBSes of the day (ah, the memories), and definitely set the stage for the modding madness that would come in the wake of Doom. Amusingly, late in the game (1994, IIRC) Apogee actually announced that they were going to try to prosecute modders under the usual copyright\trademark laws. Nothing actually came of this, but the fan uproar was so loud that it caused id to announce (well before its release) that DOOM would be free and open for modders to edit if they could figure out how.

For those of us who LOVE the game, but our computers are way too fast to play them, Laz Rojas has meticulously recreated the Original Game to run as a DOOM II total conversion. Along with the Original Missions, Laz has created his own original missions (i.e. maps and graphics) based on Wolfenstein 3D's characters. Check it out at the Links/Searches Page.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
  • October 1993 (Issue #111) – Action Game of the Year
  • November 1996 (15th Anniversary Issue) - #97 overall among the “150 Best Games of All Time”
  • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #2 Top Sleeper Of All Time
  • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #11 Most Memorable Game Villain (Adolf Hitler)

  • FLUX

  • Issue #4 - #44 on the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list

  • Compute! Magazine

  • Issue #147 - included on "The Top 25" list for 1992

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Andrew Hartnett, Big John WV, BurningStickMan, Chris Martin, Daedolon, DarkDante, Garcia, glidefan, irelandgamer94, John David Karlgren, Kabushi, Kalirion, Kartanym, Mickey Gabel, NGC 5194, Parf, PCGamer77, Riamus, Roger Wilco, Sciere, Spartan 234, Steve ., WizardX, Xantheus, xcom1602, Xoleras and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andy Voss.

Browser added by Rola. PlayStation 3 added by Chungy Nexen. Xbox 360 added by karttu. Xbox One added by Kennyannydenny. Game Boy Advance added by Kartanym. Macintosh added by Foxhack. Acorn 32-bit added by Kabushi. PC-98, iPhone added by Terok Nor. Windows added by DarkDante. iPad added by me3D31337.

Additional contributors: Terok Nor, bassaf, Chris Martin, Xantheous, Brolin Empey, Frenkel, retinadesgastada, Sciere, Maw, Havoc Crow, formercontrib, Rola, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, MrFlibble.

Game added October 7, 1999. Last modified June 4, 2024.