A classic of PC gaming- a revolution in game marketing.
Blockbuster game- this was a really good, fun game, that was way ahead of what could be done on consoles. Amazing how far PC action games had progressed in just a couple of years.
I hate how Wolfenstein's success obscured the game's origins in the old Muse Software Castle Wolfenstein series! I'm also not too thrilled with the huge number of rip-offs and clones that flooded the market.
The Bottom Line
Considering my view of Commander Keen (and my similar views for most other PC software from the late 80's/early 90's), I didn't think much of the PC as a gaming platform. Sure, I had fun with the big bloated simulators and adventures around then, but for pure action gaming, I didn't bother.
I started hearing about Wolfenstein 3d, and having been a player of the original 2D games on the Apple ][ and C64, I tried it out at a friend's house. My jaw hit the floor and I hit the keyboard- I didn't come up for air for hours.
Compared with corridor shooters (or FPSes if you will) of today, Wolf seems a little bit dated. Doom really swept the market shortly afterwards, and it's been a steady progression upwards in quality and gameplay since. With the deluge of corridor shooters, though, the gameplay of todays' games just doesn't seem as fresh or as exciting as it did when I first beheld the twisting, turning 3D mazes in Wolfenstein. Since I'd never been pleased with the home adaptations of Atari's arcade game Xybots, this game really made do.
One other thing- Wolfenstein really changed the way software is looked at and dealt with. Shareware was an uncommon sight on the computers I'd used before- it existed, but for the most part, authors either released their works as freeware and public domain or maybe sold copies through small ads in the back of computer magazines. Shareware was more of a force in the PC world, but it was the ugly mutated sibling to real commercial software. You just didn't expect quality, or support in shareware titles. Apogee started out with what comes across today as crummy BASIC-like adventure games- it really is kind of mindboggling to see the progression that occurred in quality over the years.
From the Kroz games, to Captain Comic and Commander Keen, to Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, the games' quality increased exponentially. It also drove from the market (both shareware and standard commercial) substandard software, and changed the face of computer games. Shareware became a legitimate place for large and talented groups of people to release commercial quality games...
by Robert Morgan (1050) on June 1st, 2000