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Lo Wang has been working as a Shadow Warrior (a bodyguard and mercenary of sorts) for the powerful Zilla Corporation for years. But when he discovered the evil Zilla's plan to summon monsters from other dimensions and conquer the world, he left in disgust. Realizing that Lo Wang might jeopardize his plans, Zilla sends his assassins after him.

Shadow Warrior is a first-person shooter similar in style and gameplay to Duke Nukem 3D. The game set in a generic "Asialand", which looks like China and Japan conflated together. It features deliberately immature and politically incorrect humor, as well as a protagonist who delivers regular one-liners, commenting upon the situation at hand. Much of the humor is derived from over-the-top, stereotypical portrayals of Asian culture (e.g. scantily clad young women drawn in Japanese anime style).

The player has to complete several levels, fighting enemies and occasionally solving puzzles on the way. Though the game primarily focuses on exploration and combat, puzzle-solving plays a larger role than in most other contemporary shooters. There are also a few sequences that allow the player to drive vehicles, some of which have mounted weapons. Like Duke Nukem 3D, the game's environments are interactive, allowing the player to manipulate or destroy scenery and many objects, often revealing secret areas. On a technical side, the game introduces climbable ladders, true room-over-room situations, and voxels (instead of sprites) for weapons and inventory items.

Enemies include evil ninjas with various weapons, "coolies" which carry a crate of dynamite and blow themselves up when near the player character, female assassins with crossbows, and many more. To combat them, Lo Wang can use a variety of weapons and items. Weapons include: Lo Wang's fists, a katana, shuriken, a riot gun, an Uzi (two of which can be equipped and used at a time), a rocket launcher firing heat-seeking or nuclear missile, a grenade launcher, sticky bombs, a railgun, and even some enemy body parts. Many of these weapons have a secondary firing mode. Lo Wang can also find and use gadgets such as caltrops to leave in the enemies' way, or gas bombs to choke foes who happen to be near it.


Shadow Warrior DOS Jesus Christ!!!
Shadow Warrior Windows Title screen (320x200)
Shadow Warrior DOS 3Dfx version - transparency effect when using the Smoke Bomb.
Shadow Warrior DOS Found a secret area--and a fortune cookie

Promo Images

Shadow Warrior Screenshot
Shadow Warrior Screenshot
Shadow Warrior Screenshot
Shadow Warrior Screenshot Screenshot published on 1996-07-12


Alternate Titles

  • "SW" -- Common abbreviation
  • "Shadow Warrior Classic" -- Windows Steam title
  • "Shadow Warrior 3D" -- Working title
  • "Ninja Master" -- Working title
  • "Lo Wang is Shadow Warrior" -- Tag-lined title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Good game, but the boat had already sailed DOS Maw (884)
Wang Bang! A surprisingly fun game despite outdated technology. DOS Trixter (9115)
Lo Wang is not the best FPS character around these days DOS Katakis | カタキス (42836)
Who wanted some wang? (The japanese Duke Nukem) DOS Depth Lord (1003)
Do not play this game. DOS Mr. Hapton (14)

Critic Reviews

GamePro (US) DOS Nov, 1997 4.5 out of 5 90
The Retro Spirit DOS Dec 07, 2007 5 out of 6 83
PC Jeux DOS Jun, 1997 83 out of 100 83
PC Jeux DOS Oct, 1997 82 out of 100 82
Adrenaline Vault, The (AVault) DOS Sep 08, 1997 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Just Games Retro DOS Dec 28, 2007 3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars 70
MacNN Macintosh 1998 3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars 70
Power Play DOS Jun, 1997 67 out of 100 67
Génération 4 DOS Oct, 1997 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 67
App Spy iPhone Jan 03, 2013 3 out of 5 60


Topic # Posts Last Post
Intro & Cutscenes? 15 Unicorn Lynx (181445)
May 09, 2010



In Great Britain this game was partially censored: they took out the ninja star weapon (shuriken) and reduced the gore levels.

Cut content

In the Master's Dojo, there is a picture of four Hentai girls (naked anime women) but only three of them can be found throughout the level. The graphics of the missing girl are still in the data files where she can be seen plunging a sword into her belly (presumably at the feet of her dead master).

Development history

Shadow Warrior was in development way before Duke Nukem 3D hit the store shelves, but as evidenced by pre-Duke ads it originally was a much more "serious" game. Duke's success as a politically-incorrect, off-the-wall shooter prompted a re-focusing of the game's content. So Lo Wang was created (originally the main character was an avenging angel kind of character), the story and levels were rewritten, and the weapons were modified (originally you had one Uzi, and threw only one shuriken, plus your arsenal included a crossbow, a lightning-throwing gauntlet, and an assortment of spells.

German index

On August 30, 1997, Shadow Warrior was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. 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.

Graphics engine

Shadow Warrior uses the same Build engine as Duke Nukem 3D, but has some additional enhancements over that version, like transparent water, colored lighting, and reflective floors.


As an example of the game's subversive humour, the main character's name is Lo Wang. Wang is actually a slang term meaning penis. Consider the possibilities when Lo Wang says to a bunch of geishas "so, you want to wash Wang or you want to watch Wang wash Wang?" Also at one point in the game it is mentioned that Lo Wang has a brother, Hung Lo, continuing the same style of humor.


There were two novels based on Shadow Warrior. You Only Die Twice by Ryan Hughes, and For Dead Eyes Only by Dean Wesley Smith. Both were published by Pocket Books.


In the Seppuku Station level, head to the snack area (enter into the station via the door that has to be opened with the gold key, go down the luggage chute directly across from the door, and head into the conveyor on the left immediately exiting the first chute). Look at the little fliers all over the column in the room, and you'll see one of Lina Inverse of Slayers.

References to other games

    In one level, Lo Wang comes across a female character chained to the wall that bears a striking resemblance to Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider series. He utters, "I guess she raid her last tomb!"
  • In the Bath House stage (level 12), you're treated to a nice display of explosions just before the level starts. Lo Wang makes a comment when they end about how it looks like something Duke Nukem would do.

Source code

On April 1, 2005, 3D Realms released the full source code, based on the 1.2 version, under a restrictive GPL license. The data files can be used for entertainment and education purposes, but they remain licensed/copyrighted and are not to be redistributed. There is no official support, but the company has opened a new dev forum on their website.


Shadow Warrior has a feature that wasn't present in any of the other Build games, it supports voxels. Voxels are kind of like 3D pixels (i.e., cubes), and 3D objects constructed out of voxels don't have the ugly, blocky look that polygons give them. Ken Silverman finished a rudimentary voxel engine just in time for Shadow Warrior, and it was added to the game. You can enable voxels in the options menu, and it makes all game objects 3D at the expense of a lot of memory.

Wanton Destruction add-on

Soon after the release of the game, an add-on pack by the name of Wanton Destruction was announced, but ultimately cancelled. In September 2005, Anthony Campiti, from the Sunstorm company, which was developing the expansion, found the code back and passed it on to 3D Realms. Owners of the original v1.2 registered version can now download it for free. It contains 12 new missions and 4 multiplayer maps. The more in depth story about this can be read here.

Despite their note, it is possible to play the add-on with JonoF's Win32/Linux port without having the original DOS version installed. Either run the setup, and search for a WT.GRP file on your hard drive (it'll be in a temp folder), or use an archive program to extract the file from the setup EXE without running it. Nevertheless, 3D Realms offered a token of good faith by reducing the price of the original game to $10.

Information also contributed by Andy Voss, ClydeFrog, Maw, Satoshi Kunsai, Sciere, Tomer Gabel, Xoleras, and Zovni

Related Web Sites

  • Crap Shoot (A humorous review on PC Gamer)
  • IGCD Internet Game Cars Database (Game page on IGCD, a database that tries to archive vehicles found in video games.)
  • JonoF's Shadow Warrior Port (A port using Shadow Warrior's source code that adds native Windows and Linux port using a Build engine port, OpenGL rendering support and True-colour textures support. )
  • RTCM (The largest Build Game resource website! )
  • Shadow Warrior (official game page at the 3D Realms website from late 1996, preserved by the Wayback Machine)
  • Shadow Warrior Central (Keeping Shadow Warrior Alive Since 1999! A Shadow Warrior resource website. )
  • Shadow Warrior - Coming from 3D Realms (game development page at the Apogee/3D Realms website, snapshot preserved by the Wayback Machine)
  • Wang's Dojo (One of the most comprehensive Shadow Warrior sites available. Has many Total Conversions (TC's), files, patches, demos, screenshots, tricks, cheats, latest info about the "Shadow Warrior Scene" and tons more!)
Contributed to by Trixter (9115), lights out party (59792), Scaryfun (17977) and me3D31337 (62274)
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