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Wolfenstein 3D and Its Many Incarnations

Updated on October 24, 2010

Wolfenstein 3D, which originally came out on DOS, is one of the first of the first person shooters, and certainly one of the most popular of the early ones. It was somewhat based on another game, Castle Wolfenstein, which was really nothing like it. Like any classic, it has spawned a few sequels over the years.

The storyline is pretty simple: You're a sweaty (probably hairy) soldier named William "B.J." Blazkowicz who's been captured by the Nazi's during World War II. The gameplay starts off in your cell with the door open, a dead guard nearby and a gun in your hand. From here, you have to navigate the seemingly endless, maze-like halls of the Nazi hideout, taking down enemy soldiers as you go and, eventually, Hitler himself.

These days, this gameplay and graphics seem quite basic and unimpressive, but for its time it was quite an achievement and it hasn't lost its addictive value even today. In fact, this game has been ported many, many times, onto so many different consoles. Something about it is just timeless.

Let's take a look at some of the platforms for which Wolfenstein 3D is or has been available:

The PC

It first came out on the PC and ran on DOS. It was quite a time-vampire back then when you felt like procrastinating, I'm sure, especially since 16-bit DOS wasn't a multi-tasking operating system and you could only really run one program at a time.

Contrary to popular belief, Wolfenstein 3D wasn't the first FPS, but it was pretty darn close, and it paved the way for many other classics like DOOM and DOOM 2. Its graphics were great for the time, and the concept was original.

If you feel like taking a walk down memory lane and want to give it a try again, I recommend running it on some sort of DOS-based windows, since it'll tend to be smoother sometimes than on NT-based systems.


For the longest time, I didn't know Wolfenstein 3D had been ported to the SNES and, from what I can gather, it wasn't exactly true to its PC counterpart. Aside from censoring some of the Nazi imagery evident in the original game, the end boss character was totally changed, probably with some kind of sense of decorum in mind.

The Gameboy Advance

As soon as I knew Wolfenstein 3D was among the handful of first person shooters that had been released for the GBA, I set out to get myself a copy.

The GBA version plays almost exactly like the PC version (with the exception of the actual controls and some game saving issues, of course) and it's probably one of the most loyal ports of a game I've seen on the GBA. It's almost literally just like playing it on the PC only with a smaller screen. The game works surprising well for this tiny system.

So if you want to play the original Wolfenstein 3D, especially if you've played any of the sequels like Return to Castle Wolfenstein, then pick up a copy of the original or of one of these ports. It's required gaming for any self-respecting FPS fan, really; this is the ancestor of them all.


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